Beset by failures in leadership and in treatment of the state’s
most vulnerable children, Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services is hammering out a reform plan after
a panel of court-appointed experts determined the agency needs a top-to-bottom overhaul if it hopes to improve the safety and well-being of the thousands of youths in its care.
DCFS has until the start of the new year to address the systemic deficiencies
identified in a scathing report filed in federal court, the latest development under a decades-old consent decree that allows the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to monitor the agency.
The report concluded that too many children who are wards of the state are
shuffled from placement to placement and forced to wait months for services. The result, the experts wrote, was an erosion of the children’s “already pronounced distrust in the system.” The beleaguered agency also suffers from an “absence of responsibility and accountability” when it comes to ensuring the children receive the help they need, according to the report.