And then 44-pound Verna became part of a growing pattern of similar fatalities: She was one of 15 Illinois children to die of abuse or neglect from 2012 through last year in homes receiving “intact family services” from organizations hired by DCFS, a Tribune investigation found.
There was only one such child death under the intact family services program during the previous five years from 2007 through 2011, according to DCFS records released to the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.
The mission of intact family services, which roughly 2,700 children are receiving statewide, is to offer counseling, resources and oversight to keep families together, instead of putting children through another trauma by removing them from the home and placing them with strangers.
The spike in deaths began in 2012 after DCFS completely privatized the program, putting the care of families in the hands of nonprofit groups but doing little to evaluate the quality of their work, give them guidance and resources, or hold them accountable when children were hurt or put at risk, the Tribune found. […]
Illinois’ new child welfare director, Beverly “B.J.” Walker, said she was alarmed by the Tribune’s finding on the surge of child fatalities in intact family services cases as well as by a sharply critical report from the DCFS Inspector General on Verna’s death.
*** UPDATE *** Ugh…
Like a scene out of the fairy tales she loved, the little girl everyone called Princess was heard crying for help from her second-story window.
But unlike Rapunzel, no prince showed up to rescue 4-year-old Emily Rose Perrin, whose mother hallucinated about dark angels that told her to kill the child.
The state child protective agency with the power to take children from their parents didn’t save Emily either, despite receiving 10 reports of suspected abuse.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services now is calling Emily’s death a failure of the system and is making changes to stop it from happening again. […]
As a result of cases like Emily’s, Walker said DCFS has:
▪ Changed the numbering and case record search capabilities so investigators can get a better history of each family, including reports of abuse or neglect that at the time were found not to be credible.
▪ Created a report for supervisors on the 2,700 cases being monitored by DCFS that have new allegations of abuse or neglect.
▪ Come up with a plan to review cases with new reports at a higher management level in the agency to ensure the quality of the work.
▪ Come up with a plan to facilitate regular contact between the family’s caseworkers and investigators regarding additional needs.
▪ Come up with a plan to try to make sure investigators and caseworkers will visit the home together to make sure each understands the family situation and the scope of the new allegation.
The agency also will seek the help of police, school officials and mental health professionals, according to Skene, the assistant to the DCFS director.
Years and years of promises and we still get “failure of the system” excuses. Go read the whole thing.