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*** UPDATED x1 *** DCFS blasted for “unconscionable” witholding of child abuse data

Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018

* Also note the info about opioid abuse…

Today, Assistant Majority Leader Sara Feigenholtz joined child advocates to address alarming child abuse trends and to demand accountability from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS.)

“I filed HR986 last week because the Department has been hiding child abuse data since July, 2017,” said Feigenholtz. “DCFS took a step in the right direction this morning by reversing itself and releasing data, but it took 9 months of advocacy from former Youth in Care to get that done. DCFS should be ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the children of Illinois—not withholding vital information that advocates have used for decades to identify child abuse trends and protect children and families.”

For nine months, DCFS ignored advocates’ requests for a complete set of child abuse data, questioning their legal obligation to report the data, and suggesting that the computer systems they have used to compile the reports for over three decades are suddenly incapable or producing the reports. This morning’s data release shows that is not the case.

“The data released shows an increase in the number of children being re-abused—that number has skyrocketed by 50% since 2015,” said James McIntyre, President, Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter. “We also see a spike in opioid related calls. Services for people addicted to opioids have been cut over the last three years, and we worry that is the reason for the spike of caseloads related to opioid use.”

The alarming information contained in the released data makes it clear that more transparency is necessary to prevent child abuse in Illinois.

“This is a matter of being able to advocate for abused and vulnerable children,” said Kyle Hillman, a spokesperson for the National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter. “Without this data, social workers in the field haven’t had the supports they need. It was a total failure for this department to hide the data, and it was unconscionable for them to withhold it for as long as they did.”

“The Department continues to drag its feet on requests to release information related to the safety and well-being of our children, and that’s wrong,” concluded Feigenholtz. “DCFS is failing children and families across Illinois. They should step up and do the right thing all the time—not just when they are called out publicly for hiding information.”

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

JB Pritzker released the following statement in response to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services releasing monthly child abuse data:

“It is shameful that during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Bruce Rauner had to be talked into releasing critical child abuse information while his Department of Children and Family Services continues to fail vulnerable children,” said JB Pritzker. “Understanding child abuse trends is vital to preventing child abuse in the future. I am relieved we will again have access to data, but real damage was done because this failed governor was hiding important information from the public. We should be able to count on DCFS to fight for vulnerable children, not fight against transparency.”

*** UPDATE *** From DCFS…

Director Walker is committed to the families and children of Illinois who need the critical services offered by DCFS. During her 9 months at the Department, she has made significant structural changes aimed at protecting our clients, improving operations, and building a stable foundation at this agency. As Director Walker mentioned in the hearing, data reporting at DCFS is severely hampered by outdated technology. The old report required transporting data in pieces from one system to another, then manually entering data and putting pieces together. The new reports have information drawn directly from SACWIS (Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System). They are titled: Child Protective Services Report and Hotline Call and Intake Volume Report The new data reports can be found here, https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/newsandreports/reports/Pages/default.aspx

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 1:36 pm:

    This is shocking. How does Rauner sleep at night?


  2. - Huh? - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    Mom - 1.4% doesn’t care about anybody who isn’t in his social circle. That is how he sleeps at night.


  3. - Perrid - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    The official line from DCFS is that the old system broke down somehow, and so they weren’t able to produce the same reports in the same way. They took time to figure out what data was still important, and how they could best get it. That might be total BS but nobody throwing accusations around actually knows that. It’s one thing to rake them over the coals for this failure, another to throw words around like “hide.” And whoever wrote “This morning’s data release shows that is not the case” is grossly misinterpreting what they released. Unless you know that DCFS had made all the decisions, gathered all the specifications and definitions and capabilities, and all the avenues of getting and disclosing the data, that they had compiled all the information, months ago then no, this doesn’t prove that they lied. You can argue incompetence, you can argue it was a failure to prioritize, but you have no basis to accuse anyone of sitting on a report. The facts simply don’t support that accusation. Please don’t be so blatantly dishonest that I feel I have to defend bureaucrats in the interest of integrity, it gives me indigestion.


  4. - very old soil - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    This is the most important issue. “The data released shows an increase in the number of children being re-abused—that number has skyrocketed by 50% since 2015,” said James McIntyre, President, Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter.


  5. - WorkerBe - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    The system that was being used to report this information is very old and did in fact break down. They system is still not fully functional because there hasn’t been anyone to fix it. Even to company that owns the system hasn’t been able to fix it. The report had to be rewritten from a different platform the information could be distributed. There was not hiding of data as was claimed. In fact the data is more accurate now as the old system was known for having lots a data issues. Its sad that instead of using this as an example as to why old systems need to be replaced its being used to make face accusations and sling mud to make people look bad.


  6. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    You cannot fail to release the data for nine months, publicly state you are looking for ways to avoid releasing the data, then magically dump the data out the day of a press conference and not look…guilty as heck.

    Especially when it takes advocates only five minutes of glancing at the data to realize there are big problems at DCFS under BJ Walker.

    Let’s be honest: the only reason this data has been released is because former foster kids, social workers, and passionate lawmakers like Feigenholtz and Harris have been demanding it.

    BTW: I am not sure the system HAS been fixed. This does not include YTD comparison data for prior year. It is quite possible this report was thrown together by hand. Did DCFS actually say the reporting system is fixed now?


  7. - Who else - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:53 pm:

    ==Its sad that instead of using this as an example as to why old systems need to be replaced its being used to make face accusations and sling mud to make people look bad.==

    I don’t think it takes much mud slinging to make refusing to release data about children being abused look bad. The data was there. It sounds like it was cumbersome to put together, and that it was cumbersome for 35 years. But it was there, and they refused to release it.

    It can’t just be about the outdated system because it’s not. The director publicly articulated that she didn’t think she needed to release it, and questioned the value of it. That’s not the behavior of a person who’s doing all they can to respond to youth in care who are just asking for the department to literally do the exact some rote task they’ve done each month for over 3 decades.

    Updating computer systems so they can talk to each other is not bad- if it were done correctly, it could be beneficial. Keeping data private that has always been public, and refusing to respond to official FOIA requests, on the other hand, is bad.


  8. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    Huh, where did you come from workerbe? Awefully convenient
    I do blame DCFS management
    I do believe they sat on it.
    I do not believe workerbe
    DHS management sits on reports
    I noticed the edge report on tax credits redeemed is two years out of compliance. You can’t tell IDOR isn’t sitting on that
    Perrid I imagine you don’t work for state government.
    I would think if you did you could easily imagine
    Sitting on reports
    Hiding reports
    Redacting reports
    Fighting FOia
    Come on people
    State governmentp


  9. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 3:03 pm:

    === How does Rauner sleep at night? ===

    He sticks a pile of money into his pillowcase and plays Trump’s Apprentice Theme song.


  10. - Rutro - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 3:07 pm:

    ood time for overnor to be out of the country


  11. - Al - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 3:26 pm:

    Sleeping? Why I am sleeping fine thank you. I wash down an Ambien with a glass of the most amazing wine you have ever tasted, then my butler turns down my silk sheets.


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 4:04 pm:

    Why did the Rauner Administration stonewall so long, making up stories about the dog eating the computer?

    –“The data released shows an increase in the number of children being re-abused—that number has skyrocketed by 50% since 2015,” said James McIntyre, President, Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter. “We also see a spike in opioid related calls. Services for people addicted to opioids have been cut over the last three years, and we worry that is the reason for the spike of caseloads related to opioid use.”–

    Anyone who Rauner’s canned over the last year or so want to talk to some reporters about who ordered this h-a coverup? Who are the Big Brains who thought they could get away with it, like no one would notice this information just suddenly stopped?


  13. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Apr 17, 18 @ 4:14 pm:

    WorkerBe. What company “owns the system “? DCFS generated reports from systems and data it owns.


  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 18, 18 @ 7:18 am:

    I don’t think this delay was a DCFS delay, it was a Rauner influenced delay.

    As much as I didn’t like the previous DCFS Inspector General, when she authored a report unfavorable to Bruce Rauner, she got canned.

    Fix the problem, don’t add another law…


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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