* ProPublica report last month…
In the spring of 2016, a 12-year-old named Gabriel Brasfield spent 3 ½ months in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago. His hair, which he liked to wear cropped, grew long and unkempt. He forgot what it felt like to wear shoes because he was allowed to wear only hospital socks. He missed months of school, and couldn’t go outside. He celebrated his 13th birthday at the hospital, where he said the walls were bare and there was little to do.
And for eight weeks of those 3 ½ months, he didn’t even need to be there.
Doctors had agreed Brasfield was ready to be discharged about six weeks after he arrived, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which is his legal guardian, couldn’t find anywhere for him to go.
Brasfield is one of hundreds of children in the care of DCFS who are held each year inside psychiatric hospitals for weeks or months, even though they have been cleared to leave, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.
Instead of moving on to a foster home or residential treatment center — a less restrictive facility where children attend school and lead more normal lives — these children have languished in secure mental health facilities, the consequence of the child welfare agency’s failure to find them appropriate placements.
* So, DCFS has decided to place kids in other states to get them out of the psychiatric hospitals. There’s a problem, however…
Illinois is ramping up efforts to place children under its care in other states to prevent them from having to stay in mental institutions longer than necessary, but some providers in other states won’t take the kids because of Illinois’ poor record of payment.
Recent controversies over Illinois’ youth-in-care being locked up in mental health facilities longer than they need to be has led to a state push to place these kids in other states, officials said Monday. This, they said, is a better alternative to spending longer periods in an institution. […]
Placement of a child outside of the state may not always sound like an ideal alternative, but in Southeastern Illinois, placement just across the border in the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village is closer than a facility in Chicago. Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village, however, won’t take in children from Illinois.
“Our reluctance in pursuing a contract is really related to the delays in payment that appear to be systemic with the state of Illinois,” said Lynne Rump, director at the facility. “For us to incur delays in payment really places pressure on our cash flow.” […]
Further north, Jane Dobbins, executive director of Group Homes for Children, a group home for teenage girls in Lafayette, Indiana, said the organization was currently at capacity, but would likely decline a request by the state of Illinois due to its history of delaying payment to service providers for weeks, or even months.
*** UPDATE *** Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter…
We are sadden to hear that still to this day instead of working with providers in Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services is using the out of State option in placing our kids. Other states are seeing what Illinois providers have gone through and are making the decisions that many providers have made during the last 3 years. We as an organization that would allow these captive young adults a private right of action against the department last legislative session. However The union was against it and some of the Democrats along with Republicans did not feel like it did anything.
Another point is that the Department is spewing this narrative about the majority of these cases are new cases. This is simply not true. We have been FOIA’ing this data on a weekly bases and this is simply not the case. We will release an official end of fiscal year report soon The majority of the Beyond Medical Need youth in care are already under the Departments custody.
Until the Department truly addresses this issue in an honest fashion, Illinois will continue fail our most at risk young people.