* Background is here. From the Illinois Collaboration on Youth…
U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso today appointed a special master to oversee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ implementation of the BH v. Walker consent decree. The ACLU of Illinois requested the court take this action back in June, and now the Court has accepted the ACLU recommendation.
The parties were in court today to address the crisis of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, where patients, including children, have made allegations of sexual assault and abuse. This follows other well-documented problems plaguing DCFS, including children remaining in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity, facility closures due to inadequate funding, and a growing intake in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic.
“It’s been apparent to us for a long time that the Illinois child welfare system is in crisis. The child welfare system is charged with stepping in to keep children and youth safe and stable when there are allegations of abuse or neglect, and to work expeditiously to address the child’s trauma, and either stabilize the family so they can be reunified, or identify a permanent loving home for that child,” said Andrea Durbin, Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. “For the past 20 years, we have seen a systematic disinvestment in the child welfare system that has led to this crisis today. The State of Illinois has done little to turn this around, refusing to provide adequate resources to support the most basic levels of service. As a result, children and youth languish in care, and Illinois ranks worst in the nation for permanency rates.”
“The situation is not sustainable. Illinois has a legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect, and today the Court recognized that extreme measures are needed to ensure that children and youth receive the services they deserve,” Durbin added.
ICOY providers stand ready to assist in rebuilding the Illinois child welfare system so that children and youth are safe, healthy, and living with loving families that are able to care for them.
Meanwhile, the federal government will terminate Medicare funding for Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.
Also, Illinois has more than just a “legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect.” It has an absolute moral responsibility. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our state.