* The Auditor General’s report is here. It covered two fiscal years, ending June 30, 2018. Center Square…
An audit of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services found significant deficiencies and noncompliance that a family justice advocate said shows the state agency is failing.
While the number of instances where the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services didn’t follow up on cases in a timely manner was small, Family Justice Resource Center Executive Director Michelle Weidner said each case involved the life of a child. […]
Nearly half the cases reviewed were not completed in a timely manner, the audit found. Nearly two-thirds of the cases didn’t have initial service plans in a timely manner as required, and 80 percent didn’t have integrated assessments completed.
The audit said failure to follow procedures, regulations and state law could result in inadequate care, unauthorized services or misuse of state funds. Findings of incomplete child welfare files were first reported in state audits more than 20 years ago. […]
While the percentage of cases of neglect and abuse that the agency failed to investigate within 24 hours was also a fraction of a percent (116 of 81,229, or 0.14 percent), the audit said failure to respond to such reports could result in further endangerment.
Weidner said people should not let small numbers downplay the significance.
“That fraction of a percent is represented by the cases that people don’t want to talk about,” Weidner said. “The cases like AJ Freund and Ja’hir Gibbons (both cases of DCFS-involved children who died this year) and the cases in which people are facing medically-based wrongful allegations and these cases matter. It matters to the people who are part of that small percentage.”
The detailed audit report by Sikich published by the Auditor General also found in fiscal 2017 three of 250 child death reviews were not conducted within the 90-day time frame as required by law.
“Failure to comply with the Act diminishes the effectiveness of the purposes for which the child death review teams serve and also is noncompliance with duties mandated by the Act,” the audit said.
* CBS 2…
The report found there was no documentation of a state central register created for 45 percent of the 60 examined hotline calls.
In other words, if someone calls the hotline about a child, it is supposed to be logged into a central registry – so that if someone calls about the child again, DCFS workers are aware and respond accordingly.
[Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert] said the lack of a prior report could impact the attention a child’s case receives.
The auditor general also found the DCFS has only half of the required number of bilingual caseworkers, which could also impact services.
* Daily Herald…
Several other internal control violations were reported, including some related to untimeliness in the department in its requests for federal reimbursements, filing of accident reports, employee performance evaluations, and approval of contracts. Three findings were duplicated in a separate financial audit, also released Thursday.
In a management assertion letter in the report, child welfare leaders said they acted appropriately in the use of state funds, followed accounting and record-keeping procedures, and complied with applicable laws and regulations “other than what has been previously disclosed.”
* Ana Espinosa on a four-part law to help improve the troubled agency…
The first part of the law makes sure children in DCFS care are up to date on their immunizations and doctor visits.
Three months before [2-year-old Ta’Naja Barnes’] death, someone called the DCFS hotline to report medical neglect because of lack of immunizations.
The second part requires DCFS to complete a home safety check before a child is returned home. […]
It’s noted in a police report - the home where Ta’naja lived - had no running water and signs of a rodent infestation.
The third part is about aftercare or the services provided to the family for six months after a child is returned home.
This law makes it so the six months starts after the last child is returned.
That’s not what happened in Ta’Naja’s case.
The fourth part ensures state audits are done.