* Back in May…
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally complained to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services about the agency’s practices about a year before the death of 5-year-old AJ Freund of Crystal Lake.
In a May 24, 2018, letter to Carole Ruzicks, the senior director of operations for DCFS’ northern region, Kenneally cited three cases in which DCFS workers were uncooperative or remiss in their handling of investigations. From cases where workers refused to show up to hearings because they “would be washing their hair” to a separate instance involving an infant’s heroin overdose, Kenneally’s frustrations with the agency seemed to have come to a head.
* In the Daily Line today…
Problems at the McHenry County office of the Department of Children and Family Services “have gotten worse over the last several months, not better” even after the death of 4-year-old AJ Freund, according to the McHenry County state’s attorney.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Line Thursday afternoon, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally wrote that the DCFS office in Woodstock, the town where Freund’s body was found buried in April after his parents allegedly beat him to death, has not improved in the wake of Freund’s death.
Kenneally is leading the proscecution of JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr., who have been charged with murder.
“The root of the problems…remain the same — a lack of accountability for inadequate performance,” Kenneally wrote in an Oct. 22 letter addressed to lawmakers. “To illustrate this point consider the fact that six months later, DCFS has yet to determine, one way or the other, whether any corrective or disciplinary action is warranted for its response to the December, 2018 complaint involving AJ Freund.” […]
“We have an agency that’s more hung up on process than its mission,” [Rep. Steve Reick. R-Woodstock] told The Daily Line on Thursday. “We have an agency that is more interested or more concerned about making sure that check marks are put into boxes on forms, which may lead to one conclusion or another, but as long as it leads to the conclusion that they did what they were supposed to according to own procedures and protocols, what happens to the kid really doesn’t matter.”
*** UPDATE *** Oh, man…
Illinois’ child welfare agency is investigating why two teenagers in its custody were handcuffed and shackled at their feet while being driven from one youth shelter to another living arrangement, authorities confirmed Thursday.
The youths, 15 and 17, were driven in separate trips on Oct. 1 by a private contractor, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Both were restrained for about 30 miles as they were moved from a shelter in Chicago to a new placement in Palatine.
“The use of restraints in this case was totally unacceptable and against department policy,” spokesman Jassen Strokosch said in a statement. “DCFS is investigating the incident and putting additional policies and procedures in place immediately to ensure youth are never restrained during transport unless it is clinically necessary.” […]
“This is not a penal system,” [Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert] said. “The foster care system is different from a penal system. It’s not intended to punish children. Handcuffs and shackles are for adult criminals from whom the public needs to be protected.” […]
State law prohibits minors from being “subjected to mechanical restraints” in any facility licensed by DCFS.