Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Cook County Public Guardian: “Maybe we’re at point that we should just abolish DCFS altogether”
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Cook County Public Guardian: “Maybe we’re at point that we should just abolish DCFS altogether”

Friday, Mar 24, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* CBS 2

A 16-year-old girl was already a sex trafficking victim – and we have learned the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services placed her with a three-time convicted felon who is accused of forcing her into prostitution. […]

“They licensed him as a foster parent,” said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert. “They licensed this 24-year-old pimp as a foster parent for a 16-year-old girl who had a history – they were paying tax money as a foster parent while he was trafficking a 16-year-old girl in DCFS care.” […]

His name is Erick Johnson, and he is also an accused sex trafficker. […]

A court order we obtained says while the teenage girl has waited to get the care and placement she needs, the teen has been trafficked, sexually assaulted, and shot, and has lived on the streets. And ultimately, the order said, “the agency made a pimp the child’s foster parent.” […]

Johnson has a lengthy criminal record. The teen was placed with him just months after he was released from federal prison after a 24-month sentence on a firearms charge.

Before that, Johnson spent three years in state prison for two robbery convictions. […]

Johnson’s latest charges detailed in the court record say the “juvenile victim was being advertised” and prostituted on “a known sex website.”

Savini asked Golbert what this says about the background-checking system at DCFS.

“It says that they’re not doing background checks. It says that it’s broken. It says that it’s dysfunctional,” Golbert said. “It says that maybe we’re at point that we should just abolish DCFS altogether.”

* From the above-referenced court order

A psychological dated October, 2020 diagnosed xxxx with posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and borderline intellectual functioning. Since that time, according to her attorney, the Cook County Public Guardian, she has been raped, shot and sexually trafficed. When she first came into the system, according to the Public Guardian, DCFS put her in a foster home from which she ran within hours. DCFS then placed the child in a shelter from which she again ran. While on the run, according to the DCFS reports, she was at a hotel and being trafficked to multiple men. She was later psychiatrically hospitalized and then DCFS placed her in yet another shelter. At that placement she jumped out of the 2nd floor window and DCFS then placed her in a hotel with one on one staff. She ran from the hotel as well. On or about May 26, 2020 she was placed in another foster home where she remained for 2 days before running. She was located on or about June 19, 2020 and placed in a non-secure facility for victims of sex trafficking. While there she threw chairs, punched holes in the walls and was ultimately psychiatrically hospitalized. The staff at that facility said they were unable to care for.

On or about November 17, 2020 DCFS placed the child at Indian Oaks, a residential facility where she remained until March, 2022. While at Indian Oaks she ran on multiple occasions.

In April 2022 DCFS a DCFS consulting psychologist wrote an 11 page report in which the first recommendation was for DCFS to provide her with a “Secure Residential Treatment Facility – Sex Trafficking Program.”

No such placement was obtained and there is no evidence that the agency ever attempted to find such a placement.

In July 2022 the child had a seizure while riding on a CTA train and was brought to St. Bernard’s hospital. It was recommended she receive psychiatric hospitalization at that time but she ran away before she could be so placed. In August, 2022 she had another seizure on an elevated train and was allegedly attacked by 3 men on the train. Chicago Police Department brought her to a psychiatric facility. She ultimately ran from that facility and on August 12, 2022 was shot. The bullet remains in her leg which is causing her continued distress.

In December, 2022, according to the public guardian, the child self-selected a placement with a 24-year-old man, named Erick Johnson. “Ultimately, Mr. Johnson passed placement clearance and was approved by DCFS to be her fictive kin foster parent.” Apparently, Mr. Johnson was a pimp with a lengthy criminal history. Presently he is incarcerated at the Cook County jail.

* From the governor’s office…

In this case, the 16-year-old was placed with a friend of the family with the support of both her birth and adoptive mothers and the guardian ad litem in an effort to provide her with stability due to her history of running away from previous placements.

Over the next several months DCFS regularly met with the friend of the family as well as the adoptive and birth mothers and the guardian ad litem on a placement plan. These are the individuals with parental rights and responsibilities related to the child and DCFS, therefore, works closely with them to determine an appropriate plan of action for the child.

The child has since been removed from this household and there are no other foster or adoptive children living in this household. The child is currently in the care of a DCFS private partner and DCFS is working expeditiously to find a permanent and medically appropriate placement for this child that will provide her with the care she requires.

*** UPDATE *** It turns out, the Cook County Public Guardian is the girl’s guardian ad litem. From Charles Golbert…

I saw DCFS’s disingenuous statement. We are the child’s Juvenile Court-appointed attorney and guardian ad litem. It’s true that the girl expressed an interest in living with Johnson. DCFS represented that Johnson had passed DCFS’s placement clearance, and that DCFS had approved Johnson as a paid fictive kin placement for her. Under DCFS’s regulations, DCFS must perform a criminal background check on an individual before he or she can pass DCFS’s placement clearance.

DCFS either never did this required background check on Johnson or, if DCFS did do this required background check, it did not do so competently or was not concerned about his lengthy record. We most certainly never told DCFS, or anyone else, that we supported DCFS placing her with Johnson if DCFS’s required background check came back to DCFS with a record as long as an arm including Johnson being a three-time felon. Moreover, as is clear from the judge’s order entered yesterday in the case, DCFS also never disclosed to the court that Johnson had this extensive criminal background despite DCFS passing him for placement clearance and approving him as a paid fictive kin placement.

       

9 Comments
  1. - Google Is Your Friend - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:35 pm:

    Why not give them more and more money like the police?


  2. - DuPage Dad - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:42 pm:

    If JB wants to make childhood development a key policy initiative, it will not be successful by definition if he does not significantly fix DCFS.


  3. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 7:07 pm:

    And replace it with WHAT?

    Until you have valid replacement, go away.


  4. - Victor Kingston - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 7:29 pm:

    “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member”. I would need to petition for clemency against a ban for all of the colorful words I would like to use to describe our current level of greatness.


  5. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 7:52 pm:

    Can’t wait to see who the Governor’s office blames for this one as the Prtizker Administration continues fail children. I’m not sure how many contempt of court charges it takes to get the attention of the Governor himself or something that resembles action.

    It took several rounds of embarrassing press coverage with a little bit of potential for national attention before the Pritzker Administration decided to do anything to address the situation with Choate.

    At this point, I guess the NYTimes or Washington Post needs to produce a nice editorial about how Pritzker’s national ambitions may be destroyed by his inability to actually handle the details of governing.


  6. - Been There - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 8:43 pm:

    From the story
    —-Golbert says he is now exploring the possibility of filing a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the child against DCFS—-

    I hope he does. But I also hope the girl is able to get counseling first as she will be an adult soon. There are many, many more vultures out there once she is an adult. Whether they be attorneys, long lost relatives, friends, etc. She has been hurt by many but the state’s role is absolutely terrible. You would almost have to think that there is somebody in the department that is connected to the pimp to have something this egregious to happen.


  7. - H-W - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 9:08 pm:

    Rich et al., I can’t read this thread (basketball). But this issue seems critical today: “How will the State deal with its legal wards?”.

    If Republicans and Democrats and others cannot answer this question in the most humane ways, Heaven help us. As Rich says so often, “We must do better.”


  8. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 9:27 pm:

    Replace with what? I really don’t know but the governors should find out. I used plural for Governor because DCFS should have been blown up years ago. Let’s just wait because sooner enough kids age out and are no longer a DCFS problem


  9. - Big Tent - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 9:48 pm:

    More lip service from “the Governor’s office.” How is a 16 yo given the option to “self-select” her placement. And who chose not to bother with a criminal background check of her selected placement? JB’s “historic” first term will be remembered as a dumpster fire, unless and until he chooses to deal with this train wreck. Fire Smith, admit your mistakes, and start over.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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