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DCFS hit with yet another blistering audit report

Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Man, when an Illinois Auditor General report summary begins this way, you know there’s big trouble afoot

Because of the significance and pervasiveness of the findings described within the report, we (the accountants) expressed an adverse opinion on the Department’s compliance with the specified requirements which comprise a State compliance examination. The Codification of Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (AT-C § 205.74) states a practitioner “should express an adverse opinion when the practitioner, having obtained sufficient appropriate evidence, concludes that misstatements, individually or in the aggregate, are both material and pervasive to the subject matter.”

The department, in this case, is DCFS.

* More

* The Department did not immediately communicate the investigation reports of child abuse and neglect for a newborn infant whose blood, urine, or meconium contains any amount of a controlled substance to the State’s attorneys’ offices for 17 (28%) of 60 reports tested. Specifically, we noted the State’s attorneys’ offices were notified between 218 to 920 days from report date.

* The Department notified the Directors of DPH and HFS of the report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child alleged to have been abused or neglected while receiving care in a hospital 34 days to 885 days from the investigation date for 15 of 15 (100%) reports tested. […]

* The Department did not timely notify the children’s school of its final findings from an indicated report of child abuse and neglect within 10 days of completing an investigation of alleged physical or sexual abuse for 40 of the 40 (100%) indicated reports tested. Specifically, we noted the schools were notified 129 to 890 days late.

* The Department did not timely notify the local enforcement personnel and the office of the State’s attorney of the involved county for 5 of 25 (20%) reports tested. Specifically, we noted the local enforcement personnel and the office of the State’s attorney were notified of a report alleging the death of a child, serious injury to a child, torture of a child, malnutrition of a child, and sexual abuse to a child 5 to 43 days after the required 24-hour timeframe. (Finding 5, pages 27-32) This finding has been reported since 2012.

* But wait, that’s not all

During our testing of 25 alleged incident of sexual abuse investigations, we noted that for 24 of 25 (96%) indicated investigations tested, the Department did not timely notify the relevant schools when an investigation of an alleged incident of sexual abuse was completed. Specifically, we noted the notifications were sent to relevant schools between 431 to 908 days from the investigation report date. […]

The Department could not provide documentation demonstrating it had conducted monitoring of its non-substitute care service provider agencies. The non-substitute care provider agencies provide services which include, but are not limited to, counseling, habilitation, advocacy centers, system-of-care grants, and other child specific services. Specifically, we noted the Department was unable to provide documentation it had conducted monitoring, as specified in the contracts, for 12 of 60 (20%) contracts tested. Total grants expended for the 12 contracts during fiscal years 2021 and 2022 totaled $15,593,544. Due to the Department being unable to provide documentation to demonstrate it had conducted monitoring, we cannot determine whether annual reviews required to be submitted by 9 of 12 grantees were performed by Department staff. (Finding 11, pages 47-48) This finding has been reported since 2012.


* CBS 2

In the most serious cases involving child death, injury, torture, malnutrition, and sex abuse, it is DCFS’ job to notify - within 24 hours - local authorities like the state’s attorneys of credible cases.

DCFS failed to do so 20 percent of the time - in some cases waiting five to 43 days.

“The fact that they’re waiting more than almost five days to almost month out before they’re coordinating is highly concerning,” [Cook County Chief Deputy Public Guardian Alpa Patel] said, “because a lot of info on the wellbeing and safety of those children is lost during that period of time.”

The report says this has been happening since 2012.

“A huge sense of in terms of lack of urgency in terms of what the department needs to be doing,” Patel said.

* The pervasive misstatements were about internal financial statements. The department’s response

The Department agrees with the recommendation and has implemented a corrective action plan. Due to unprecedented vacancies in the Division of Budget & Finance, review procedures in place were not able to be followed to catch the misstatements identified in the auditor’s review of our financial statements. The Department uses a consulting firm to assist with compiling their financial statements and has since been able to fill its CPA position. To further ensure the accuracy of future financial statements, the Department added senior management positions to its approved headcount to provide duplicity and support to be better able to manage the ebbs and flows of staffing levels and add expertise to ensure the accuracy of Departmental financial statements.

…Adding… Leader McCombie…

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie released the following statement after the Illinois Auditor General issued a scathing report on the Department of Children and Families Services:

“Under this DCFS Administration, children continue to be at risk and workers are still not safe. Protecting children in the state’s care should be the most important job we have. Unfortunately, children continue to suffer due to perpetual mismanagement by this agency. Billions of dollars have not fixed the problems; the agency needs to take into account the common-sense proposals pushed by House Republican lawmakers, to give this the attention it demands.”

Click here for the rest of it.


  1. - Last Christmas - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 10:32 am:

    Governors own.

  2. - This - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 10:35 am:

    No idea why the Governor doesn’t hold the DCFS director accountable and make a change in leadership. Damaging to state government morale, the families and victims and also not a good talking point for a national campaign farther down the road.

  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 10:53 am:

    ===and make a change in leadership===

    And replace him with… whom?

  4. - Bill H. - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:11 am:

    Replace him with someone who will come to work. Someone who will end the hiring fraud and follow State Statutes in hiring. Someone who will administer military admission examinations to Staff to get rid of the crazy idiots who belong in the Projects.

  5. - RNUG - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    Drastic problems require drastic action.

    This will probably violate a number of laws and make the problem worse short term, ,but something has to be done. Remove every DCFS employee from both the union and civil service protection. Make their employment either at will or 4 year term appointment. Dissolve the agency if you have to, and start over.

    If you aren’t going to do that, then fire everyone who is not an actual front line service delivery person. Replace all the middle and upper management. That’s the only way I can think of to send a message about how serious the Governor takes this issue. Yes, you will lose some good people … but at this point drastic action is needed.

    If you start a new agency, revision their goal. Identify what is wrong the current model, and figure out a different way.

    And apologies to relatives who are still employed there …

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    ===with someone===

    Kind of a broad identity. They’ve had a kabillion directors over the years. He should be held accountable, but change at the top isn’t gonna stop the bureaucrats who have resisted change in the middle. They’ll just outlast the next figurehead like they always have. Maybe the governor ought to move into DCFS HQ for a while.

  7. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:25 am:

    From the article, this finding has been reported since 2012. Former Governors Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner and current Governor JB Pritzker…what have you done during your time in office to remedy this tragic situation regarding DCFS.

    This is no excuse for this mismanagement and neglect.

  8. - don the legend - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:27 am:

    ==Maybe the governor ought to move into DCFS HQ for a while.==

    I was typing this exact line. JB is hung with this nightmare so he should go all in. If he can show a bright way forward he wins. If he fails he was blamed anyway but at least he can say he sold out to the effort.

  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:27 am:

    == And replace him with… whom? ==

    That’s the problem. Whoever the Director is, they are hamstrung by State employment rules, union contracts, and an entrenched bureaucracy.

  10. - Appears - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:36 am:

    There is an additional problem: who wants to go to work there?
    No one wants to work for that agency. It’s a tough job in a badly managed agency for a salary that isn’t up to date.

  11. - Stuck in Celliniland - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:38 am:

    =From the article, this finding has been reported since 2012. Former Governors Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner and current Governor JB Pritzker=

    There are three deficiencies from 1998 (Edgar) that hasn’t ever been corrected, plus one from 2008 (He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned).

  12. - Appears - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 11:38 am:

    It is very difficult to find the number of competent and caring professionals that the agency requires.

  13. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:02 pm:

    Does anyone see the irony in the city of Chicago assisting migrants who seek a better life in the US yet DCFS is unable to manage and effectively service families and children in crisis?

  14. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:09 pm:

    Pretty bad situation.
    Suspecting we will see the Gov ignore the news then deny responsibility, blame Trump and Rauner and start a study group to work on the problem.
    RNUG’s idea is interesting, but just not in the cards.
    Some of these things just require a notice. Not sure that can be that hard a requirement to complete.
    This Governor never “owns” - not that there is a simple solution here. Being Governor of Illinois has to be one of the toughest jobs in the country.
    Hiring new management may not have a huge impact, but it is the most obvious step, but as has pointed out just not sure that is going to move the needle here.
    How about starting by disciplining the employees that drop the ball?

  15. - Homebody - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:09 pm:

    == to provide duplicity ==

    While the definition of that word that they mean to use is technically a correct historical definition, I definitely would have chosen a different word.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:42 pm:

    Governors own.

    The list of agencies that only being bad to an administration is already well documented but when people, children, safety, life, when agencies continually fail at their mission, so much more… more… needs to be done other than leadership changes.

    Frankly, the worst look now would be to change leadership to appease. That simplicity to the politics isn’t making anything better, including the politics.

    Discussions to… pay/cost… education/training… systems/procedures… the bottom line is things aren’t working, they haven’t for way too long and over multiple administrations, it’s time that changes are made as thought this agency sees long term changing is not measured by timetables of elections or office terms.

    If it were easy…

    Well, it’s not going to be anything like easy, and it’s time to value what needs to be done by measuring the needs as long overdue

  17. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:51 pm:

    “… There are three deficiencies from 1998 (Edgar) … .”

    Hasn’t DCFS been operating under some form of federal court supervision since early Thompson?

    This 2019 WICS Channel 20 news story has a list of all DCFS directors from 1964 to 2019. Jess McDonald was director for almost 9 years, 1994 - 2003. How much of an impact did he make?

  18. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:51 pm:

    Did you ever consider that perhaps the collective bargaining rules you champion tirelessly, that make it virtually impossible to remove the bad actors in the bureaucracy, is the primary reason the agencies are so dysfunctional?

  19. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===the primary reason the agencies are so dysfunctional?===

    The problem is management. Mainly mid-level. People just don’t wanna expend the time and energy.

  20. - Appears - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:55 pm:

    Most management positions are not union.

  21. - Appears - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:57 pm:

    Maybe, maybe, it is time to contract out the whole agency. It hasn’t worked well in a long time. Maybe it is time to contract it out and start over.

  22. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 12:58 pm:

    I would really like to see some kind of comprehensive plan to address this that doesn’t involve blaming outside parties or individual staff members. People who are constantly mandated for overtime and constantly being assigned more work than they can ever hope to successfully address aren’t responsible for this.

    We’re more than 5 years in. These structural problems that weren’t JBs’ fault are starting to become Governor Pritzker’s failure to govern.

    Lets see a plan. Hopefully we get one before this is picked up by ProPublica or a newspaper of record because I would be shocked if Governor Pritzker has read this report and done nothing to address it and I would not be surprised if no one bothered telling him about it.

  23. - Al - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 1:50 pm:

    Dear Appears, Since 2010 Public Service Administrator positions have been unionized. There are a small number that are Civil Service, however those are the exception. The State has 37,000 plus employees. Only about 2,000 are non-Union Senior Public Service Administrator four year appointments and PSA Civil Service positions.

  24. - Appears - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 2:10 pm:

    The State did unionize (due to George Ryan) a number of management titles. It has since de-unionized a number of those management titles due to having a union “manager” having to supervise staff.

  25. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 2:10 pm:

    - make it virtually impossible to remove the bad actors in the bureaucracy -

    Spoken like a truly lazy middle manager or someone that’s never actually managed a union workforce. It’s not virtually impossible or even that difficult, you just have to follow a process.

  26. - Actual CPA with Experience in the Field - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 2:59 pm:

    In regards to the misstatements, this is DCFS’ compliance examination, not financial audit. Many years ago (~2008), findings from the financial audit were incorporated into the compliance reports because they always represented, at a minimum, noncompliance with the Fiscal Control and Internal Auditing Act (30 ILCS 10/3001) and specified requirement C from the compliance examination. The misstatements in the quote about AT-C § 205 are actually errors or omissions by DCFS leading to noncompliance with laws, rules, and regulations based on the specified criteria described in the report.

    All of the instances of material noncompliance by DCFS, which covers many topics outside of financial reporting in accordance with GAAP, is described in the third full paragraph of actual page 12 in the report.

  27. - Al - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 3:02 pm:

    Dear Appears, my recollection is Blagojevich and crew either didn’t understand the rules or ignored them. PSA 1s General Management, PSA 2s Financial Management, PSA 6s Medical Management and PSA 8s Licensed Management joined PSA 3s Information Management in 2010 due to widespread irregular behavior by Blago’s wrecking crew. The idea was the Union would provide some protection. Of course they didn’t. The PSA 3s previously organized due to layoff concerns after Y2K passed. Many saw the great raises they received and wanted in on it and protection. Organizing is a slow process and I if I recall correctly by the time these titles were recognized by the Labor Board, Quinn was Governor.

    The problem is deeper than just the Union. It has to do with Human Resources and Labor Relations. I had hoped that JB Pritzker changes to hiring might help but I not heard anything. One change he made was to have people’s applications going not just to Human Resources to vett who interviewed but to the Bureau Chief whose Bureau had the opening. I thought that was a step forward.

    Another important step would be to have the hiring Bureau Chief make the offer. When Human Resources wants to hire unqualified friends they will give the First Selected candidate the minimum salary for the position, below what they currently make. Or rather than offering them the position minimum, they will falsely say it is a lateral and the Governors office will not give you a pay increase to the new title for the minimum salary. When you ask for the offer in writing they hang up the phone. Then when you are at the Motor boat club Saturday and run into the Bureau Chief with the opening they are upset you didn’t take the position. You explain the offer was to take the SPSA position as a lateral with no salary adjustment so you would make less than the minimum for a SPSA they are angry. The Human Resource positions are run by unprofessional crazy idiots.

  28. - Jim Nowlan - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 4:23 pm:

    Anyone Remember. . .Jess McDonald was responsible for, among other practices, reducing #s of wards of the State from 50,000 to about 15,000. He instituted home of relative foster care, which provided support to relatives to care for children. I am no an expert in children’s services (and Jess is an old friend, so I have my biases), but I believe Jess McDonald was considered the gold standard nationally for leadership of a child care agency during his tenure, and after.

  29. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Sep 27, 23 @ 6:09 pm:

    Jim Nowlan -

    Thank you. Can we bring Jess back? Clone him?

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