More than 200 children with prior involvement with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were slain from 2000 through 2011, reports the Chicago Tribune. In some instances, the agency had been warned about possible abuse and neglect, but the staff assigned to protect them ultimately failed, according to state officials and records obtained by the paper. Facts about the cases rarely were made public, largely because of confidentiality laws.
The DCFS Office of Inspector General investigates such deaths, but its annual report does not include names or hometowns. Trying to put faces on some of these children — and tell their stories — the Tribune compared the death summaries contained in the most recent report against police, court, prison and medical examiner records. Confidential DCFS and hospital documents also were obtained. The newspaper identified eight examples detailed in the inspector general’s 2012 report in which DCFS or its contractual workers made serious errors, broke rules or falsified case notes. DCFS officials have moved to try to reduce caseloads, close overdue investigations and unclog the state’s child abuse hotline — shortcomings reported by the Tribune in recent months.