Dozens of troubled Illinois youths are stuck in hospital rooms, jail cells, and shelters as officials struggle to find them appropriate homes, says the Chicago Tribune. The situation reflects an acute shortage as the state’s child welfare system evolves. The system is the smallest it has been since the late 1980s, with roughly 17,000 children in state care, most in foster homes. Among those who remain is a core of children with serious mental, behavioral and emotional needs, with few facilities suited to house them. “The system has come to a standstill,” said Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris. His analysis finds that at least 120 youths were waiting for spots in residential facilities, group homes and supervised apartments last September and October. Their waits lasted weeks, sometimes months.
“The shortages of placements for kids with special needs are very serious, and new evaluation systems have not solved it. If anything they have highlighted how bad it is,” said Benjamin Wolf, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who oversees a 15-year-old federal consent decree with the state.