As part of an ongoing legal battle to reform the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), a federal judge ordered an evaluation of agency facilities, the Chicago Tribune reports. Independent monitors will be sent into the most troubled facilities in order to protect the youth that are housed there.

The Chicago Tribune's investigative series, "Harsh Treatment" exposed how many of the children under DCFS' care endure assault and abuse in facilities that lack adequate staff and services. The ACLU of Illinois has monitored DCFS under a consent decree aimed at reforming the agency, despite a revolving door of leadership within the Department. This week's ruling comes as a result of the ACLU going back to court in an effort to jump-start reforms. The Chicago Tribune spoke with ACLU of Illinois associate legal director Ben Wolf:

"As (we) know from the Tribune, some of (the centers) have been permitted to deteriorate quite a bit in recent years," said Ben Wolf, the ACLU chapter's associate legal director. "The first steps are to start to look at the most troubled residential treatment centers and to figure out if we need to close them, if we can provide technical assistance to fix them and, if we can't, where the kids will go."

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