The stories have been tragic. A series of reports in Chicago media have reported on a number of deaths of children, children who have had previous contact with Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
For more than two decades, the ACLU of Illinois has been working to reform the child welfare system in Illinois, through a consent decree – overseen by a federal court – that has led to substantial changes to DCFS. The tragic stories of this week make clear that much work remains to be done in this area.
In just the past few years, we have gone to court to combat irresponsible budget cuts for DCFS that were passed in Springfield. More recently, we returned to court to force DCFS to reduce the number of families and children being served by each caseworker. We know that an overloaded, overworked caseworker cannot serve each child in a complete and individual fashion.
The stories about DCFS are likely to fade in coming weeks, but our work goes on. The ACLU of Illinois will continue to reform our child welfare system and ensure that every vulnerable child in Illinois is protected from harm and abuse. No system can ever be perfect – but we can and we must do better.
We will continue to update you on developments in this area. It is work about which we are very proud, for it improves the lives of those most vulnerable, and gives them hope for a better future.