IL DCFS falling further Behind in Child Abuse Cases

~~~~ I don’t know about any of you, BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHERE THE $4,000,000 WENT…. ~~~~ Robert StrongBow

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is late in probing more than 300 child abuse, neglect claims, according to audit.

A new report released Thursday detailed additional problems at the state’s troubled Department of Children and Family Services that could “result in further endangerment” of the children the agency is charged with protecting.

The report from Illinois Auditor General William Holland found that the agency failed to investigate in a timely manner more than 300 allegations of child abuse and neglect in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. While the number of reports represented less than 1 percent of total cases, the finding was compounded by the department’s untimely determinations of abuse and neglect in 6 percent of those cases.

“Failure to make timely determinations of reports of abuse and neglect could delay the implementation of a service plan and result in further endangerment of the child, and is a violation of the (Abused and Neglected Child Reporting) Act, according to the report.

The finding was not new for the embattled state agency, which has had seven directors in three years and seen its budget slashed. The auditor general’s office first reported the delays in determining abuse and neglect cases in 1998.

DCFS agreed with all of the new audit’s findings, adding in its official response that it will “continue to make efforts to improve” and in some cases has already started making changes, according to the report.

Regarding the delays in initiating abuse and neglect investigations, the agency said that it will “make diligent efforts” to reach 100 percent compliance, and as such is rewriting some DCFS procedures.

The report also found that DCFS workers did not always complete reviews of child deaths within the 90 days required by law. Instead, in the cases reviewed by the auditor general, the average time frame was more than double that in 2013 and nearly that long in 2014.

In a number of the cases highlighted by the auditors, DCFS also failed to maintain complete child welfare case files, including basic records like medical and dental consent forms and the child’s photo or fingerprints. In 88 percent of those cases, child identification forms were missing. The report also noted the agency used outdated forms.

The problems continued when it came to the department’s financial oversight, with the report concluding that the agency “lacked adequate review procedures.” After the auditors discovered “errors” in some of the department’s financial statements, DCFS had to adjust its records by $4 million.

For its part, DCFS said it planned to “implement control procedures,” seek bids from “reputable accounting firms” and fill a vacant fiscal administration position with a full-time employee.

“DCFS is working diligently under the direction of acting Director George Sheldon with the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner to offer real, concrete reforms that correct the mistakes of past administrations so that audits like this become a thing of the past as our state moves forward,” DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach said.

NY Child abuse cases going unsolved

BUFFALO, N.Y. – More and more cases of child abuse in Western New York are going unsolved, and experts say it’s because people aren’t speaking up.

Judith Olin from Child & Adolescent Treatment Services deals with the severe cases of child abuse each and every day. “We all want justice when we see a child being hurt,” she said.

Her office works with law enforcement to provide a safe place for children to be interviewed and recover from abuse. Much of the problem in solving these cases. Olin says is that children can’t speak for themselves, making it take longer for police to bring the person or persons responsible to justice.

Statistics show that 47 percent of child abuse victims are under the age of 6. One in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

Last week 7 Eyewitness News told you that a 6-week-old baby from Cheektowaga was in Women and Children’s Hospital, recovering from serious injuries. Cheektowaga Police say they’re working on leads, and compiling a timeline of who had contact with the infant.

Almost one year after her death was ruled a homicide in Jamestown, 16-month-old Nayla Hodnett’s aunt is still looking for who killed her baby girl.

“A lot of times you hear babies crying, you just walk away or turn your head because you’re worried about that person and the adult. Well what about the baby?” Camille Hodnett said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, experts urge you to call this phone number to report it: 1-800-342-3720.