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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Illinois.

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Illinois was:

Round 1 (2003)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 2 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2010)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 2 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subsequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Illinois will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2018 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Aisha W. v. Aunt Martha's Youth Services Center
    Three-year-old Aisha and her six-year-old brother were placed in a non-relative foster home. Defendants were the social services agency and the assigned case worker. Plaintiffs brought negligence claims alleging that during the four and half month plaintiffs were placed in the foster home, defendants failed to visit them on a monthly basis, failed to speak to the children outside of the presence of their foster parents, and failed to provide the children with the services they required, in violation of DCFS and Aunt Martha's policies and procedures. As a result, defendants never discovered that plaintiffs were being horribly abused, neglected, starved, and, in the case of Aisha, sexually assaulted by her foster parents.
  • Apostol v. Aunt Martha's Youth Services Center
    The public guardian filed this negligence case against a social service agency that placed two children in the foster home of a convicted drug dealer. Less than five weeks after placement, two-year-old William was burned to death in a bathtub full of scalding hot water. His younger brother was also horribly abused. Both boys had been severely malnourished. In violation of state law and professional work practices, no one from the agency visited the children during the five weeks they lived in the foster home.
  • Aristotle P. v. Samuels, also known as Aristotle P. v. McDonald and Aristotle P. v. Johnson
    Plaintiffs brought this class action on behalf of children who (1) are or will be in the temporary custody or guardianship of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and (2) have not been, or will not be, placed with their siblings, or will not be given reasonable visitation with their siblings. Plaintiffs alleged that DCFS regularly placed siblings into separate foster homes and residential facilities, and refused to arrange or permit sibling visits, thereby depriving children of rights secured by the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
  • Artist M. v. Suter, also known as Artist M. v. Johnson
    Plaintiffs brought this class action on behalf of children who are or will be placed in the custody or under the supervision of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in the course of an abuse, neglect, or dependency proceeding in the Juvenile Court of Cook County, Illinois. This civil rights class action for declaratory and injunctive relief was brought under the Due Process Clause and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. Plaintiffs attacked DCFS’s policy and practice of failing to assign caseworkers in a timely manner. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants regularly failed to assign a caseworker until 4-6 weeks after the Juvenile Court proceeding commenced. As a result, many children were without a caseworker at critical times.
  • B.H. v. Samuels, also known as B.H. v. Samuels, B.H. v. Johnson, B.H. v. Suter, and B.H. v. Ryder
    This civil rights class action suit was brought on behalf of all children who are or will be in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The complaint charged DCFS with failure to provide services to the children in its care, and with violations of the Constitution and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
  • Dupuy v. Samuels, also known as Dupuy v. McDonald
    Plaintiffs challenged the practice of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of routinely limiting visits between foster children and their parents to one hour per month. Plaintiffs also challenged DCFS’s practice of having social workers supervise all visits, and its failure to provide parents with an opportunity for notice and a hearing to challenge visitation restrictions. Plaintiffs claimed that these practices prevented parents from maintaining close relationships with their children, hindered their efforts to reunite their families, and violated their rights under Title IV-E and the Constitution
  • Hill v. Erickson
    This is a class action suit on behalf of adolescent wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) who are pregnant or already parents. Plaintiffs alleged that DCFS failed to provide adequate placements and services to meet their needs and those of their children. Class members are moved from shelter to shelter and needlessly separated from their young children, in violation of federal statutory law, Illinois state law, and the state and federal constitutions.
  • Letisha v. Morgan
    After the James Bank Group Home closed pursuant to the state court class action in Letisha A. v. Morgan, eleven children filed this companion case in federal court. Defendants were the state officials responsible for placing the children in the home and for monitoring the children's treatment in the home, the private corporation that owned the home, and various personnel employed by the home. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, the children alleged violations of their substantive due process rights to an adequate and safe placement under the Fourteenth Amendment against the state defendants. Plaintiffs also alleged tort violations under state law against the private defendant.
  • Mabel A. v. Woodard
    This is a civil rights case against a DCFS case manager alleging that the case manager took no action in the face of knowledge that foster care children were being abused and neglected. One of the child plaintiffs suffered third degree burns on the soles of his feet.
  • Norman v. McDonald, also known as Norman v. Suter and Norman v. Johnson
    This class action was filed on behalf of impoverished parents and legal guardians who have lost, are at risk of losing, or cannot regain custody of their children from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) because they are homeless or unable to provide food or shelter for their children. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' policies violated provisions of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Willingham v. McDonald
    Plaintiffs challenged the practices of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) regarding its use of disability benefits collected on behalf of children with disabilities in foster care. Plaintiffs alleged that DCFS breached its fiduciary responsibility by failing to take proper steps to ensure that Supplemental Security Insurance payments were used for the children's benefit.
  • Youakim v. McDonald
    Plaintiffs (foster parents and children who would lose benefits because their homes were not state licensed) challenged the new licensing requirements of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which required relatives taking care of foster children to become licensed. Until the relatives became licensed foster parents, children in relative homes would lose foster care benefits. Plaintiffs alleged the requirements violated the original judgment in Miller v. Youakim, 440 U.S. 125 (1979), Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, and the Due Process Clause.

*litigation summaries taken from information provided by the website of the National Center for Youth Law

Child Welfare In the News**

  • Why child welfare is so bad (Opinion) (Chicago Tribune - January 15, 2015) The abuse of Department of Children and Family Services wards in residential care as documented by recent articles in the Chicago Tribune continues not because of the bad faith of DCFS directors or because of the incompetence of DCFS workers. It continues because DCFS, indeed the entire child-welfare bureaucracy, was set up a century ago on a premise that no longer exists.
  • Lawmakers tire of DCFS' lack of accountability (Watchdog Illinois - January 08, 2015) It was déjà vu for some state legislators Wednesday as they heard reports of ineptitude within the state's child welfare agency that left wards of the state open to neglect, abuse and crime.
  • Illinois Child Agency Director Says Abuse Claims 'Appalling' (Associated Press - January 07, 2015) Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobbie Gregg says abuse claims at state-run youth centers are "appalling" and "unacceptable," but have plagued child welfare in the state for decades.
  • Hinsdale representative: DCFS issues 'a tragedy' (Illinois News Network - January 02, 2015) Patti Bellock said an upcoming hearing to examine the problems at the Department of Children and Family Services could mark the start of a bipartisan effort to greatly improve child protection in Illinois.
  • Auditor General: Illinois does poor job tracking runaway or otherwise missing foster children (Associated Press - December 18, 2014) The agency did not differentiate between those who had run away and those whose whereabouts caregivers did not immediately know. Of 29,000 incidents, 61 were reported as abductions, while the audit found 40 of those had been wrongly classified.
  • DCFS starts inspecting residential centers in response to Tribune series (Chicago Tribune - December 09, 2014) Teams of state child welfare officials have begun making unannounced inspections at residential treatment facilities that serve juvenile wards as officials accelerate their response to a Tribune investigation revealing assaults, rapes and prostitution schemes.

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway


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Children's Advocacy Institute
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