Special Efforts Being Made in Illinois to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

December 07, 2017- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is ending a high-profile program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death after the agency's top official called the technology unreliable.[Recommendation 5.2 ]

Illinois is working with Eckerd Kids to implement Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback®, a real-time data analytics tool to flag high-risk child welfare cases for intensive monitoring and caseworker coaching. [Recommendation 2.1]

Before he resigned as DCFS Director, George Sheldon asked the state legislature for a change in state law that would give CPS investigators access to records of past unfounded allegations. The request followed the high-profile death of 17-month-old Sema’j Crosby; in that case, DCFS' contact with the family included two pending investigations for neglect and four prior unfounded investigations for neglect.

DCFS partners with the Multidisciplinary Pediatric Education and Evaluation Consortium, which provides expert medical evaluations for abuse allegations of serious harm to children in Chicago. There are other specialized medical programs located in Rockford, Peoria and Carbondale to assist child protection and law enforcement personnel in thorough forensic investigations of these incidents.  [Recommendation 7.3d]

In 2016, the Legislature enacted HB 4327, which provides that during any investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect that does not result in a placement of the child outside of the child's home, DCFS shall provide information to the parent or guardian about community service programs that provide respite care, voluntary guardianship, or other support services for families in crisis.  [Recommendation 7.1]

In 2016, the Legislature enacted HB 4425, which requires DCFS to determine the military status of each parent or guardian who is named as the alleged perpetrator in a child abuse or neglect report. If a child's parent or guardian is a service member, DCFS must notify a Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program that there is an open allegation of abuse or neglect against the parent or guardian. [Recommendation 6.1e]