State Representative Tom Weber (R-Fox Lake) issued the following statement calling for an investigation into DCFS policies, laws, and leadership:
“The stories of incompetence from DCFS are sadly ever present; the improper removal of well-cared for children like baby girl Bougher, the deaths of AJ Freund and Damari Perry, and the hospitalization of 356 children in the state’s care for months longer than necessary in 2021. Not to mention the tragic murder of DCFS employees Pam Knight & Deidre Silas. Over the last several years, DCFS has been marred by tragedies and lapses. In the last decade, 1,122 children who were under the protection of DCFS in some capacity have died.
You cannot look at the information and conclude that we need anything other than a top to bottom assessment of a failed system. Today, I’m calling for comprehensive hearings from the Adoption & Child Welfare Committee to investigate the DCFS policies, practices, and laws which have created a Department that habitually neglects those children in Illinois who are most vulnerable. We also need to ask why legislative action to protect the state’s children and DCFS field employees, such as the AJ Freund Act and HB1482 (101st General Assembly) has been stonewalled.
The actions, or lack thereof, of DCFS over the past years have raised a lot of questions about DCFS policies and call into question the leadership of the current Director. Over the last 58 years, since the Department’s inception, there have been 29 department directors. It is extremely difficult to achieve institutional change when there’s been a revolving door of leadership. In addition to working to assess how and why the department in charge of protecting our state’s children is failing them so miserably, we need to determine what’s causing this constant leadership spin cycle.
Until we have those answers, join me in praying for those children who suffered harm under these failed policies and for those currently in the system.”