State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) is calling for Marc Smith, the Director of the struggling Department of Children and Family Services, to step down. The call comes after a damning report from the state Auditor General was released last Thursday and yet another contempt of court charge was handed down to Director Smith on Friday.
“The recent audit is full of glaring failures at DCFS under Smith’s leadership in 2020,” Rep. Weber said. “Most alarmingly, the audit says that DCFS failed to follow through and check on the welfare of kids when returning them to homes with known issues and then in most cases failed to follow up in providing services. There were 102 deaths of children known to DCFS that year. How many were lost in part because of the issues outlined by this audit? What will an audit reveal about 2021 when even more children, 122, died?”
Rep. Weber joined State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst), and State Representative Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) in a press conference Tuesday calling for Pritzker to accept responsibility for what is happening at DCFS and to take action in removing Marc Smith if he does not step down.
“For a court to issue a contempt order against an agency head, the situation has to be dire,” Rep. Weber said. DCFS Director Smith has been held in contempt of court 10 times since January for failure to properly place specific children in DCFS’s care. In some cases, the child had been left languishing in a mental health hospital for months after medically necessary. Seven of the ten children remain improperly placed. “That’s a result of continued failed leadership.”
Since the department’s inception 58 years ago in 1964, there have been 29 different department directors. “We were reluctant to call for a resignation prior to today because we understand that stability at the top is important and institutional change is difficult. We were willing to give Smith and Pritzker the benefit of the doubt that improvements were happening. However, this audit and the continued contempt orders show a clear lack of progress.”
“Pritzker and Smith have been in charge for three years and have had three straight years of significant budget increases with nothing to show for it,” Rep. Weber finished by saying. “We can’t afford to give Smith any more chances, this is about protecting the lives of innocent children.”
Watch the entire press conference here: