State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) is calling out his colleagues in the supermajority for their inaction in bringing back legislative oversight to the failing Department of Children and Family Services. A recent auditor general report showed a record high number of children known to DCFS died in the past year.
“It enrages me that we continue to see not only a lack of progress at DCFS, but steps backwards,” Rep Weber said. “There is a heartbreaking, human cost when this agency is so poorly managed and the legislature doesn’t do anything. These are children who have done nothing wrong and rely on the state for protection.”
In a plea to colleagues Tuesday on the House floor, Rep. Weber said that this increase in the number of deaths tied to DCFS, while not all related to foul play, is inexcusable, especially given the increased funding directed to the agency over the last several years. “The agency is ineptly run and the state’s most vulnerable are suffering for it.”
According to the annual report by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General, released last Wednesday, 171 kids who were on DCFS’s radar died in 2021, a forty percent increase from 2020. This number represents the highest since the agency began keeping tracking in 2000.
“JB may not want to admit it because he chose Smith, but at this point I think it’s past time that DCFS sees a change in leadership. Director Smith has been given too many chances and the results speak for themselves,” Rep. Weber added.
Rep. Weber has been working with advocates, Democrats, and DCFS since AJ Freund, an abuse case mishandled by the agency in 2019. He has been frustrated by the lack of progress in the House and the stonewalling he has received from DCFS.
Rep. Weber finished his appeal to House Democrats on the floor by asking colleagues to work together for the sake of the kids in our care. “Let’s work together and commit to actually making progress and getting results toward a better future for them.”