Lawmakers blast DCFS after audit finds problems with agency

Illinois House Republicans criticized DCFS after following a recent Auditor General's report showing problems within the agency.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was not following the law according to an Auditor General’s report released Tuesday.

The report details three main issues plaguing the agency for two years through June 30, 2022:

  • The agency failed to comply with several sections of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
  • It failed to comply with the School Code.
  • The department did not adequately document the monitoring of its provider agencies for compliance with contract terms.

Illinois House Republicans held a press conference Friday criticizing the agency, adding it’s time for change.

“Why not change the process. It’s not that difficult to change the process and you certainly don’t need legislation to do it. So what’s happening now isn’t working and I hope to god it can’t get worse, so let’s try something different,” said Illinois House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna).

In response to lawmakers’ criticisms, DCFS issued a statement Friday that said:

“The audit covers the years during the height of the pandemic – a historic, unprecedented time when many uncertainties around the world existed and staffing at DCFS and other businesses worldwide were at an all time low. Nonetheless, the agency continued to provide services to children and families across the state and has invested in new technology infrastructure to further help alleviate administrative burdens.

DCFS always notify law enforcement and/or the State’s Attorney when required to do so.

At times DCFS must commence the investigation to determine that notification is required prior to contacting law enforcement or the State’s Attorney. (It is the work of the investigation that informs whether we need to contact law enforcement and/or the State’s Attorney).

Additionally as noted throughout the report, in some cases statute indicates that DCFS file reports with other entities, such as law enforcement, within a “reasonable timeframe.” Recognizing that this is vague, DCFS has given itself a self-imposed corrective action item to define the parameters of this timeframe which will be automated pending the launch of IllinoisConnect later this year.

In terms of budget, a large percentage of our budget has been allocated towards technology infrastructure improvements which has not been upgraded in more than three decades. This investment will absolutely help drive system wide improvements.

Staffing needs will continue to grow as the needs of our services grow. Our staffing is the highest in 15 years and we are incredibly proud of our recruitment efforts; the focus has been to hire caseworkers and case managers – the frontline workers who are responding to the needs of thousands of Illinois, children and families annually.”

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