The Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) – the state agency charged with protecting vulnerable Illinois children – has announced that he will soon be stepping down.
Following the recent release of another scathing audit covering repeated issues with the DCFS, the director of the embattled agency, Marc D. Smith, announced that he would be leaving his position at the end of the year.
DCFS is charged with caring for vulnerable Illinois children, including victims of abuse and children who are in the care of the state for various reasons.
The recent compliance audit of DCFS contained 33 findings of the agency not complying with state laws and rules, including multiple failures by the agency to properly notify authorities about evidence of abuse against children in a timely fashion. The audit also called “misstatements” that were “both material and pervasive.” The audit contained 23 findings of noncompliance from the agency’s previous audit.
Additionally in recent years, DCFS and Director Smith have been found to be in contempt of court in multiple cases for failing to properly place children into safe homes. Some cases involved children who were left in psychiatric facilities months after they were ready to be released. Another involved a teenage girl who was moved 24 times in just four months.
According to news reports, Director Smith first announced that he was leaving during a conference call with staff. The information was later confirmed by the Governor, along with departures of the directors of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department on Aging.
State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) says that the Governor needs to act swiftly to find a competent new director for DCFS but warns that the issues at the agency run much deeper than just one person. He says it is unacceptable that the Administration has allowed DCFS to continue to fail to protect the vulnerable children of our state for so long.