Report urges major reforms in DCFS

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MCT

A member of child protection services carries an unharmed 6-month-old boy found at the scene of a triple homicide in a duplex in Rancho Cordova, California, on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. Sacramento County Sheriff's Department officials confirmed that three bodies were found, that of a woman, described as being in her 20s, and her two children — a girl, 3, and a boy, 2 — dead in one room. The 6-month-old boy was found crying but unharmed in another room. (Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

By Jason Chun

As reported by The Chicago Tribune, a panel of court-appointed experts concluded that the agency displays an “absence of responsibility and accountability” in regards to making sure that children receive the appropriate helpRB.

The report also criticizes the DCFS for the long waits that children have to endure in shelters, group homes, psychiatric hospitals and other restrictive environments after they had already been cleared to move to more lenient settings. Experts referenced statistics that claim that one-third of children waited six months or more to be moved and that the median wait time exceeded 100 daysRB.

“The experts accurately described how the wards of the state have been suffering for years because of the inadequate placements and services for so many of them,” Benjamin Wolf, ACLU legal director, said in the Tribune article. “This is going to be a long and challenging reform process, but we’re hopeful we’ll get there.”

Acting director of DCFS, George Sheldon, said that the report was not surprising and was, “consistent with what I had identified during the period that I’ve been here.”

The agency has already been making steps toward addressing the problems pointed out in the report. It is piloting a program that aims to decrease the amount of state wards that are waiting in juvenile detention centers past their release dates due to an inability to find placements for them.

The DCFS has until the beginning of the new year to address the problems revealed in the report.

“The Department was pleased that the judge entered the Agreed Order in October and look forward to collaborating with the expert panel and the plaintiffs in the coming months to improve the lives of the children in our care,” a representative for DCFS stated.

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