The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services believes it has a strategy to reverse the increase in children dying due to abuse and neglect. The acting director of DCFS, Denise Gonzales, says part of the solution is for more people to be trained to recognize signs of abuse, like teachers are required to do. “We envision requiring such training for all mandated reporters, who make up the majority of the 250,000 calls to our hotline every year,” Gonzales said.
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Gonzales also promised to work to reduce investigators’ case loads. State Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), a member of the Illinois Senate’s DCFS subcommittee, isn’t sure everyone at the department is on the same page. “I was scanning the audience and saw that many of your employees here were shaking their heads saying ‘no’ like they totally disagree with what you’re saying,” Hunter said. Hunter had previously called on Gonzales and other DCFS officials to resign after abuse and neglect deaths increased from 69 in 2010 to 111 last year.