While some at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services say more funding is the solution for systemic problems in the agency, others say the real answer is handing out pink slips. At an Illinois Senate hearing Wednesday in response to reports of sexual abuse, assault, and prostitution involving DCFS facilities, a lack of resources was blamed on the agency not recognizing patterns of abuse at certain youth centers. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart doesn’t think that’s a good excuse.
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“More money is definitely not the answer. It has to be people being held accountable here,” Dart said. “I couldn’t get away with saying this, nor should I be able to get away with it.”
Dart says DCFS has dropped the ball in several areas, especially when it comes to searching for runaways who had been under the agency’s care. Between 2011 and 2013, there were nearly 30,000 reports of runaways from state-run residential treatment center.
Former and current state wards blame the runaway problem on children worried about being assaulted in DCFS care, either from other children or staff members.
“I don’t want this to appear to be an attack to staff members in these group homes and transitional living programs, but something needs to be done,” said Tashiana Jackson, president of the DCFS Youth Advisory Board.
More legislative hearings regarding DCFS are expected to be scheduled for the coming months.