More children are dying in Illinois because of neglect, and a state senator is pinning the blame on the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. 111 children died as a result of abuse or neglect between July 2012 and June 2013, up from 69 in 2010. State Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) says that should cost Illinois DCFS officials their jobs. “Every single one of you need to resign,” Hunter said Tuesday during a hearing of the Illinois Senate Human Services Subcommittee on Issues Relating to DCFS. “We are not getting the outcomes we need to protect our children.”
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The rise could be due to other factors. Acting director of Illinois DCFS Denise Gonzales pointed that sleep suffocations from infants sleeping on their stomachs, in a bed, or with their parents, began being counted as negligent deaths in 2010. “It appears that sleep suffocations are the primary reason that indicated neglect deaths increased to 74 in fiscal year 2013,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales also said DCFS has recognized that problem, and has increased education efforts on infant sleep safety for parents. After the hearing, Hunter dismissed that argument, saying of Gonzales and her staff “I don’t trust anything they’re saying right now.” Hunter said she plans on going to the governor’s office to ask for help in getting DCFS officials to leave their posts.