CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) called for hearings and an investigation after the director of the state’s Department of Child and Family Services, Marc Smith, was convicted of contempt of court for violating children’s rights.
CBS 2 investigator Dave Savini reported on Friday that in a startling move, a Cook County juvenile court judge issued two contempt of court orders against Smith for violating the rights of two children left to languish in establishments for months. DCFS could soon be fined up to $ 2,000 a day until these children are properly cared for.
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Durkin issued a letter on Monday to State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Oak Park), chair of the Social Services Credit Committee. Durkin noted in the letter that the DCFS receives over $ 1 billion in state support per year and is “charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable residents, a mission that Republicans and Democrats can. agreeing is essential for the state.
“This is why it is so heartbreaking that DCFS Director Marc Smith is being charged with contempt of court for not doing his job,” Durkin wrote.
A court order against Smith describes how a 9-year-old girl suffered years of physical and sexual abuse in the home. Then, after being taken into care by the DCFS, she was placed in a psychiatric hospital. She was medically ready for release in June 2021, but is still hospitalized.
A judge wrote that the DCFS disobeyed numerous court orders to remove the child from hospital in October and November. This is why the director of the DCFS Smith is accused of contempt.
The girl has been interned in the mental hospital for 221 days since the date she was due to be released.
The other contempt order came after a 13-year-old boy in DCFS care was forced to sleep in a storage room.
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“He was sleeping on the floor of a laundry room in an office,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said. “Closet of an office.”
This child was then sent to a lower-state shelter and stranded there for 145 days – the reason for Smith’s other contempt charge.
DCFS had received repeated complaints about her dating back several years. At least five men had sexually assaulted her since the age of seven and she suffered further abuse. DCFS failed to place her in preventive detention until her last rape case at the Grand Motel in October 2020.
“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. Under the Pritzker administration, more than 350 children were left behind in psychiatric care despite being allowed to move into a family setting, ”Durkin wrote in Monday’s letter. “The Cook County Justice’s unprecedented move to despise Director Smith must be a wake-up call to the General Assembly. Children in state care fail to take action by DCFS. “
Durkin called on Lilly to “immediately call hearings” with Smith on the matter.
“The taxpayer money that has been allocated to DCFS is clearly not being spent as intended by the General Assembly, and the primary mission of DCFS is not being fulfilled,” Durkin wrote. “It is the duty of your committee to investigate this matter immediately, our children cannot wait.”
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The two new contempt cases also call for penalties – fines of $ 1,000 per day, per child, for each day that children ages 9 and 13 are not properly cared for.