Auditor says DCFS still struggling in many areas

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services failed to correct more than a dozen problems found in past audits — some dating back to 1998 — and developed four more areas that need work, according to a state report issued this week.

While Auditor General William Holland’s office did conduct a financial audit, many of the problems it found also detailed the department’s falling short in promptly starting investigations into child abuse or neglect reports, making timely findings in those cases and conducting child death reviews in a swift manner.

DCFS did promptly begin investigations into more than 99 percent of abuse or neglect reports, with roughly 67,000 such reports coming in both 2013 and 2014.

But the department also was tardy looking into about 180 reports in 2014 and 150 reports in 2103.

In making on-time determinations as to whether reports of abuse were founded, the department was behind the mark in about 1,800 of its cases (2.73 percent) in 2014 and nearly 2,400 cases (3.6 percent) in 2013.

The department also was behind in reviewing child death cases.

The auditor’s report said 80 reviews of “closed” child death cases were not conducted for an average of 182 days in 2013.

In 2014, 27 reviews were not conducted within 90 days from the close of the investigation. Instead, those reviews came in, on average, at 172 days.

The numbers were similar for reviews deaths in which the investigations had not been closed.

In 2013, 23 reviews were not conducted within 90 days. In 2014, ten reviews were not conducted within 90 days. On average, those reviews in each year came at in 165 days.

A state law says the department has 90 days from notification to conduct such reviews.

Additionally, the auditors found:

  • The Department lacked adequate review procedures to ensure the accuracy of financial statement information.
  • Child Welfare and Foster Care and Intact Family Case files lacked required documentation and not all case procedures were performed in a timely manner.

The auditors reported noted DCFS did not dispute the findings and said it work on the deficiencies.

Andrew Flach, the department’s deputy communications director, released this statement:

“DCFS is working diligently under the direction of acting Director George Sheldon with the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner to offer real, concrete reforms that correct the mistakes of past administrations so that audits like this become a thing of the past as our state moves forward.”

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