Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Pritzker calls for transparency after DCFS withholds reports

By Cole Lauterbach
The Center Square

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for “full transparency” after Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said a state agency improperly withheld information about child caretakers facing licensing troubles. 

NewsChannel 20 in Springfield sent the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services a Freedom of Information Act Request in April seeking information on public or private child welfare employees whose licenses were “revoked, suspended, or relinquished, or have pending charges” filed in fiscal year 2018.

DCFS refused to release all the information, but Raoul’s office told the station’s reporter in a letter that the agency “in lieu of providing her copies of the final administrative actions themselves, DCFS may not redact from that record information that [a state statute] has declared to be public information.”

Pritzker was asked about the ruling Tuesday and affirmed that he would prefer to err on the side of transparency. 

“I’m the first person to say that we want full transparency and make sure that we’re revealing any information,” he said. “I’m the one who, I think, stood up and said we have got to reform DCFS.”

Pritzker, shortly after taking office, enlisted the help of Chicago-based juvenile advocacy organization Chapin Hall to audit DCFS. 

The year the station was looking into was during former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration. Fiscal year 2018 began in July 2017 and ended in June 2018.

The Attorney General opinion wasn’t binding, which means it doesn’t set a new precedent the state’s open records law. 

The station said in a story that it was reviewing the ruling.

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