Illinois DCFS faces audit
MARION, Ill. - A new audit finds the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is falling behind in meeting child abuse investigation deadlines.
The auditor noticed an increase in the number of case investigations not wrapped up in the 60-day time frame.
The audit revealed that 884 of 65,000 investigations missed the deadline.
Compare that to the previous year when the DCFS had only 115 cases lapse the 60-day period.
A spokesperson says the agency is fully aware that they need to improve on the timeliness of their investigations and says they have been taking steps to get there.
Back in January, the department hired 138 new child abuse investigators to help remedy the problem.
The Illinois DCFS receives about 250,000 calls each year.
"We initiate those investigations within 24 hours or earlier if we have reason to believe there are children who are risk of immediate harm," said agency spokesman Dave Clarkin.
Clarkin says the goal is to wrap up child abuse investigations in 60 days, but he will admit it does not always happen.
He says if the investigation takes longer than 60 days, the children are still being tended to.
"We will immediately put the family and the child on a safety plan if it's warranted, sometimes sending the kids to go live temporarily with relatives," said Clarkin.
Statewide, the department receives and acts upon a report of child abuse every five minutes.
They work a new child sexual abuse case every hour and they are notified of a suspicious child death by abuse or neglect every day and a half.
And these are just the numbers that are reported.
"About four out of five children who are being abused or neglected go unreported to the department," said Clarkin.
Clarkin says the average child in an abusive situation tells seven adults before a call the department is finally made.
Currently, the department is facing a backlog of 300 past-due investigations.
Clarkin says this is due to a record number of suspicious child deaths in the state this year.