A federal judge has approved an improvement plan for Illinois' child welfare agency that includes reforms for helping children with psychological, emotional and behavioral problems.

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso signed off on the overhaul on Wednesday. The roughly 60-page document is part of a longtime consent decree aimed at improving care. It follows an American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois lawsuit.

"Swings" By Flickr User halfrain / (CC X 2.0)

A record number of youth have been killed while in the care of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, many of them victims of Chicago's gang violence.

The Chicago Tribune reports 11 youths died during a two-year period that ended June 30, 2015.

A confidential Office of the Inspector General report obtained by the newspaper notes societal problems such as poverty played a role. It also identifies failures in the state system.

Many teens were placed for long periods in emergency shelters or in homes located in rival gang territories.

Audit Finds Flaws In DCFS Tracking Systems

Sep 8, 2016
"Keyboard" By Flickr User Jeroen Bennink / (CC BY 2.0)

A new audit of Illinois’ child welfare system shows the state’s long-troubled Department of Children and Family Services is not tracking some basic data about where children are being placed.

Every year - DCFS leaves kids in places where they shouldn’t be.

They stay locked up in juvenile detention centers even though they’re free to go.

And they remain in hospitals for mental health needs even though it’s no longer medically necessary.

But a new audit shows DCFS isn’t tracking how often that happens.


The head of Illinois' child welfare agency says the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer has spurred more focus in how the agency handles cases of troubled youths.

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says since police footage was released in November, agency workers have gone through thousands of pages of documents relating to Laquan McDonald, who was a state ward for most of his 17 years.

Sheldon says the agency has changed how workers review cases like McDonald's.

Loyola University School of Law

Illinois’s child welfare agency wants to do a better job taking care of its most troubled kids - and they have a plan.

The idea is that kids who have suffered abuse or witnessed violence would be placed with families with no more than two wards per home. The parents in these foster homes would get special training and at least one would stay home full time.