Senator Hunter says abuse and neglect deaths are unacceptable, demands improvement

HUnter-DCFSFrustrated by the number of children dying from abuse and angered by the tragic story of one Chicago girl’s recent death, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter confronted the state’s child welfare agency on Tuesday and demanded changes.

“We have 111 children that have died. That is not acceptable. Every single one of you all need to resign,” Hunter, a Chicago Democrat, told top administrators at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services during a hearing.

Hunter, a member of the Senate Democrat’s leadership team, has long been an advocate for the state’s neediest children. Tuesday’s convening of a special Senate panel examining issues at DCFS comes in response to record high child fatality numbers and the high-profile death of an 8-year-old Chicago girl.

Gizzell Ford died in July after repeatedly suffering abuse and living in squalor. Two family members now face murder charges.

Hunter wants to know how the young girl slipped through the cracks at DCFS and what can be done to try to ensure it never happens again.

DCFS officials previously said 111 children died from abuse in neglect during the most recent annual report – one that covered July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. At Tuesday’s hearing, the agency director revised that number down to 104 and said the record levels were mostly due to the agency redefining what types of deaths are included in abuse and neglect cases.

Media coverage of Tuesday’s hearing can be found at the following sites:

Chicago Tribune: Senate panel grills DCFS over child death data

CBS Chicago: DCFS Comes Under Criticism At State Senate Hearing

Chicago Sun-Times: DCFS undercounted deaths from abuse, neglect over five years

Category: Social Justice

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