Illinois will tighten youth protections

Illinois will tighten youth protections

The new head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services pledged to improve controls on monitoring neglected and abused children that fall under the agency’s care.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Bryan Samuels to direct the agency as part of the new administration’s reform policies. Samuels led a task force the governor named soon after his inauguration to investigate problems at the DCFS.

The agency has lost track of nearly 500 children that courts have assigned to its care. Several of the children died under extreme conditions despite court orders to remove them from abusive situations.

Jess McDonald, 61, who headed the agency for nine years, resigned in March.

Despite continuing problems, McDonald improved oversight since a 1988 federal court decree mandated smaller caseloads for social workers and other reforms.

The new governor’s task force made a variety of proposals for continuing reforms including immediate measures to address the high proportion of black youths under state care and the filling of 200 caseworker vacancies.

Samuels, 36, previously worked as a juvenile-justice and housing-policy expert for Chicago Metropolis 2020, a nonprofit research institution that deals with poverty issues.

He also served as an adjunct social services professor at the University of Chicago.

Copyright Washington Crime News Service May 2, 2003

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