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Improvements promised at Joliet DCFS

7/26/2017, 3:12 p.m.
General Assembly hearing examines state response to Sema'j Crosby's death.
Semaj ML Crosby Will Co Sheriff's office

Sen. Pat McGuire (Joliet) on Tuesday at a General Assembly hearing continued to press the state Department of Children and Family Services for reforms following the death of Sema'j Crosby, a toddler found dead in her home in April.

McGuire commended DCFS Acting Director BJ Walker for making the Joliet DCFS office "the first stop" of Casey Family Programs, national child welfare experts analyzing DCFS' strengths and weaknesses. Yet "for the sake of my constituents and others," McGuire said, he sought answers about five specific areas of concern with the Joliet office.

  • Staffing and caseloads: DCFS acknowledged this has been "a challenge in the

Joliet office" but pledged to ensure adequate staffing and practical caseloads.

  • Case-closing gift-card competition: "Gone," Walker declared.

  • Coordination with third-party providers of Intact Family Services:

Improvements are underway, Walker said, including a daily notification to staff of

new DCFS investigations.

  • Utilization of local resources to assist families: "Absolutely," Walker said,

describing this as "core."

  • Late filing of reports: Walker emphasized that closer linkage between

management and front-line staff is her preferred way to eliminate this problem.

"Acting Director Walker is off to a promising start," McGuire said. "Now it's up to

everyone who cares about kids-community activists, teachers, pastors, legislators-to

support her initiatives that work and suggest changes to those that don't.

Accountability literally will save lives."