SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, is battling child abuse with the passage of legislation to streamline the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) handling of suspected child abuse or neglect.
“Child abuse is a terrible tragedy and we need to do everything we can to end it,” Connor said. “People trained to prevent this need to be in constant contact in cases where children are being neglected or mistreated. Bureaucracy and procedural red tape cannot get in the way of taking care of kids.”
Connor passed House Bill 831, now signed by the governor, which requires the DCFS to report any findings regarding suspected mistreatment of children to the Department of Public Health and the Department of Health and Family Services within 10 days of their discovery. The bill also removes a requirement that the director of the DCFS has to approve the release of these records.
Child abuse affects tens of thousands of Illinois children every year. In 2018, an average of 222 child abuse reports were filed every day. Ensuring that these reports make it to the right people is critical to tackling this problem.
“Unfortunately, sometimes kids in dangerous environments fall through the cracks and end up forgotten about by the people who are in charge of protecting them,” Connor said. “After attending a joint committee hearing into DCFS’ handling of the Semaj Crosby case two years ago, and hearing, among other things, how the computer systems didn’t allow different DCFS investigators investigating the same incident to share information between each other in an organized manner, it was clear that changes were needed. This legislation is the product of those inquiries into how investigations could be handled better. It is unfortunate that it took a wakeup call like Semaj’s death to begin to address the problems on a wide scale.”