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Gov. JB Pritzker Says DCFS Case Workers Need More Training Following Death Of Ja'hir Gibbons

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Department of Children and Family Services has a new director who started Monday, and a new training center, but there is still no word from the independent review that was ordered following the death of 2-year-old Ja'hir Gibbons.

Ja'hir Gibbons
Ja'hir Gibbons

However, there are new details about the level of training for some case workers in DCFS.

"There are some that need new training," said Gov. JB Pritzker. "Many that never got any real training, except they got thrown out in the field with some other investigators or case workers; and that's how they learned, just on the fly, or some that just got thrown out with no training."

It's a concerning revelation, given that a case worker's actions are at the center of a death investigation into Ja'hir, who was allegedly beaten to death at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.

Ja'hir's family was actively being visited by a DCFS-contracted case worker, who allegedly lied about actually seeing the boy on the case report filed two days before the toddler's death.

But according to an incident report just obtained by CBS 2, police observed new and old bruises on Ja'hir as soon as they arrived on scene.

The horrific story was met with calls for change at DCFS.

Monday was Marc Smith's first day as the DCFS director. In his comments at the opening of a new training center for DCFS in Englewood he said, "It's very important that we coach and support them [case workers] in the moment."

He didn't comment on any of the failures that led to his appointment.

"It's going to be the kind of partnership where we have to engage other state agencies," he said.

CBS 2 asked for a follow-up interview, but never got a response.

Acting Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said, despite the now month-long investigation into what happened, "I've seen nothing, no progress, nothing."

The case worker in question was employed through OMNI Youth Services. OMNI said the employee has been "removed from service" pending an investigation.

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