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In Latest Failure, DCFS Left 10-Year-Old With Psychological Problems In An Office, For 30 Hours

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Workers for the state's child welfare agency knowingly left a 10-year-old child with psychological problems in their office for 30 hours, failing to place the child in a proper facility.

"A stranger who lives on the street could have done a better job" caring for the child, the American Civil Liberties Union's Heidi Dalenberg told a federal court at a hearing on the Department of Children and Family Service's failures.

Dalenberg said 10 high-profile DCFS staffers knew of the case. "No one had the sense to take [the child] to the ER," she said.

The girl was kept in a DCFS office from a Thursday to Saturday in October.  She should have been taken to an ER, or psychiatric hospital.

DCFS admitted in court that it facing big challenges regarding staffing.

The hearing comes on the heels of DCFS' failure in the A.J. Freund case. In the months since the death of A.J., the McHenry County State's Attorney says the system that failed the Crystal Lake five-year old has actually gotten worse, the state's attorney says.

In December 2018, a DCFS investigator deemed neglect allegations against A.J.'s mother unfounded, after a doctor could not pinpoint the cause of a mysterious bruise on the boy's hip.

The firings of DCFS investigators Carlos Acosta and Kathleen Gold, and their supervisor Andrew Polovin were recommended by the agency's inspector general in a confidential written report prepared for the head of DCFS, according to sources.

A.J. was killed in April, and his parents have been charged with his murder.

"The DCFS staffing numbers at the Woodstock facility where A.J. Freund was seen remains in crisis," Dalenberg told the court.

In another case, two teens stuck in the foster system were put in shackles, even though they've done absolutely nothing wrong.

DCFS said no to an on-camera interview in that case about what exactly "secure transport" of youth entails and when its used. But a spokesperson said over the phone "there are some guidelines, but it's not clear what the policies are, and there are gaps in that policy."

DCFS was asked if the agency could provide a handbook on those policies.

"Not at this time," said the spokesperson.

Effective today,  a court order is in place saying that can't happen again. Workers can use soft restraints.


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