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DCFS Teen Illegally Strapped Onto Gurney Against Agency Policy

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Only on 2.

It appears its happened again: A child in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services strapped down for over four hours in the back of an ambulance for no medical reason.

The reporting of CBS 2's Chris Tye has changed the policy that the department is supposed to follow.

So, why isn't the agency following it? The state is so short on beds for foster kids, that when a child needed one last week, the only bed they could find was over four hours away.

And with no other way to get him there, DCFS front liners opted for an ambulance ride that left the teen tied down the whole way.

It's 8:00 Friday night in Arlington Heights. Northwest Community Hospital was adamant a 17-year-old in their psychiatric care was long overdue for release. But as a foster child the state didn't have a bed to move him to.

As recently as this summer, some kids in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services have been sleeping in DCFS offices.

With pressure to find a bed is inappropriate , they found one. But, there was a catch.

"The only placement they can find is an inappropriate emergency temporary shelter bed that's a five hour drive away," said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert.

And the bed wouldn't be saved very long. The next trick: getting the teen from Arlington Heights to that bed in downstate Mt. Vernon.

At a Monday juvenile court hearing, DCFS staffers said a lack of resources left them with no transport options other than an ambulance.

"The next thing we know, the kid has been strapped to a gurney, tied down in the back of an ambulance for a five hour drive," Golbert said.

With no medical or clinical needs, the boy was strapped in and sent south.

Problem is CBS 2 reporting led to policy changes within DCFS. The only way foster kids can be strapped down according to department policy is if a judge, a doctor or the head of DCFS sign off on it.

"None of those three things were done in this case," Golbert said.

The judge Monday demanded the child be returned north by means other than an ambulance.

CBS 2's reporting on shackled foster kids has also led to legislation, which passed the Illinois House and Senate making it illegal to restrain kids without air-tight approval.

Governor JB Pritzker has 60 days to sign it and those sixty days expire this week.

"The system continues to spiral, worse and worse. The worst it has been in the 30 years I've been involved in this," Golbert said.

CBS 2 reached out to to ask how often this is happening and where that boy is.
and did not hear back.

DCFS said the youth was never in restraints but was secured to a gurney for safety reasons.

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