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'Numbers don't lie': After a 10th child on the DCFS radar dies in the last 9 months, lawmakers demand changes

After a 10th child dies in the last 9 months under DCFS care, lawmakers demand changes
After a 10th child dies in the last 9 months on the DCFS radar, lawmakers demand changes 02:40

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CBS 2 has learned another child on the radar of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has died.

He's the 10th child in nine months. CBS 2's Chris Tye has uncovered what lawmakers call a crisis inside the department tasked with caring for the state's most vulnerable.

Joel Watts was 12. He loved to cook and dance on TikTok and was known as Cuco to his family. His body was removed from the family's home in Chicago's Fernwood neighborhood August 19th, making him the 10th child on the radar of the state's child welfare office to die in the last nine months

"At what point is enough is enough? Obviously, whatever they are doing isn't working."

Illinois State Representative Fred Crespo (D-44) heads the audit commission that oversees DCFS. In July, he pressed DCFS Director Marc Smith on the death of the kids.

"He looked at me and did not give me an answer. And here we are today. Month and a half and two months later and that number is 10.  Numbers don't lie," Crespo said.

"This agency is broken at its core."

Illinois State Senator Chapin Rose (R-51) is also on the DCFS oversight commission.

He said DCFS covers too much: from kids in danger to licensing child care facilities. He argues any duty not related to keeping kids like Joel alive should be taken off their plate.

"It needs to be completely restructured in terms of its duties, management functions and certainly in terms of its personnel," Rose said.

DCFS said the last time there was a report of neglect or abuse of Joel was five years ago. DCFS is working with his family to make sure his siblings are safe.

It's a department that's been plagued by problems under Democrat and Republican governors. Governor JB Pritzker continues to support the DCFS director whose been held in contempt of court 12 times. They have an annual budget of over $1.5 billion.

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