New DCFS director investigating child deaths

Nov 20, 2013

The new acting director of Illinois’ child welfare system is investigating an analysis of child deaths compiled by Chicago Public Radio and the Chicago Sun-Times.

 Denise Gonzales has been with DCFS since the 1980s - most recently as chief-of-staff.  She took over after the director stepped down on Friday due to a serious illness.  Gonzales says she’s told staff to look at data analyzed by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, showing more children died of abuse or neglect in recent years.  That’s in spite of department investigations into their families before the death. 

 GONZALES: I need to get to the concrete numbers, the faces behind those numbers, the underlying condition and the contributing factor as to why this happened. And then put it all together and say, ‘What do we need to do?’ Now please understand me, that this needs to be done in very short order because this is a situation that needs immediate attention.

 Gonzales says the situation needs immediate attention.  She’s also looking into the hours case workers and investigators are on the clock.  The department’s inspector general has said those workers’ daytime hours do not serve the needs of families.