Rise in Downstate Child Abuse Raises Questions for Senate Committee

Aug 27, 2013

The chair of a new Illinois Senate committee on child welfare wants answers to rising child abuse in downstate Illinois.  I-P-R’s Patrick Smith has more.

A state audit earlier this summer found that more Illinois children died from abuse or neglect over the past year than in any year since 1994. State officials say most of the increase is in areas outside of Cook County.

CALICA: “Child abuse and neglect has been migrating south in Illinois.”

That’s Richard Calica head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
He told members of the Senate subcommittee that the number of children taken into DCFS care dropped by almost 50 percent in Cook County between 2000 and 2010. But grew by 14 percent in the rest of the state. Committee chair, Senator Julie Morrison pushed Calica to explain downstate’s increase in child abuse cases.

MORRISON: “Can you come up with anything else?”

CALICA:  “Well I’ve asked some of our university partners to look into and we’ll look at the data that we have but there’s actually no way of knowing it.”

Calica says DCFS has shifted some resources downstate, and will determine if more are needeed