Cook County Public Guardian Files Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Children Left Languishing in Locked Psychiatric Facilities

On December 13, 2018, the Cook County Public Guardian filed a class action lawsuit in federal court to address the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' longstanding practice of allowing the children in its care to languish in locked psychiatric facilities for weeks, and even for months, after they are ready for discharge. We have partnered with the firm of Loevy & Loevy to obtain justice for these children.

"Detaining children and youth in locked psychiatric facilities when they don't need to be there is cruel, unusual, and illegal under our Constitution and laws. It is a violation of the children's civil, and most basic human rights," said Public Guardian Charles Golbert at a press conference following the filing. "This practice is heartbreaking, inhumane, and immoral."

Tragically, this practice not only violates vulnerable children's rights, it also costs Illinois millions of dollars – every month DCFS is wasting over $125,000 to lock children in psychiatric wards where they are not supposed to be.

Through the lawsuit, we seek to obtain justice and compensation for the children and youth in DCFS care who were locked in psychiatric wards beyond medical necessity. We also hope that this lawsuit will call attention to, and thereby eliminate the problem. Doing so will not only spare children in the future of the horrific experience of remaining in a locked psychiatric hospital after they are ready for discharge, but will save the Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

A copy of the suit, Charles Golbert, et al., v. Beverly J. Walker, et al., No. 1:18-cv-08176, is available here.