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Cook County Public Guardian Testifies Before Joint Illinois Senate and House Subject Matter Hearing on Documented Abuse at DCFS Residential Treatment Facilities

On January 7, 2015, Cook County Public Guardian Robert F. Harris testified before a joint Illinois House/Senate Committee Hearing regarding abuse at facilities run by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), highlighted recently by a series of articles in the Chicago Tribune.

In his testimony, Mr. Harris described the tools used by the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian to protect child clients who do not feel safe in their placements, on both individual and systemic levels. He also identified that "the most pressing issue facing youth in state care is the insufficiency of safe, stable, and nurturing placements to meet youths' needs in a timely way." To further illustrate this critical issue, Mr. Harris discussed multiple cases that illuminate "the ills of the child welfare system and its inability to meet the needs of children."

Mr. Harris concluded his testimony with a series of recommendations to improve Illinois' child welfare system and the standard of care for each child in substitute care. These include increasing the effectiveness of DCFS monitoring of group home and residential facilities; adequately supporting critical resources, including convening a task force to determine the actual cost of care for youth in high-end treatment facilities; developing new critical resources to meet children's identified needs in a timely fashion; and thoroughly investigating allegations of maltreatment of youth in care.

For the full text of Mr. Harris' Joint Senate and House Subject Matter Hearing Testimony, click here

For the Chicago Tribune Watchdog "Harsh Treatment" series, click here

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