by Fran Eaton
With all the well-placed criticism of the mainstream media, there should also be backpats when deserved. The Belleville Democrat released a story over the weekend about the deaths of 53 children who were abused to death while under the responsibility of the state's Department of Children and Family Services.
The report was preceded by the apparently spontaneous resignation of the agency's head, Bryan Samuels, last week. The Associated Press has picked up the story, and is published in today's Peoria Journal-Star. . .
The News-Democrat said its review of news accounts, police and coroner's reports and other documents identified 41 of the 53 children who died during the period in question, linking errors to actual cases. During the seven-year period, DCFS' inspector general's office investigated 77 child deaths - 53 involving what the newspaper found to be significant caseworker error or neglect. State child-protection workers who commit serious errors are sometimes disciplined, transferred or counseled, but seldom suspended and almost never fired, according to the newspaper. In 50 child death cases, no department employees or private agency workers were fired. Five employees resigned, 12 were counseled and 14 were disciplined or reprimanded.
This revelation should cause lots of heads to roll.