GOP Illinois House Leader Jim Durkin Calls DCFS Director Mark Smith to Trial After Contempt for Violating Children’s Rights

Chicago (CBS) — Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) held state Children and Family Services Director Mark Smith in contempt of court for a violation of children’s rights Later called for hearing and investigation.

In a surprise move, a Cook County Juvenile Court judge issued two contempt of court orders against Smith for violating the rights of two children, CBS 2 investigator Dave Savini reported Friday. from facilities. DCFS could soon be fined up to $2,000 a day unless those children are properly placed.

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Durkin released a letter Monday to State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Oak Park), chair of the Human Services Appropriations Committee. Durkin noted in the letter that the DCFS receives more than $1 billion in state support per year, and “is tasked with protecting the state’s most vulnerable residents, a mission that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.” are necessary for the state.

“This is why it is so heartbreaking to see DCFS Director Mark Smith held in contempt of court for failing to do his job,” Durkin wrote.

A court order against Smith describes how a 9-year-old girl suffered years of physical and sexual abuse at home. Then after entering DCFS care, she was placed in a psychiatric hospital. She was set to be medically discharged in June 2021, but she is still hospitalised.

A judge wrote that the DCFS defied several court orders to take the child out of the hospital in October and November. This is why DCFS Director Smith is being made out of contempt case.

The girl has been lodged in a psychiatric hospital for 221 days from the date she was to be discharged.

The second contempt order was issued after a 13-year-old boy was forced to sleep in a storage room at DCFS Care.

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“He was sleeping on the floor of a utility room in an office,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said. “An office closet.”

The child was then sent to a downstate shelter and has been trapped there for 145 days – the reason for Smith’s other contempt charge.

DCFS had received repeated complaints about her dating several years old. She was sexually assaulted by at least five men over the age of seven and she faced other abuses. DCFS failed to keep her in protective custody until her last rape case at the Grand Motel in October 2020.

“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. Under the Pritzker administration, more than 350 children have been left to remain in psychiatric care despite being approved to move to a family setting,” Durkin wrote in Monday’s letter. “The unprecedented move by the Cook County judiciary to hold Director Smith in contempt should be a wake-up call to the General Assembly. Lack of action by DCFS is failing children in state care. ,

Durkin called on Lilly to “convene an urgent hearing” with Smith on the issue.

“Taxpayer dollars that have been allocated to DCFS are clearly not being spent with the intent of the General Assembly, and are not fulfilling the core mission of DCFS,” Durkin wrote. “It is your committee’s duty to investigate this matter immediately, our children can’t wait.”

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Two new counts of contempt also sought to impose sanctions – a fine of $1,000 per day for every day a 9-year-old and 13-year-olds were not properly held.