It was déjà vu for some state legislators Wednesday as they heard reports of ineptitude within the state’s child welfare agency that left wards of the state open to neglect, abuse and crime.

January 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lawmakers tire of DCFS’ lack of accountability
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Bobbie Gregg
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REALTOR-LORI NAESE

Posted: Thursday, January 8, 2015 9:33 am
Mark Fitton
Watchdog Illinois | 0 comments
It was déjà vu for some state legislators Wednesday as they heard reports of ineptitude within the state’s child welfare agency that left wards of the state open to neglect, abuse and crime.

In one instance, a 14-year-old girl who had run away from a suburban TREATMENT CENTER tried to return but was refused entrance, said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who testified before a special legislative committee in Chicago.

At the time the girl was being trafficked by a pimp, said Dart, whose department intervened.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said in a telephone interview he was disgusted by the reports of abuse and lack of accountability he’s heard.

“My view is that we critically need a new director, and I know that will happen soon with Gov. Rauner,” McSweeney said.

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, a member of the joint legislative committee, said the General Assembly “absolutely” has to give the Department of Children and Family Services a top to bottom examination and ensure better performance.

“We have to look at what’s falling through the cracks, and in this case that’s children,” Cabello said. “The kids are the ones having to live through this, and it’s another case where the grownups are proving they don’t care.”

Cabello’s remarks, which came after the hearing on problems within DCFS’ RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAM, dovetailed with those of state Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, and Dart, a former state legislator.

Dart RECALLED working with Flowers 20 years ago on nearly identical issues.

“Here we are 20 years later, and nothing’s changed,” he testified. “This is horribly broken system. Fix it.”

Said Flowers, “For years I have seen children destroyed by a system intended to save them.”

Testimony and lawmaker questions focused on several problem areas within DCFS and about 50 contracted residential centers that serve about 1,200 wards of the state.

• Data on unusual incidents is not stored, shared or tracked in a meaningful way. For instance, DCFS has 50-some codes for unusual incidents, but those include practically anything from a hangnail to human trafficking. Major cases are mixed in with minor, and there’s little tracking of trends or recognition of systemic problems.

• Accountability is next to nonexistent. Dart said he couldn’t imagine telling a judge or voters that he didn’t know how many stabbings or fights occurred at his jail and still expect to continue in office. But at DCFS, “Don’t know; we don’t track that,” seemed to be a frequent answer.

• A culture within contracted agencies and DCFS that focuses on little but marking down unusual incidents and keeping them in house — away from the department’s top brass and even from law-enforcement agencies offering help.

• Incredible employee turnover in the child protection system, from TREATMENT CENTER employees making minimum wage to a revolving door in the office of the director.

In fact, Acting Director Bobbie Gregg on Wednesday said she’d been informed by the incoming Bruce Rauner administration that she would not be in the post beyond Jan. 19.

Gregg, appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn in March, said she was the seventh director in four years.

That has to change, Cabello said.

Cycles of crisis “just cannot continue to be the case anymore,” he said. “DCFS has to have a foundation.”

DCFS came under a bright spotlight late last year after a Chicago Tribune investigation found from 2011-13, state facilities reported 428 cases of sexual assault or abuse and 1,052 physical assaults.

The newspaper series focused in part on Indian Oaks Academy, a 112-bed RESIDENTIAL FACILITY in Manteno.

A subsequent auditor general’s report requested by the General Assembly showed massive gaps in DCFS’ record keeping and tracking systems.

Gregg on Wednesday briefly covered some of the emergency measures she’s put in place to address the problems raised in the newspaper reports and auditor general’s findings.

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DCFS Director is leaving the appearance lots of malfeasance to hide….

January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

DCFS Director Says Child Abuse Claims “Appalling”
Yesterday at 1:58 PM in Local
DCFS Director Says Child Abuse Claims “Appalling”
PHOTO: NEWSRADIO WTAX
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Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobbie Gregg says abuse CLAIMS at centers where wards of the state are housed are “appalling” and “unacceptable,” but have plagued child welfare in Illinois for decades.

Gregg testified Wednesday before state lawmakers in the wake of a newspaper investigation. The Chicago Tribune has published a series looking into allegations of violence, assault and prostitution at privately-run residential TREATMENT FACILITIES. The Tribune cited interviews and data from the agency.

Gregg says she hopes the lawmaker hearings on the issue are a chance to pursue reforms.

She was named to the post last year by outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn. Gregg says her tenure won’t be renewed and she’s leaving the JOB later this month after Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes office.

Tags: bobbie gregg, chicago tribune, child abuse, DCFS
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Illinois lawmakers say DCFS faces ‘horrendous’ challenges

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

    • Illinois lawmakers say DCFS faces ‘horrendous’ challenges

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  • By Kerry Lester
    The Associated Press
    Posted Mar. 8, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

    Two Democratic lawmakers involved in overseeing the troubled Illinois Department of Children and Family Services say the agency faces “horrendous” challenges in the year ahead as officials deal with yet another search for a new child-welfare chief, anticipated budget cuts and election year politics.

    Officials fear that efforts to help the agency could suffer if a replacement is not quickly found for recently resigned Arthur Bishop, the fourth chief to head the agency in less than a year’s time, or if a change in governor after November’s election means yet another leadership shift.

    State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat who chaired a series of hearings last fall in response to a rash of problems at the agency, says the leadership void puts any future reforms on hold.

    “It’s hard to get traction when you don’t have anybody that’s really leading this,” Morrison said. She said she is calling on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to “find someone as soon as humanly possible.”

    Bishop resigned last month after reports surfaced about previous legal problems. The 61-year-old was accused of stealing more than $9,000 from clients at a Chicago social-services agency who thought Bishop was helping them get their driver’s licenses back after drunken-driving convictions. He later said he was wrongly accused and made the “agonizing” decision to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge to end the strain on his family.

    He said he was stepping down to avoid becoming a distraction for Quinn, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign.

    The governor’s office says it has launched a nationwide search for a replacement. But Morrison fears the search, and any replacement’s longevity, could be complicated by the election. Four Republicans – state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford – are vying in the March 18primary to be the party’s nominee to unseat Quinn.

    Meanwhile, Greg Harris, chairman of the House appropriations committee for human resources, told The Associated Press that he expects DCFS to see a roughly 15 percent dip in funding if the state’s temporary income tax increase expires as planned, beginning next January. The rollback is expected to lead to an overall $1.5 billion drop in annual state revenue.

    Some Democrats are building the case for the hike to be extended while many Republicans are calling for it to expire.

    The leadership and funding challenges come at a particularly bad time for DCFS, following reports of a spike in child deaths and a recent state audit that found that the agency was failing to initiate investigations within a timely manner, among other problems.

    “There’s a horrendous challenge that looms over the agency, that the new director is going to be faced with,” said Harris, a Chicago Democrat. “Regardless of what reforms we want to have, they’re going to be nearly impossible.”

    • Quinn spokeswoman Grant Klinzman said Friday that the governor’s office is “committed” to finding strong leadership for the agency. He described acting director Bobbie Gregg, an attorney and social worker, as “well suited to lead the agency” in the interim.

      “We are incredibly hopeful that a director will be found that will bring stability to the department and will continue to move our mission forward,” said DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins.

      Morrison said that, as the search continues, she plans to continue pushing for reforms, including a piece of legislation that requires the state to name “mandated reporters” of child abuse and neglect, such as daycare workers, to be re-trained every few years.

      “This is a good year for us to be planning to put things in place that don’t require funding,” she said. “Getting everyone on the same page.”

      ___

      Follow Kerry Lester on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kerrylester

    Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140308/News/140309383#ixzz2vZe5qFbi 

Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140308/News/140309383#ixzz2vZdbrWIT

DCFS chief Arthur Bishop steps down from Quinn appointment.

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

The appearance of foul play with the Burks and his dealings with D.C.F.S.

 

DCFS chief Arthur Bishop steps down after Sun-Times, WBEZ reports

BY CHRIS FUSCO, FRANK MAIN AND TONY ARNOLD February 26, 2014 3:25PM

 

Updated: February 27, 2014 7:54PM

Arthur D. Bishop, who was appointed last month to run the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, stepped down Wednesday following a series of Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ reports that revealed a theft conviction and paternity case in his past.

The announcement of Bishop’s resignation came shortly after the news organizations had posted a story in which a daughter, Erica Bishop, questioned how Arthur Bishop could care for the state’s most troubled children given that he had shunned her for her entire life — even after DNA testing proved she was his daughter nearly 11 years ago.

“He’s supposed to be protecting the kids of the state — and you’ve got a kid out here you never done anything for,” Erica Bishop said. “He left me as a father, which I think that’s unfair to me and it’s unfair to my kids. . . . As far as them wanting to keep giving him higher positions to look over people’s kids, I don’t agree.”

Sun-Times and WBEZ reporters interviewed Erica Bishop on Tuesday morning and requested an interview with Arthur Bishop that afternoon.

On Wednesday afternoon — shortly after Erica Bishop’s statements were published online — Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed posted a story about Bishop’s resignation letter as the Illinois Secretary of State’s office was notifying other media that Quinn had appointed a new acting DCFS chief.

That interim director, attorney and social worker Bobbie M. Gregg, has worked at DCFS for about a year. Gregg, 57, is now deputy director of the agency’s Bureau of Operations.

Quinn administration aides indicated the governor plans to conduct a wider search for a permanent DCFS boss.

In his resignation letter, Arthur Bishop, 61, said his last day as DCFS chief will be Friday. Citing the upcoming gubernatorial election, he wrote: “I cannot be used as a distraction to the real issues that face the state and the children that remain in state custody.”

Bishop had been arrested on a felony theft charge in 1993 and accused of bilking clients of the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center out of more than $9,200, the Sun-Times and WBEZ reported earlier this month.

He did so by creating a “bogus” program for convicted drunken drivers, said Lucy Lang-Chappell, former executive director of the center, who was his boss. According to Lang-Chappell, Bishop had been improperly taking money from clients and providing them with forms they wrongly believed would allow them to get their drivers’ licenses back — though the center wasn’t licensed by the state to provide that service.

Bishop pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor theft in 1995, months after DCFS had hired him as a caseworker. He has maintained that he was innocent of the theft allegations and pleaded guilty only to avoid the strain on his family. He was sentenced to conditional discharge without having to pay any restitution.

Erica Bishop agreed to be interviewed this week after the Sun-Times and WBEZ disclosed the 2003 paternity case. In the nearly 11 years since DNA testing proved that Bishop was her father, the 27-year-old woman has had two kids of her own — a 9-year-old girl and a 6-month-old boy who’ve never met their grandfather, who also is an ordained minister.

Quinn administration aides had said both court cases are decades old and shouldn’t tarnish the stellar work that Arthur Bishop has done as a child advocate, including his previous job as head of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

Erica Bishop bristled at that suggestion.

“For people to say I’m in the past, I’m not in the past,” she said. “I’m in the past only because nobody knows about me.

“You supposed to be a child advocate and a minister and all this stuff. . . . I watched videos of him on YouTube. All these little boys giving him so much praise . . . sitting down and talking to him like a father. A father? Seriously? A father? He’s sitting down telling these little boys, ‘I want to talk to you. I want to have a father-to-son talk with you.’ You never had a father-and-daughter talk with me.”

Erica’s mother, Yolanda O’Connor, claimed in court filings that Arthur Bishop knew Erica was his daughter from the time she was born in 1986, while Bishop was married to his current wife.

Arthur Bishop maintained he’d never met Erica — and didn’t even know O’Connor claimed Erica was his daughter until O’Connor served him with court papers.

The case ended with O’Connor winning a $4,175 judgment and health insurance coverage for Erica until she turned 18. But a judge denied O’Connor’s request for back child support after Arthur Bishop argued she’d “in fact concealed” that he was Erica’s father.

O’Connor represented herself in the case. Bishop was represented by Marina E. Ammendola — the lawyer who represented Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, in their high-profile custody battle over the boy known as “Baby T.” Bishop had been involved in the Baby T case as a DCFS caseworker in the late 1990s.

Erica Bishop said she recalled meeting her father when she was in high school, before her mom sued him.

Her mother, she said, drove a friend and her to meet Bishop at his DCFS office at the Thompson Center, where Bishop at first mistook Erica’s friend for his daughter.

“He went to my friend and talked to her. And I’m like, ‘Hello? She’s not your daughter, I am,’ ” Erica Bishop recalled. “Honestly, I was actually excited. And he killed my excitement.”

Their five- to 10-minute conversation was the longest the two have shared, but Erica Bishop has seen her father — and her half-siblings — at various times. Arthur Bishop has lived in Maywood for years, and Erica Bishop grew up in nearby Bellwood.

Erica, who paid her way through college and now works as a waitress, says she would have liked the opportunity to get to know her siblings. “Somewhere down the line, yeah, I wanted to know my brother and sister because I think we deserve to know each other. They might have kids. And I have kids,” she said.

She also said she isn’t interested in getting any more money from Bishop, who made $150,000 a year as DCFS chief.

“Financially, he can keep his money. He can die with it,” she said. “I feel like I was cheated. You took care of your other kids. Why you didn’t take care of me? . . . All I want is an explanation.”

Chris Fusco and Frank Main are Sun-Times staff reporters. Tony Arnold is a reporter for WBEZ.

 

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