Suit: Agency Keeps Wards Of State In Hospitals Too Long

Craig Dellimore
December 13, 2018 - 4:34 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Craig Dellimore

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been hit with a class-action lawsuit over its practice of leaving children in psychiatric hospitals, even after their treatment has ended.

The Cook County Public Guardian is suing DCFS, saying hundreds of young people are kept in psychiatric hospitals “beyond medical necessity,” as the formal term goes, because there are not enough appropriate homes for them.

One 19-year-old in the system – who identified herself as Skyler – said she spent major holidays and her 16th birthday at a psychiatric hospital. She was there for six months, but her treatment only lasted three months. She said she felt imprisoned and depressed as her stay went on.  

In a statement, DCFS suggests many of the children have behavioral problems so the homes and families don’t want them.

But attorney Russel Ainsworth bristled at that stance, saying, “`Blame the Children’ is not the way the child welfare agency should be responding.’”

He said DCFS has cut funding for appropriate treatment facilities.

Acting Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert put it simply: Keeping children hospitalized longer than necessary is cruel, unusual and against the law.