EYEWITNESS NEWS CAPITOL BUREAU - Child advocacy groups are calling out the Department of Children and Family Services for lack of transparency.
DCFS hasn't published child abuse and neglect numbers since July. It's something, for the past 35-years, they've done monthly.
The issue is gaining attention as months go by without the statistics. It's been roughly eight months since the public has seen data showing how many children are reportedly being abused or neglected statewide.
Groups like the ACLU, the Foster Care Alumni of America and the Association of Social Workers Illinois, all depend on the data to keep track of abuse cases and ensure DCFS is doing it's job. The information on the "Executive Statistical Summary" reports calls collected on the child abuse hotline, detailing where abuse is happening in the state and what the circumstances might be.
DCFS blames the halt on technical issues. A spokesperson says they're working with Department of Information Technology (DoIT) to replace outdated software.
Some advocate groups the timeline doesn't add up.
"It’s generally infuriating that we’re not able to get this data this is really core data so we can identify where trends are in the state where abuse cases are happening whether or not the department is doing their job in investigating those abuse cases, and without this data we can’t advocate for those children or the social workers that are suppose to be doing this work,” says Kyle Hillman of the National Association of Social Workers Illinois.
The last report was issued a month after new director, Beverly Walker, took over.
When asked when new data would become available a DCFS spokesperson responded, "We are determining whether there is a legal mandate to produce this particular report."
The issue could be brought to light in during a committee hearing Thursday, but it's unclear if DCFS will be attending.
The president of the Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter is calling on DCFS to publish new numbers. He says the department did not release information when they submitted a FOIA.
It released the following statement:
Without this data, we are unable to be the fighters that these abused and neglected kids need and deserve. We hope that now there is a light shined on this issue the Department will follow the rich 35-year history, that protects our kids and strengthen our families.
"The lawyers that we communicate with tell us that they do know why this stopped and are looking into it." says ACLU spokesperson Ed Yohnka