DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - A new law sponsored by state Rep. Sue Scherer will help protect children under the care of the Department of Children Family Services by implementing reform in their safety checks.
House Bill 1551, will help overhaul home safety checks for children that were in foster or substitute care and have returned home to their families. The proposal requires the auditor general to conduct performance audits of various home-safety checks within one year and every two years after the first audit.
“The status quo is absolutely broken. We need to be doing more to ensure the safety and well-being of children that are under DCFS care,” Scherer said. “As a mother and grandmother, it pains me to think that some child-protective cases have slipped through the cracks and children have been placed into dangerous living environments without proper oversight.”
Scherer helped introduce the legislation after the tragic deaths of children in the care of DCSF in the last few years, including the case of Ta'naja Barnes. The bill passed Legislature with support from both sides and was recently signed by Gov. JB Pritzker.
“Children living in unsafe and difficult environments deserve better, “Scherer said. “I look forward to continuing bipartisan efforts with the governor and my colleagues in the legislature to ensure that DCFS has the resources and support to keep at-risk children safe.”
Ieasha Dean, Barne's foster mother for two months, expressed contentment when she found out. She described Barnes as a happy child.
"I hate that a child had to die for this to actually happen because this is something that should've been done anyway," Dean said.
The foster mother of 14 years hoped this will prevent a child from slipping through the cracks and losing a life. She added DCFS workers should have been more proactive.