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DCFS CEO forced out because of systematic racism.

Oh, they'd like you to believe this is about his being an incompetent douchebag. That's true but it's another example of the racism that grips Chicago. I only hope that boss Toni Preckwinkle will find a suitable replacement who's Jewish.

Just kidding, she doesn't hire members of the Tribe. Ooops...I meant sponsor.

Embattled Illinois DCFS chief Marc Smith will step down, leaving behind an agency burdened by systemic failures

The news comes a week after a blistering report from the Illinois auditor general highlighting delays in reporting child abuse to other authorities, protecting children allegedly abused and finding placements for kids.

By Tina Sfondeles, Suntimes

Oct 4, 2023,

Marc Smith, appointed director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 2019, said Wednesday that he would step down by the end of the year.Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Marc Smith took over the beleaguered Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 2019 as the agency dealt with the high-profile deaths of two toddlers.

But after leading DCFS during a pandemic, through more than 10 contempt citations and blistering criticisms, Smith’s decision on Wednesday to resign his post by the end of the year will once again force a leadership reset at an agency that has consistently struggled to repair its systemic failures.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who vowed big changes when he appointed Smith in 2019, is now tasked with finding the agency’s 13th director in 14 years. It’s among the governor’s most critical decisions, and it’s no easy task.

“Recruiting qualified candidates to take on the top job at DCFS is one of the most challenging positions to fill in state government,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Wednesday.

Smith’s resignation, announced in a call with staffers, comes a week after a report from the Illinois auditor general found 33 instances of noncompliance, including that the department did not immediately report to local states’ attorneys 28% of child abuse and neglect reports involving children who had tested positive for a controlled substance.

DCFS has in part blamed some of the agency’s problems on the pandemic. But the issues, including placements and staff shortages, are not new.

Smith’s tenure was marred with controversy, including a Cook County judge last year citing the director with multiple contempt citations for failing to place children under the care of the agency. But an appellate court panel in November 2022 ruled that the judge had abused his discretion with the findings against Smith, overturning 10 of them.

A DCFS review in 2019, issued shortly after Smith took over, found a lack of collaboration between investigators and case managers and a gap in historical information about allegations.

Smith, who will have served as director for more than five years, is one of the longest serving DCFS chiefs in recent history. Jess McDonald served as the agency’s director for nine years between 1994 and 2003, with an earlier one-year stint in 1990.

The agency has had 29 directors since 1964.

George Sheldon, former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s appointed DCFS director, resigned in May 2017 as the agency faced multiple investigations, including into the death of Semaj Crosby, a Joliet toddler who was found dead under a couch. The agency had opened 11 child endangerment investigations into the family, but most were ruled unfounded based on lack of evidence.

Sheldon became the fifth DCFS director in less than a year and a half.

Smith in a statement said he is “incredibly proud of the profound progress we have made.”

“DCFS continues making a difference where it matters most — by keeping children safe, creating brighter futures for the youth in our care, and giving hope to families in crisis that need support,” Smith said. “We are on our way to building a child welfare system in Illinois that will once again serve as a national model.”

But Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said Smith leaves behind a mixed legacy, having provided “sorely needed longer term leadership” and leading the state through an unprecedented pandemic.

But Golbert also noted that, while the agency’s budget nearly doubled since Smith took over, that didn’t translate into improved care for children under the agency.

“The most problematic issue remains a crisis level shortage of placements for children,” Golbert said. “It’s so bad that under Marc Smith’s tenure, we started seeing children being forced to sleep on the floors of DCFS offices, an inappropriate placement, for the first time since the 1990s.”

Golbert said children were also forced to remain locked in psychiatric hospitals for weeks, even after they were cleared to leave because the agency couldn’t find placement. Children were also stuck in juvenile jails with no placement after judges had ordered that they could leave.

In some cases, there were enough empty beds, but not enough staff to take care of the children, he said. Under Smith’s leadership, the state has continued to struggle with hiring enough investigators, among other DCFS positions.

Illinois House Republicans last week held a news conference demanding changes at the agency, including at the top. Illinois House Republican Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, on Wednesday called DCFS “a dysfunctional agency” and said “immediate change is critically necessary.”

McCombie said the House Republican caucus plans to advocate for proposals to reform the agency.

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