Pritzker: DCFS and children under its care were neglected for years

The governor and his DCFS director appointee, Marc Smith, responded Wednesday morning to a report which says the child welfare agency values “intact families” to a fault. (Dave Dahl/WJBC)


By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – Once and for all, the state of Illinois vows to get it right on the Department of Children and Family Services. Gov. Pritzker, in a news conference in his office Wednesday, had some tough talk.

“I’m committing the full force of this office to this work,” Pritzker said. “This agency and the children under its care were neglected for years. That changes right now. There is nothing more important to me as governor than protecting this state’s most vulnerable people, especially our children.”

The announcement follows the release of a University of Chicago report criticizing DCFS for its longstanding priority on keeping families intact, apparently to a fault. Some of the 112 DCFS-connected children who have died since the fiscal year started July 1 died, allegedly, at the hands of their own parents.

After all the tragedy and a revolving door of directors, what makes Marc Smith, who would be DCFS director pending Senate confirmation, the one who will change the trajectory?

“Because I am going to work with all the people who are part of the system. I am going to work with the experts in the private sector, with the experts within DCFS, with our support systems, with the legislators, with the ACLU, and everybody who can partner and help us think about this work in a way that will move us forward,” Smith answered.

“I’m committing to that.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at


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