Last July, I wrote a blog, “Children First?,”where I shared my thoughts about the compliance examination report published by the Auditor General. It concerned the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the report covered the two years ending in June 30, 2010. It was frightening to read, after I realized that the abuses in the system dealt with the state’s most precious commodities—its children.
The summary showed that there were 13 major problem areas noted, which was better than the 15 cited in the previous report. But then, I realized that 10 of them were repeat findings from the last audit covering 2007 and 2008. This was absolutely unacceptable!
Were any changes implemented at DCFS? The answer sadly is, “no.” Things got worse.
Last Friday State Rep. Jack Franks ( D-Marengo), in response to a joint report of large-scale abuse and cronyism issued by the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) and the Inspector General of DCFS, held a hearing to investigate how a close friend of former DCFS Director Erwin McEwen was allowed nearly unsupervised control of more than $18 million in state grants.
“The sheer magnitude and depth of this abuse is breathtaking,” said Franks. “To add insult to injury, Director McEwen was allowed to stay on the job for months after the Governor was made aware of his deficiencies.”
After receiving the Inspector General’s report detailing widespread negligence under McEwen leadership, Governor Quinn waited four months before accepting the Director’s resignation. Notably, McEwen refused to cooperate with the Inspector General’s investigation, even though as a State employee he was required to legally.
“The first day an employee of mine stopped cooperating would be his last day on the job,” continued Franks. “Not only was Mr. McEwen using his position to facilitate the squandering of millions of public dollars, he was allowed to continue collecting a paycheck months after the Inspector General informed Governor Quinn of his findings.”
The report details alleged abuse and fraud perpetrated by business entities operated by Dr. George E. Smith. From ghost employees and forged signatures to excess billing for administrative costs and the administration of psychotropic drugs to DCFS wards without proper consent – the findings paint a troubling picture of inadequate oversight and failure to monitor grant contracts across several State agencies that paid out grants to Smith.
Illinois remains months behind in paying lawful vendors, the negligence and failure to undertake even the most rudimentary oversight of grants came at the expense of children and families that rely on legitimate service providers,” concluded Franks. Illinois
Franks, the chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee, and state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the chairman of the House Human Services Committee, will hear from witnesses across government agencies to fully investigate the report’s findings.
What happened at the hearing? You will have to wait for the results. Meanwhile, go sit in the corner and take a time out.