IL -Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that 352 out of 409 children
declared missing from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
system late last spring have since been found.
I appointed Bryan Samuels to head our state's troubled childwelfare agency,
I made clear that one of the most disturbing problems that needed to be
addressed within the Department of Children and Family Services was the
abysmal record of tracking and recovering children missing from the system,"
Blagojevich said. "The results we're seeing now, six?months later,
show that the job is getting done."
Blagojevich convened a DCFS Task Force charged with identifying the strengths
and weaknesses with the Illinois child welfare system and offering recommendations
for reforms. One major finding of the Task Force was that the department
failed to work aggressively to track and locate all children missing from
On May 13,
just two weeks after being tapped by Blagojevich to lead the agency through
a period of critical reforms, Director Samuels convened the Illinois Task
Force on Missing Children. The purpose of this task force was to create
a statewide strategic plan to track and locate missing wards and review
issues related to youths absent from care. At that time, DCFS records
showed 409 children as missing. As of today, 86 percent (352) of the original
409 have been located. There are currently 366 children missing from approved
to the success of the agency's recovery efforts is its newly created Child
Location and Support Unit for Missing Children. The Unit operates around-the-clock,
365 days a year, to augment the work of staff that have been spearheading
department efforts to track and locate run-away DCFS wards.
unit is the result of the hard work and commitment of the department to
making sure we bring our youth back into care as quickly as possible,
and once they are back, to make sure they are in placements that effectively
serve their needs," said Director Samuels.
Child Location and Support Unit for Missing Children was based on recommendations
from both the Governor's DCFS Task Force and the Illinois Task Force on
Missing Children. The unit has approximately 14 staff in Chicago and two
employs a computer tracking system unique to Illinois, which greatly speeds
worker and law enforcement access to vital information about a missing
ward. The DCFS missing children database provides detailed background
information about all missing wards, regardless of whether they are served
by DCFS or a private agency. Last month, the database was enhanced to
provide instant access to photos of missing children, and it will soon
link to Department of Public Aid databases that can provide medical information,
including names of a missing ward's medical providers.
also better-equipped to find missing wards. The National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in partnership with DCFS, provided training
for staff in August to prepare them to swiftly investigate reports involving
missing and abducted children. The NCMEC training sessions focused on
child and family abduction, media relations, recovery techniques, sexual
predators, investigative resources, on-line victimization and agency planning.
opening of the unit followed the summer launch of the department's new
24-hour Missing Children Hotline, which is available nationwide. People
with information about missing or abducted DCFS wards are encouraged to
call the 24-hour hotline at 866-503-0184.
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