The Latest: Agency reviewing ‘unfounded’ neglect cases
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the death of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund in McHenry County (all times local):
An official says the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is reviewing unproven allegations of child abuse or neglect after the death this week of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund.
Anne Gold is DCFS associate deputy for child protection. She told a House committee Friday that agency administrators are reviewing cases that had been deemed “unfounded” for any child 3 years old or younger. She did not specify a time period.
AJ Freund’s Crystal Lake family had a long history of DCFS contact before his body was found in a shallow grave Wednesday. His parents have been charged with murder. A DCFS caseworker visited AJ’s home last winter and found bruises on AJ but closed the case in January.
Elgin Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller said the review of cases of children 3 and younger wouldn’t have included kids AJ’s age. She says the review should include older children.
The director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is asking for 126 added staff members but tells lawmakers other improvements are necessary to protect the state’s children.
Marc D. Smith is testifying before the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee. Legislators are asking him about DCFS action in the case of Andrew “AJ” Freund. The 5-year-old boy’s body was found in a shallow grave Wednesday in McHenry County. His parents have been charged with murder.
DCFS had a long history of interaction with the Crystal Lake family. The agency has been criticized for not doing more to prevent the deaths of two other children under DCFS watch since February.
Smith says adding more than 100 staff members will alleviate pressure on existing staff. But he says the agency is examining its training protocol and working with community partners to get families the help they need to provide safe homes for their children.
The caseworker and supervisor responsible for monitoring the well-being of a 5-year-old Illinois boy found dead in a shallow grave have been removed from work on child-welfare cases.
The Department of Children and Family Services announced Friday that the two employees have been placed on administrative duty without casework while the agency reviews their interaction with the family of Andrew “AJ” Freund of Crystal Lake and other families. A spokesman declined to name the employees.
DCFS released a timeline showing agency contact with AJ’s family dating to 2012. The latest case was opened in December 2018. Bruising on AJ was attributed to the family dog and the case closed in January.
AJ’s parents have been charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege the couple forced the boy to stand in a cold shower and beat him.
An Illinois lawmaker says the state’s new child welfare director will face tough questions from a state House panel following the beating death of a 5-year-old boy who had extensive contact with child welfare workers.
Chicago Democratic Rep. Sara Feigenholtz says Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc D. Smith will be questioned Friday in Chicago about the agency’s actions in the case of 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund. He was under the agency’s watch when his badly beaten body was discovered Wednesday in a shallow grave in McHenry County.
His parents have been charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege the couple forced the boy to stand in a cold shower and beat him.
Feigenholtz is on the Appropriations-Human Services Committee, which is scheduled to hear budget requests from several state agencies, including DCFS.