In 2019, ProPublica Illinois reported that the state’s Department of Child and Family Services was not serving Spanish-speaking families by not offering Spanish-speaking social workers and placing children in homes where the Spanish was not spoken, despite a federal consent decree that has been in place since 1977 requiring the agency to do so.
A follow-up investigation by journalists Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib last August indicates that the agency has made virtually no progress in complying with this consent decree over the past two years – a discovery that was made when Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert took charge of him. himself to check the agency.
âHe had read our previous reports and knew that the agency had struggled for years to follow this consent decree. And so, part of the consent decree, as the most fundamental part, is that DCFS be able to identify if a family needs services in Spanish, âjournalist Melissa Sanchez said. âThey didn’t see these documents appearing in the files when they got hold of a case a few weeks later. And so they were concerned that these forms might never be filled out. And so they counted each case over a 10 month period involving a Spanish speaking familyâ¦ They counted about 80 cases and not a single one of those files contained this form. So this indicates that the agency was simply not complying with the consent decree at all. “
The language determination form also determines whether a Spanish speaking child placed in foster care will be in a Spanish speaking foster home.
âWhat we discovered a few years ago and what is still happening today is basically that families are separated for a very long time. If you don’t speak English and you are assigned a social worker who doesn’t speak Spanish, you will never be able to communicate very well, âsaid Sanchez.
But Sanchez notes that while DCFS appears to be trying to resolve the issue, its difficulties in maintaining an adequate number of bilingual staff on its staff continue.
“There is a lot of turnover at DCFS and especially with bilingual workers, it’s difficult work and bilingual workers feel they have more cases and their workload is heavier than their non-bilingual counterparts” , Sanchez said. âThey have to translate all the filesâ¦ it’s a lot of workâ¦ DCFS says they are constantly recruiting and having job fairs and posting publications everywhere. But it’s hard, it’s hard work to do. People don’t want to stay there for long.