Worker’s conviction won’t help DCFS

Back in 1988, two Illinois DCFS workers were indicted by a Cook County grand jury and prosecuted by then State’s Attorney Richard J. Daley. This was in response to the horrific murder of Jonathon Campbell and subsequent investigation into his death. They were both ultimately cleared of official misconduct.

It appears that since that time, the relationship between DCFS and the criminal justice system has deteriorated and become even more adversarial. And now, Carlos Acosta, a former DCFS investigator, has been criminally convicted and sentenced on charges of mishandling abuse allegations prior to the murder of A.J. Freund. Young A.J. was brutally murdered by his parents, who are both now serving long prison sentences.

I have no doubt that mistakes were made by Mr. Acosta in this case. It is hard to believe, however, that he did not care about the children and families that he worked with. He has reportedly spent most of his life working in social services. It is well documented how out of compliance DCFS has been for decades in managing caseloads. It is basically an impossible job that those outside of the agency cannot truly comprehend.

Mr. Acosta will spend the next six months of his life in jail as the result of this conviction. He is paying a very heavy price for the mistakes that he made.

DCFS has had over 15 directors during the past two decades, none of whom have been able to successfully address the chronic systemic issues within the department. I don’t think the looming potential to be held criminally liable is going to help DCFS recruit and retain professional staff willing to take on an impossible job. The consequences of mistakes and erroneous judgment could not be costlier, yet the need to assist troubled families and vulnerable children is essential.

Greg Newlin


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