DCFS now monitoring Allendale youth facility daily

  • Shaquan Allen

    Shaquan Allen

 
 
Updated 4/6/2016 5:09 PM

State child welfare officials have increased monitoring at a Lake Villa residential facility for troubled youths after the recent death of a teen there.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services employees are visiting the Allendale Association facility daily, DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said.

 

Additionally, a team from the University of Illinois at Chicago has been brought in "to make sure all the policies and procedures are being followed."

The moves follow the March 30 death of 16-year-old Shaquan Allen. The Chicago boy asphyxiated after an Allendale employee placed him in a chokehold, authorities have said.

Allendale employee James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in connection with Allen's death. A second employee, Justin Serak, 27, of Grafton, Wisconsin, is charged with obstruction of justice.

Officials said the two men responded to a behavioral issue and were trying to get Allen back to his room. Serak grabbed his legs and Davis his upper body, applying a chokehold, officials said.

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When initially questioned about the teen's death, Davis and Serak lied and said he slipped on water, Lake County prosecutors said.

Both DCFS and Allendale prohibit using chokeholds to restrain youths, Resa said.

DCFS trains employees how to de-escalate situations without resorting to physical violence, Resa said. The approach is called therapeutic crisis intervention.

Allen's death remains under investigation.

DCFS has placed 53 youths at Allendale, but the monitors are watching all of the children and employees at the facility, Resa said.

"We look at everything," she said. "All youth matter to us."

The daily monitoring began Friday, Resa said. Monitors previously visited the campus at least once a month, including on the day Allen died, she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As part of the monitoring, DCFS representatives will confirm the number of children at the facility, check staffing ratios, ensure schedules for therapy and activities are being followed and examine other areas of the Allendale program, Resa said.

Despite Allen's death, she said DCFS has "no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary is happening" at Allendale.

Connie Borucki, the senior vice president of human resources and support services at Allendale, said the center welcomes the extra scrutiny. Allendale officials have cooperated with investigators, she said.

"We want to know as much as anybody wants to know exactly what happened, and to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again," Borucki said.

Allendale administrators are continuing to support Allen's family "in any manner possible," Borucki said.

The center also has invited employees and the young residents to speak with grief counselors and other professionals about the situation, she said.

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