How many kids sleep in DCFS offices? Public guardian wants to know

“Either the problem is much bigger than we suspect, or they’re not tracking it, or not tracking it consistently,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said.

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Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert

Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert

Sun-Times file photo

A lawsuit was filed Monday seeking to force the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to disclose how many children under its care end up sleeping in administrative office space on the city’s Near South Side, sometimes on floors, when a nearby shelter is full.

Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert filed the suit Monday asking the Cook County Circuit Court to order DCFS to hand over “nonexempt public records” that Golbert had initially requested June 28 via the Freedom of Information Act.

Golbert requested records about how many kids had slept in an office in the previous six months and how DCFS tracks and provides care for kids who end up sleeping in office space.

A DCFS spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Golbert’s office provides legal representation to abused and neglected children, as well as children in custody and divorce cases.

His office represents about 6,000 kids winding their ways through the Child Protection Division of the Cook County Circuit Court. Most of those kids are in the custody or guardianship of DCFS.

“Sleeping in offices, instead of clinically appropriate placements, is a violation of children’s basic civil rights,” the lawsuit stated.

Golbert said his office learned of the situation last month through routine court hearings where it was mentioned a child had slept in an office space.

Golbert said he was aware of a total of six kids who’d slept in DCFS offices in the 1900 block of South Indiana Avenue. The kids slept on cots, office furniture or the floor, he said.

“But I want to know the full extent,” he said Monday. “Is it three or six or a few dozen or a few hundred?”

Asked why he thought DCFS would not share the records, Golbert responded: “Either the problem is much bigger than we suspect, or they’re not tracking it, or not tracking it consistently.”

The lawsuit not displaying properly? Try clicking Public Guardian vs DCFS. (pdf)

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