Embattled Illinois DCFS director Marc Smith announces resignation


Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith on Tuesday announced he would step down from his high-profile post by year’s end.

The resignation, announced in a call with staffers, comes a week after a blistering report from the Illinois Auditor General that found 33 instances of non-compliance, including that the department did not immediately report to local states’ attorneys 28% of child abuse and neglect reports involving children who had tested positive for a controlled substance.

In another instance, the agency neglected to notify directors of state agencies in a timely fashion cases in which children were alleged to have been abused while receiving care in a hospital.

In all those cases, the reporting time ranged from 34 days to 885 days from the time the investigation was opened, the report found. The report also noted the department didn’t take immediate action to take care of the children in those cases.

DCFS management told the auditor general’s office there wasn’t a way to monitor and track field investigator notifications due to employee oversight.

After the report, DCFS, in a lengthy statement, in part blamed some of the agency’s problems on the fact that they arose at the height of the pandemic. But the agency has a long history of problems, even before Smith took the reins.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019 appointed Smith to lead the troubled agency, which had seen an astounding 12 acting and interim directors within 10 years. At the time, Smith was handed the heavy responsibility of dealing with problems directors have faced for decades, including high caseloads for social workers, low wages for contracted employees, management issues within field offices and lengthy employment processes.

A DCFS review in 2019 found a lack of collaboration between investigators and case managers and a gap in historical information about allegations.

Smith faced numerous contempt charges under his leadership for failing to properly care for children in the agency. But an appellate court panel in November 2022 ruled that the judge had abused his discretion with the finding against Smith, overturning 10 of them.

Illinois House Republicans last week held a press conference demanding changes at the agency, including at the top.

The governor’s office confirmed Smith’s resignation but did not immediately provide further details.


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