DCFS Director Says Agency Won't Remove Children ‘Because of a Dirty House'

A judge on Wednesday reportedly ordered all Illinois Department of Children and Family Services cases in Will County be brought into her courtroom following the death of a 1-year-old girl, whose body was found inside a home shortly after the department visited. 

The home, which authorities said was in "deplorable" conditions, was deemed unfit for human occupancy after the child's death. But during Wednesday's budget hearing in Springfield, DCFS Director George Sheldon reportedly said children are not taken into state custody "because of a dirty house."

“A child may be loved and cared for but they may be poor," he said, noting that he ordered a "full quality assurance review" of Semaj Crosby's case, which he called a "colossal tragedy."

Still, the Chicago Tribune reports Judge Paula Gomora said in juvenile court she didn't get much sleep because she kept thinking about the young child's case.

"If this case is out there, what else is out there?" she said. 

Gomora has been demanding answers on what state child care workers did to help the family of the 1-year-old girl. 

Semaj's body was found last week in a home Joliet Township, which authorities say she and her mother shared with squatters. The house was infested with bedbugs and roaches, according to police. 

DCFS investigators checked on the home at about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, officials said, and all three children were at the home and alive – including Semaj. About three hours later, at about 6:30 p.m., the family reported Semaj missing. Her body was found inside the home less than two days later. 

An autopsy was completed last week, though it determined that the cause of death was "pending further studies."

During a Tuesday hearing, Gomora said DCFS caseworkers missed obvious signs of trouble in previous visits to the home.

DCFS contracted with the private child welfare agency Children's Home and Aid to provide services to the family. Both DCFS and Children's Home and Aid declined to comment Tuesday, but an attorney for the agency told the judge in court Wednesday that the investigator who visited the home the day Semaj went missing instructed the mother to clean up and put the bunk beds provided to her back together, the Tribune reports.

Attorney Susan Baker reportedly said the caseworker promised to return in three days to check in. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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