Officials with Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services testified before a Senate committee Tuesday on reforms being made in wake of the Semaj Crosby investigation, where a young girl was found dead hours after investigators checked on her at a Joliet home.
There, newly-appointed DCFS Director Beverly Walker said Semaj's case prompted the department to take a step back from all operations and re-evaluate, saying "this never should've happened."
Walker has been on the job for only four weeks after previous director George Sheldon resigned mid-June and took another job in Florida.
Her testimony was heard by the Illinois Senate Human Services Committee and House Health Care Availability & Accessibility Committee, which planned to review general practices of DCFS and also evaluate any neglect that may have occurred during the Semaj case.
In May, DCFS released a 22-page report detailing its investigation into the death of the child, but did not say why or how the little girl died.
The toddler was the subject of a massive search before her body was found under a couch in her family's Joliet home earlier this year.
The report contains information regarding the various people who inhabited the home, including Semaj's biological parents. It also notes mental health concerns among adults and children living in the home. It states Semaj's cause of death as "unknown" pending the results full autopsy.
The director for DCFS, George Sheldon, resigned roughly one month after Semaj's death.
Sheldon told the Chicago Tribune investigators could benefit from access to records of past unproven allegations.
DCFS currently expunges and shreds files if the agency determines there is no credible evidence of abuse or neglect. Sheldon says patterns of mistreatment may only emerge by analyzing the information in those "unfounded" cases.
Diane Redleaf of the Family Defense Center said keeping records on unfounded cases could harm the innocent.