Of late, the DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) in Chicago has been under fire for not properly enforcing child protection law. For example, children have died despite the fact that the department had already instituted proceedings. Many argue that the law was there to protect the victims, but its enforcement fell way below the standards that were originally envisaged by the legislature when they wrote the law. The case of Manuel Aguilar is harrowing. The 4-year-old was found burned and badly damaged in an abandoned home. The body was so malnourished and wasted that the first responders at first wrongly assumed that he was no older than a year. The lawyers started to unpack the true horror of the story during the proceedings.
The subsequent investigation showed that the victim had spent the best part of a year in an unheated room begging for food and water. He was beaten, starved, and forced to sleep in a cat litter box. His biological mother, Alyssa Garcia, and her teenage boyfriend stuffed the dead body in a bag and set it on fire in an abandoned house. Previously, the DCFS had opened and closed a number of cases relating to the family following complaints of persistent child abuse. An investigation found clerical errors in files and failures to follow up on complaints as well as muddled witness accounts.
Third Parties Who Were Never Interviewed as Part of Child Protection Proceedings