COOK COUNTY, Ill. - A judge held DCFS Director Marc Smith in contempt of court Thursday on two unrelated cases for his repeated failures over months to comply with court orders to place children appropriately, officials said.
The court ordered fines of $1,000 per day until Smith complies with the orders.
"In the more than 30 years that I’ve been practicing in Juvenile Court, I cannot recall a single time when a judge has held the DCFS director – or any high level DCFS official – in contempt of court. Nor can I recall a single time when a judge in Juvenile Court has ordered fines in this manner. It’s unprecedented. But DCFS’s placement shortage crisis and current level of dysfunction is unprecedented; and it continues to get worse," said Public Guardian Charles Golbert.
The first case involves a 9-year-old girl who has been locked up in a psychiatric hospital for over seven months.
Over the seven months, the court entered multiple orders for DCFS to place the girl, which authorities said DCFS ignored.
As an infant, the girl was malnourished, her mother threw her across a room when she was four-months old, was sexually penetrated by her brother when she was five-years-old and her mother forced her to perform sex acts with adults, including having an adult defecate on her face, authorities said.
The second case involves a 13-year-old boy who has been at a temporary shelter in Mt. Vernon for nearly five months, authorities said.
Before the shelter, Cook County officials say the boy was placed in a utility room.
Over the last year, more than 350 children in DCFS care were moved to psychiatric hospitals because DCFS didn't have anywhere else to put them.