DCFS fires contractor who shackled child despite ban on restraints

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has fired a contractor who shackled a child during transport despite a DCFS ban on the practice since late last year.

A child under DCFS care was “unacceptably restrained with hard ankle restraints” Monday during a transport to an out-of-state facility, DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said in an emailed statement.

“The use of hard restraints on any child is completely unacceptable and violates the Department’s ban on ever using hard restraints. No one in our care should ever be mistreated like this,” Strokosch said.

He said DCFS will be terminating its contract with the transport company, and has notified its Office of the Inspector General.

Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said in a statement the incident is “disheartening” to happen so soon after DCFS entered a federal court agreement prohibiting the shackling of children.

“It’s also discouraging that DCFS is so dysfunctional and unconcerned about social work norms and the civil rights of children that it even needs such a policy and federal court agreement in the first place,” Golbert said.

DCFS banned the use of shackles in November 2019 after two teenage boys were handcuffed and shackled at their ankles as they were separately driven to a shelter in suburban Palatine.

After that incident, DCFS said the use of restraints in the case “was totally unacceptable and against department policy” and banned the use of hard restraints.

Soft restraints, however, would be permitted if they were court ordered or ordered by a psychiatrist, DCFS has said.