Illinois DCFS sued over care of mentally ill foster children

CHICAGO (AP) - A county public guardian in Illinois is suing the state's Department of Children and Family Services over what it contends is the "immense harm" the agency is doing to mentally ill foster children that are kept in psychiatric hospitals beyond their medical discharge dates.

The federal lawsuit that was filed by Cook County's public guardian after reports by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois about the issue contends that repeated budget cuts for appropriate treatment facilities and foster care worsens the conditions of the children's lives and that keeping them so long at the psychiatric hospitals is "inhumane" and costs taxpayers more than $125,000 a month.

DCFS spokesman Neil Skene tells the Tribune that he hadn't seen the lawsuit and wouldn't comment. But he says that finding placements for youths with severe behavioral and mental health needs a "very complex challenge."