05242018CM0198A lawsuit against the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) regarding the continuing problem of children being held in psychiatric hospitals longer than medically necessary was filed recently by the Cook County Public Guardian.

Senate Human Services Chair Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) has been working with advocates on solutions to the issue for months.

“It is shameful that is has taken legal action on behalf of abused or neglected children for the state to do what is both morally and legally right,” Morrison said. “No child should languish in a psychiatric hospital for longer than necessary. These children are vulnerable and the state needs to step up and start taking their care seriously.”

After a ProPublica Illinois report was released this summer highlighting the problem, Morrison convened a hearing in Chicago to seek solutions to the issue. The hearing highlighted the lack of adequate placements for children when leaving hospitals and the lack of front-end community resources to support children suffering from mental illness.

Morrison first brought attention to the issue in 2015, when she filed Senate Resolution 140 seeking an audit to determine just how pervasive the issue of longer than necessary psychiatric stays. At the time, the DCFS did not track and could not provide information requested in Morrison’s resolution.

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