Interview: DCFS Keeping Kids In Psychiatric Care Longer Than Necessary

Dec 21, 2018

Hundreds of kids and teenagers are suing the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. This comes after an investigation by ProPublica Illinois found children are being kept in psychiatric hospitals longer than medically necessary.

The lawsuit against the child welfare agency alleges the practice is inhumane and unconstitutional.

Duaa Eldeib -- a reporter with ProPublica Illinois -- investigated and broke the initial story. She said families want answers. “The lawsuit is hoping that the practice will end—that DCFS will stop keeping children in hospitals longer than medically necessary. And it's also seeking monetary damages for the children who have been affected by this.”

Eldeib said psychiatric hospitals are supposed to be short-term care facilities. Children usually need one or two weeks of treatment, but some are left there for months. Advocates claim kids end up suffering from these lengthy hospitalizations. 


“These children actually end up deteriorating while they're in there," Eldeib said. "So their behavior gets worse, in some cases, their mental health gets worse because they 're just waiting day after day to be released.”


DCFS has said finding foster homes is a challenge -- especially for kids with serious mental and behavioral conditions. 


Read the ProPublica Illinois investigative series "Stuck Kids" here