(The Center Square) – Illinois state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are looking at the reappointment of Department of Child and Family Services Director Marc Smith with scrutiny. 

In January, a 248-page report released by the Illinois Inspector General shows that in 2022, nearly 50 more children died while under the supervision of DCFS than in 2021.

Smith has received at least eight contempt of court orders after the agency failed to place youth in proper care in a timely manner. 

Pritzker said he will not change leadership within the department. Earlier this month, the governor reappointed Smith for another term at $200,000 a year. 

State Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, was asked about Pritzker's appointment, which still needs to be approved by the Senate within 60 session days of the appointment. 

"We will be taking that up as part of the executive appointments process, so I am not going to get ahead of that," Gillespie said. "We know there are issues within DCFS that need to be fixed. Nobody is denying that." 

Gillespie also introduced legislation that will give youth in any abuse or neglect case legal assistance. 

"We are proud to announce that we have filed legislation to provide youth in care in DCFS with legal representation," Gillespie said in early February. "Children in youth with lived experience in our child welfare system have overwhelmingly voiced their desire to be seen, heard, and represented." 

Republican lawmakers have been critical of the decision to reappoint Smith. 

State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Highland, said Smith needs to go. 

"It seems like in Illinois, we never learn from our mistakes. Children have been dying in their custody, and here we are going to go and keep the same gentleman running it," Meier told The Center Square. "We have to make changes. These kids' lives matter."

Pritzker proposes DCFS receive nearly $1.4 billion in state taxpayer funds for the coming fiscal year.


By Andrew Hensel | The Center Square