After 3 kids die despite DCFS involvement, it urges faster probes

Thursday, 11 May 2017, 05:22:32 PM. Tribune look at 3 Cook County child deaths since Nov. 2015 finds incomplete inquiries, no follow-ups; DCFS closed probes just before fatal abuse or neglect.
They found him wrapped in a Superman T-shirt, his burned body so tiny that first responders thought he was 9 months old. Authorities would later discover that 4-year-old Manuel Aguilar spent the last months of his life in the unheated storage room of a Southwest Side two-flat, naked and scared, pounding on the door to beg for food and water. He was forced to sleep on the bare floor or in a kitty litter box, his siblings told police. Beaten and starved, he died alone with open eyes. Then his mother, Alyssa Garcia, her teenage boyfriend and the boyfriend's relative stuffed Manny's 27-pound corpse in a bag of towels and clothes and lit the bundle on fire in the basement of an abandoned house in August 2016, Cook County prosecutors allege. This wrenching drama of child abuse played out as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services opened — and in some cases quickly closed — multiple investigations into outcries that Manny and his siblings were beaten and living in dangerous squalor. Manny's DCFS files are riddled with shortcuts and failures, a Tribune investigation has found. DCFS did not interview or even acknowledge the presence in the home of Garcia's violent, gang-involved boyfriend. When Garcia promised to take Manny to the doctor, DCFS did not follow up to learn that she didn't. In the years before Manny's homicide, his siblings told an agency caseworker about Garcia's violent abuse, but DCFS did not investigate their allegations. The lapses in Manny's cases...Read more
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