Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) remains under fire months after a 2-year-old boy was allegedly murdered by his mother’s boyfriend, despite being the agency claiming to be in constant contact with the family.
In March, a DCFS agent had reportedly visited Brittany Hyc’s home amid abuse and neglect allegations and determined that Ja’hir Gibbons and his 5-year-old brother were safe. Two days later, on March 18, authorities would find a neighbor performing CPR on the unresponsive toddler while Hyc, 28, stood near her other son, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Hyc is currently jailed on charges of child endangerment. Her boyfriend, Dejon Waters, 21, was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly confessing to abusing Gibbons on the day he died. Hyc is facing criminal charges as authorities determined she allowed Waters to watch her son despite him harming the child before.
An autopsy report revealed that the toddler died from blunt force trauma and stated that he had various new and old injuries, including liver lacerations, fractured ribs, a bruised lung, and a broken wrist.
Despite being on the radar of child protection officials, 2-year-old Ja’hir Gibbons suffered longstanding abuse that resulted in his death, prosecutors said. https://t.co/XMhYEFM2fe
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) March 21, 2019
The Chicago Tribune reported that the DCFS caseworker is under investigation. However, the news outlet asserted that there were multiple instances when the abuse was missed: when a DCFS investigator made contact, during doctor and therapy appointments, following calls to the abuse hotline, and during a hospital visit.
In late March—a month before the disappearance and murder of Illinois boy A.J. Freund—the Chicago Sun-Times published a letter penned by a retired registered nurse who urged Governor J.B. Pritzker to conduct a “complete overhaul” of DCFS.
READ More: Continuing coverage on A.J. Freund
The Tribune noted that Pritzker had recently brought in interim director, Debra Dyer-Webster, to replace then-director Beverly Walker. The governor has since assigned child welfare expert Marc Smith to the role—making him the 15th person to lead the agency since 2003.
While the Governor pledged to assign $75 million to hiring additional staff for the overburdened agency, the call for worthwhile reform is louder than ever following the two boys’ preventable murders.
“How many more kids have to die? What’s the threshold? At what point do the lives of Ja’hir and children like him begin to matter?”
[Featured Image: Brittany Hyc, Dejon Waters/Chicago Police Department; Ja’hir Gibbons/WGN-TV]