Sixteen-year-old Darlene Armstrong weighed 23 lbs when she was brought into the emergency room, reports the Daily Mail. The image of her, curled into the fetal position, is nauseating.
The image was leaked by an unknown source in law enforcement, right around the time the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was being investigated for their reported failures in the case.
- On November 17, DCFS received a call about the girl's condition, alleging starvation and lack of medical care. DCFS is required to investigate such calls within 24 hours.
- On November 18, an investigator stopped by, but was told that the mother and daughter were not home. She left her contact information. According to protocol, she was supposed to return every day until she got access to the child.
- On January 3, she returned. No one answered. She left a note.
- On February 27, she left another note.
- On March 14, she finally got into the home. Rosetta Harris, the mother, said that Darlene was not there, but the social worker heard whimpering. She discovered the daughter and called 911.
That's four months of extra abuse and starvation that possibly could have been prevented.
That wasn't the only violation of protocol. The social worker also failed to look up the family's history. Darlene and her siblings were removed for three years, starting in 1996, because her mother had not Darlene properly. Darlene was also removed from special education classes in 2000, as her mother wanted to keep her at home.
Though this is only one incident, which may have been caused by an overburdened system, the likelihood of it happening again may soon increase.
The Chicago Tribune reports that further budget cuts may greatly impact DCFS's ability to do its job. The cuts should reduce the staff of 2,900 by 375. The DCFS director is planning on reducing any redundant administration and managing "by triage."
A lack of supervision was partially to blame for Darlene Armstrong's extra four months of torture. Her mother, by the way, will only serve 18 months of probation for her conduct, reports the Daily Mail.
- Find a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Illinois Child Abuse Laws (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- DCFS took 4 months to find 23-pound teen girl (Chicago Tribune)
- Dossey Baby: Rickets, Or Child Abuse? (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- Mother Accused of Brutally Beating Baby in 'Bout of Frustration' (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)