- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A new report commissioned by state child welfare officials shows systemic breakdowns and deficiencies that threaten the safety of children at a north suburban residential facility where a teen died this year.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services hired researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago to review the Allendale Association after 16-year-old Shaquan Allen died at the agency’s Lake Villa campus in March, the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/2ak4hwK ) reported.

One employee has been charged in Allen’s death for placing him in a chokehold, and another has been charged for trying to mislead authorities about the incident.

The 24-page report released last week cites several strengths of the facility, but also highlights concerns about staffing, restraints and oversight.

“If you’re using overtime as an extensive way of doing business, are you putting youth at risk by having employees who are stressed out, tired?” said George Sheldon, DCFS director.

Allendale officials defended their overtime policies in the report and said they complied with laws and regulations.

“We cooperated fully with the UIC team and are reviewing the report,” said Mary Shahbazian, Allendale President, in an emailed response this week. “Allendale’s mission has always been to serve this special community of youth and we will continue to do so.”

The report highlighted findings from a 2014 investigation in the state’s residential treatment centers by the newspaper as well as its investigative report in May concerning Allen’s death.

The newspaper had obtained records showing that Allen was in Allendale’s care for about a year and a half longer than the year he was supposed to stay.

“Youth who have completed their treatment and, consequently anticipate a timely discharge. . are commonly demoralized, frustrated and angry as they wait, often for several months, for a place to live outside of the residential program,” the report said.

Department officials have said they’re working to address the issue of juvenile state wards staying at residential centers after their discharge dates.


Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com

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