Reports detail DCFS investigations into family of 12-year-old boy who died of drug overdose

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was called nine times to investigate at the South Side home of a family with 10 kids.

The agency investigated allegations of violence, sexual abuse – and finally, the death of a child this past August.

CBS 2’s Chris Tye has uncovered new details of what happened that summer morning when Joel Watts never woke up – as questions linger over how the family kept the kids for so long.

Joel died on drugs, and he had a sister born on drugs. He is the 10th child on DCFS radar to have died in the last 11 months.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, CBS 2 obtained new details of what happened in the family home on the morning of Aug. 19.

Joel, his brother, and his mom were watching YouTube videos until 6 a.m. at their Roseland home. Joel then went upstairs to his bedroom that summer Friday – it was the last time anyone would see him alive.

At 11:52 a.m., Joel’s mom found him unresponsive.

At 1:46 p.m., Chicago Police arrived. Police wrote Joel was found "lying on his bed with drug paraphernalia near his left hand. A piece of tin foil was also present in the room on the floor near his remains… white colored foam coming from his mouth…"

A report from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office showed ethanol and fentanyl were in Joel’s system. His death was declared opioid-related, and the manner was deemed accidental.

But a report by the DCFS says: "mother named the alleged perpetrator" and references "allegations of death by neglect." The report adds, "It is noted the mother is pregnant."

Four years prior, DCFS noted Joel’s mom had a newborn child in the hospital – "and was substance abused by the mother…"

In another case four months prior to that, DCFS said "the father… was named as the alleged perpetrator" and referenced "substantial risk of sexual abuse" toward another child.

A month before that DCFS said, "Joel, age 7… sustained a fracture that required surgery… the mother was named as the alleged perpetrator."

There were nine visits to the house over six and a half years – warning signs to a welfare system that never removed the kids from the care of parents – that is, until Joel’s death this past August.

The other kids are now living with relatives under a DCFS safety plan. Their parents have not been arrested or charged as of our last check with Chicago Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.

The failures of DCFS have become a political issue. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is standing by his DCFS director, Marc Smith, despite Smith having been held in contempt of court a dozen times.

News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago

via Local News – CBS Chicago

October 24, 2022 at 10:43PM

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