Sheldon Taking Charge In DCFS Cleanup



          Widely-read newsweekly “The Economist” this week featured Illinois appointee George Sheldon.  The former Florida child welfare agency head was picked by Governor Rauner to perform a massive cleanup of Illinois’ troubled, 2,000-employee Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) (http://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx).  The London-based newsmagazine published a feature on Rauner and Sheldon on Monday, February 23 (http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/02/social-services-illinois).

Illinois’ child-advocacy and child-oversight services came under severe scrutiny late in the last Springfield administration after an investigation by the “Chicago Tribune” uncovered criminal activity in and around Illinois residential treatment centers for juveniles.  The uncovered conduct included sexual assault and abuse (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/rtc/chi-dcfs-director-resigning-following-harsh-treatment-investigation-20150107-story.html#page=1).  Illinois’ fifty-odd residential treatment centers for juveniles are charged with the task of being a “safe space” for challenged children and young people, including wards of the state and juveniles referred to residential care by a court.  Problems abound, however.  Runaway activity is reported to be common, and psychotropic drugs have been prescribed for 10.8% of the young Illinois residents.

Similar problems in Florida were alleviated by Sheldon’s leadership, from 2008 to 2011, at the Florida Department of Children and Families (http://www.myflfamilies.com/).  Prior to entering public service, Sheldon was associate dean of the St. Thomas University School of Law, located in greater Miami.