Illinois state Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry)
Illinois state Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) has thrown his support behind a bill that would create the McHenry County Children and Family Services Agency to assume the duties of the McHenry County office of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
“I support a little bit more local control,” Wilcox told the McHenry Times. “What this bill does is takes Woodstock’s office and puts it under local control. All the roles and authorities DCFS has in Woodstock would continue, they would just be under county authority.”
Filed by Illinois state Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), the bill comes in the wake of the tragic death of 5-year-old Woodstock boy AJ Freund, whose parents have been charged with murder in the case. Wilcox says the signs pointed to the need for a different level of oversight at virtually every turn.
Illinois state Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) | Photo courtesy of repstevenreick.com
“What we found is it’s very hard for the state’s attorney to assert much authority over DCFS case workers,” he said. “I’m not at all satisfied with the job the state has done in this area. I’m frustrated at a number of issues and see this bill as just a way to address some of those concerns.”
In the end, House Bill 4886, also known as “AJ’s Law," seeks to create a five-year pilot program in McHenry County to replace DCFS operations.
“Illinois must do a better job to protect vulnerable children such as AJ Freund,” Wilcox said in a post to Facebook. “His tragic death calls out for reform. I am supportive of changes to the DCFS structure and agree that greater local control over DCFS offices will increase cooperation between DCFS, the state's attorney, law enforcement and services provided to meet the goal of protecting our children.”