Cook County Guardian Speaks Out After He Said He Was Being Silenced By DCFS

The Cook County Public Guardian is a watchdog over the Department of Children and Family Services. But he tells CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov that DCFS is trying to silence him and his office.

Video Transcript

- His job is to fight for the kids who can't fight for themselves. The Cook County Public Guardian is a watchdog over the Department of Children and Family Services. But now, he tells CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov that DCFS is trying to silence him and his office.

CHARLES GOLBERT: If the commission is made up of yes-people--

DANA KOZLOV: Cook County Public Guardian, Charles Golbert, is speaking out again. This time, after DCFS's acting Director, Marc Smith, sent this letter to Guardian office attorney Brian Finley, informing him his application to serve another term on the Child Welfare Advisor Commitee, or CWAC, was being denied.

CHARLES GOLBERT: It's just outrageous. And I also see this as part of a very disturbing pattern of DCFS to try to silence dissenting voices.

DANA KOZLOV: Goldbert says CWAC not only advises DCFS, but makes important recommendations on contracts and policies. He says his office has always had an employee on that committee until now.

CHARLES GOLBERT: Now the composition of the Council is essentially all agencies that have contracts with DCFS. That really limits their ability to disagree with DCFS.

DANA KOZLOV: Goldbert then fired off this letter to Smith, stating without dissenting voices and viewpoints, there's no hope that DCFS's systemic dysfunction can improve. Dysfunction CBS 2 has highlighted for years.

Last October, Golbert went to court to fight for the right of a 17-year-old in DCFS's care to talk to me about being locked in a psychiatric hospital months longer than needed after DCFS first blocked it.

- Forgotten. They're just being locked up in these hospitals as if they were shelters. Or prisons.

DANA KOZLOV: He spoke out this month about why a 10-year-old girl who had repeatedly been sexually assaulted was returned to her home. And Finley voiced concerns to us in August about how a DCFS change in insurance coverage could harm kids in foster care.

- Two, they've never heard of youth care--

DANA KOZLOV: A CWAC co-chair and DCFS spokesperson says the goal was to make the committee more diverse, which they did, adding DCFS asked Goldbert for a diverse recommendation to fill Finley's spot.

And you failed to do so.

CHARLES GOLBERT: No, that's incorrect.

DANA KOZLOV: Goldbert says that recommendation request didn't come until after Brian Finley received his rejection letter. He adds his office represents about half of all of the kids in DCFS's care. CWAC co-chairman, Beverly Jones, says they did not try to attempt to silence the Public Guardian's office, adding that somebody from the office can attend future meetings. Just not in an official capacity. In the loop, Dana Kozlov, CBS 2 News.