DCFS Had Investigated Chicago Family Nine Times Before Finding 12-Year-Old Died From Overdose
Almost six years ago, in May of 2017, The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began investigating the family of Joel Watts, after he and his siblings were said to be regularly have cuts, bruises, welts, abrasions, and oral injuries. According to CBS Chicago, all of the children had been born addicted to drugs.
In reports made by DCFS, his mother had allegations of medical and environmental neglect, while his father had allegations of sexual abuse. Years later, Joel’s mother completed a substance abuse program and claimed to be committed to staying sober in January of 2021.
On the ninth visit from DCFS, Joel Watt’s, now 12-years-old, was found dead, reportedly by a drug overdose. When his body was examined by a Cook County medical examiner, he had ethanol and fentanyl in his system. His death was marked as both an opioid-related death and an accident.
A DCFS report following the death of Joel Watt’s stated, “It is noted that the mother is pregnant, and the children were placed in a safety plan with a family member.” Though his ten siblings were later brought to placement services, neither Chicago’s Police Department nor Cook County State’s Attorney’s office provided any information on whether Joel’s parents have been arrested or charged.
With Joel Watts being the 10th child to die while on the DCFS radar, it’s clear that the system is continuing to fail the kids it was created to protect.