Audit: Systematic failures in Illinois Department of Human Services’ group home oversight

Chicago skyline

CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois state audit has found systemic failures in the Department of Human Services licensing and oversight of thousands of taxpayer-funded group homes for adults with disabilities.

The nearly 230-page report released Thursday by Auditor General Frank Mautino’s office found communication failures within the state DHS, the Chicago Tribune reported .

Auditors said officials who license group homes “routinely” didn’t receive findings and reports from those who investigate abuse.

The audit found failures in documenting whether deficiencies were corrected. It also questioned whether the state did enough in recent years to ensure the safe transition of more than 400 adults from larger centers to small homes. Auditors said Illinois used “questionable procurement strategies” when it awarded multi-million-dollar contracts to the company managing that transition.

The Human Services Department argued that the audit is largely based on dated information that doesn’t include changes underway.

The report is based on the state’s oversight of more than 3,000 group homes that serve about 10,000 adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It covers a four-year period that ended June 30, 2016.

The report was conducted after state lawmakers approved a resolution introduced by Republican Rep. Charlie Meier. He said he plans to push for statewide legislative hearings this year “to improve the way our state cares for the developmentally disabled.”

“This audit reaffirms that more work must be done to improve the quality of care our most vulnerable population should expect to receive,” Meier said. “Not all group homes are bad, but there is no excuse for these mistakes to happen again.”

The issues were first exposed in a 2016 Tribune investigation that documented substandard conditions. The newspaper also found that the state oversight remained inconsistent in a follow-up investigation this year .