Chicago DCFS Failed to Protect Starving 23 lb,16-Yr Old Girl

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A 16-year old disabled girl was just 23 pounds and could not walk or talk when she was taken out of her mother’s house.  The girl had been allegedly starved by her mother, to the point of near death.

Darlene Armstrong was just 3’10” tall when she was taken to the hospital in Chicago in March.  What’s saddest is that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had been contacted about the starving child months earlier.  She would have been saved sooner had they followed their own protocols.

Darlene’s mother, Rosetta Harris, has pleaded guilty to endangering the life of a child.  She has been sentenced to 18 months probation and will be forced to go through parenting classes.  The mother told doctors that she fed her daughter grits, steamed rice, chicken and protein drinks throughout the day.  DCFS had received an anonymous call about the child, stating that she had not been to the doctor for years.

According to DCFS rules, they were supposed to respond to the call within 24 hours, which they did.  If they go to the house and don’t see the child, they are supposed to return every day until they do.  In this case, the investigator left notes at the child’s home and didn’t return for another six weeks.   The worker called 911 immediately when the mother brought the girl out of the house.

“An investigation this badly neglected is a failure of supervision and management,’ Kendall Marlowe, a DCFS spokesman said.

“We are taking appropriate actions to right that ship and ensure this organization places the proper priority on child safety.”


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