DCFS: Kids commonly found living in squalor, help available

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nine children were taken from a Chicago home on Sunday after they were found living with no food or heat. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said these incidents are all too common but there is help for struggling families.

Behind a window of the top unit of the Englewood two flat, a woman closed a curtain and refused to come to the door.

It was two days after police took nine children into protective custody at a home where police said they were living in squalor and without heat or food.

"They have other places out here like food pantries you can go to to feed your kids and things like that. There's no reason your kids should go hungry," Latoya, a neighbor, said.

The children ranged in age from a toddler to early teens and belonged to two different mothers.

Police also contacted the DCFS. Deputy Director Debra Dyer-Webster is guardian to about 15,000 kids in the state. And while she cannot talk about the specifics of this case she said there are dozens of similar cases reported to the DCFS every month.

She said the situations could be easily avoided. She said help for the families is readily available.

"Most people think we just want to take the children but what the department wants to do is help keep the family together," Dyer-Webster said.

The building's landlord said the families living in the home were squatters. They were living there illegally. They had no gas service and allegedly rewired outside to steal electricity.

David Coleman said he was unaware children were living there.

"Every time I would come, nobody would answer the door. I called the police several times," he said.

"I wish I would have known. Maybe we could have come together and helped the family," Nick Brown, a neighbor, said.

Chicago police said they have filed no charges against the parents in this case.

But the investigation by area south detectives continues.
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