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

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.”


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

  1. This really angers me because I stayed in a friends empty apt once for the night (she owned the whole building)to wait for the cable guy the next morning and because my 3 year old was with me, someone called Dept of Child Services. They came and took a report why we were there, came to my real house to see where she slept, went to her fathers house to see where she slept and that there was adequate food in the house. Really? Now, in this kind of case, they drop the ball in such a horrific manner, it cost a young girl her life in addition to the madness of her mother. Probation? This is murder, what the heck are they talking about? I want to see her do real time for the way she did that innocent baby. If not here, God will deal with her.

    • I would rather you rather you take the baby with you. You did the right thing.

    • Yes DFACS obviously dropped the ball as they often do; and yes mom is at fault here and deserves more than 18 months probation, but the girl is alive so it is not murder.

      • Byron, the baby girl is not alive sir. She actually died. Read the report again, but the very beginning and you will see where they said “Had Child Protective Services did what they were supposed to, they might have been able to save the girls life.” Byron Lee, the girl is dead, and that’s why its murder.

        • The little girl isn’t dead. They said she could have been saved earlier if dfacs have followed protocol They did say she was near death It isn’t murder but should of been attempt murder. Who knows how much longer she would last smh its a all around sad situation and no child in the USA should ever starve considering there’s a bunch of programs to help!!

    • In response to your comment that it’s murder, the child did not die. Even still, it does seem as though 18 months probation is pretty light. However, maybe this will be an opportunity for the mother can get help for whatever obvious mental issues are going on with her. Hopefully the girl will not be placed back in the care of the mom.


        The mother is waaaay beyond the need for parenting classes. She has serious psychological problems. She should be given a full psychological work-up and given on-going psychological help, and evaluated for her ability to care for her daughter in the future – in addition to the parenting classes, which should be the smallest part of this picture!

        Furthermore, if/when the mother is deemed fit to parent, the daughter should be in some sort of program where her health and care are being monitored daily, to ensure there is no further abuse occurring in the home, in addition to the home being visited at least weekly to ensure a safe physical and psychological environment for the child.

        This girl has been through enough abuse, and serious psychological problems on the part of a parent don’t go away overnight, and certainly don’t go away simply by being on probation/in the criminal justice system.

        • Plantwalk is spot on with her/his assessment of this situation. The mother in this case does need a full psychological evaluation. I would not return this poor child back to her mother. 18 months probation is a joke. We are living in a society that has forgotten it moral and legal obligations to the most innocent groups in our society; children and the elderly.

          This story sickens me. No one in the USA should have to go through this level of abuse.

  2. Wow..that’s all I can say

  3. The further outrage to this story is that this mother only received 18 months for what should have amounted to attempted murder!

    • Well when it comes black on black crime then it’s ok thing,but when it’s a crime on the other man then it’s world news!!!I think if we as colord people don’t wake up and come together then we will be like the dinosaurous yall know what happen to them.

  4. Oh lord. I really have to go to Grad School (LMSW) so I can go make the lives of children better.

    • That’s exactly what you need to do, Ms. Scott. Now, you already knew that, but I understand, life has a way of getting in the way. This is how God really speaks to us. We hear or see things that remind us of our calling. But, when we take too long acting or moving in the right direction, He just slaps us in the face with it. So, no more excuses or procrastinations. We need you. Without our children, we have no future.

    • Pease do, good luck and god speed.

      • I agree good luck and may God bless you. We need you now more than ever. I work for social services in California, but my true dream is to be a teacher. I’m now even more inspired to reach my goals. Thank you N. Scott!

        • You all are very welcome. I am just enrolled for Fall Semester and already people are on me about going back home to Detroit, Michigan. I would have to think about going to Detroit, sense it has become supremely dangerous to go home. I am looking at DC

          • I meant to say that I just registered and will start Grad School this Fall 2012 Semester.

    • This is what I was talking about yesterday. Parents who are just suspected of abuse are treated as guilty child abusers while the real abusers go free. This is as I also mentioned yesterday, the way the courts systematically oppress people of color by punishing the innocent and upstanding and letting the murderers of the innocent go free or be hardly sentenced to time at all.

      This case clearly illustrates this. Parenting classes?? What sane or well-meaning person could feel that someone who watched someone literally nearly starve to death needs classes??

      • A strong element of the oppression is to do it in our faces, to coldly shove the heineous injustice in our face. Those that are involved with this “system” know exactly how angry, outraged, and hurt we are, and they know exactly how horrific theirs crimes are.
        That’s why God is sending people like that to h**l. This child will eventually get some comfort, whether it is on earth or in heaven. But these evil people will suffer forever with no comfort, no mercy.

  5. They should turn Child Protective services over to a private company so it can do a decent job. Anything run by the government,especially in socialist Chicago, is a disaster.

    • American slavery was a private venture. Do you want some more of that?

    • Private companies doing public work do not do better, their performance is actually worse and they cost taxpayers more money than state agencies.

  6. I have tried to report child neglect and they would not take the report, they told me to call the Police. Where I live at this time, I could report 3 families for neglect and abuse of their children; I fail to do it because of the problem I had before trying to report a family who left children alone in a apt. that was a 1 bedroom Senior apt., I also told Management, they did nothing. Two families where I live now have drugs in their apts., with their children; one guy is driving his baby in a car while he smells of marijuana. One woman is leaving her baby alone while she is outside and she looks homeless. One family has 4 people; 2 adults, 2 children and a dog bigger than the children in a 2 room apt. This is neglect and abuse of children.

    • I’m sorry, but how is 2 adults, 2 children, and a dog in a two room apartment neglect and abuse? Come on now, maybe they aren’t taking your calls because you’re taking attention away from the real abuse. Having a small apartment in this economic period is not a crime nor is it abuse, give me a break, do you realize how most people live in this country and outside this country?

      • You took the words right out of my mouth. Well said!!


    • Please keep trying to report the families you mentioned. The children are helpless and they need someone to care enough to intervene.

    • If it’s really abuse, and not simply based on your opinion of how people should live, you should continue to report it. You can call or write anonymously! You owe it to those children to do the right thing. There are too many cases of real child abuse occurring for any of us to waste the agencies’ time and taxpayers’ money!

  7. 18 mos. probation, this ruling is just as insane as the mom. Give her 18 years.

  8. Black children are not valued by society at large. It shows in the sentencing and the total disregard of this disabled teen.

    • So true but its up to us to make them known.. We all as black ppl need to stand up for our own.

    • we don’t value our own so how can you expect others to?

      • So again, we need to stand up for our children, speak up, write to congress and to govenors of that state and any state that mishandles and accepts neglect of our children. 18 months probation, what a slap in the face to us and to real mothers who care

    • I have to say Amen on that. Children of color are not regarded the same as European children and that’s just the way it is. Anyone who argues against it, just doesn’t know the facts and hasn’t been keeping up. The sentencing should have been much, much stiffer. This ridiculous probation is just a slap on the wrist. Bad mom, bad mom.
      Tough sentences for people who bring harm to children is critical.
      Maybe the relatives live in another town, or the mother refused to allow anyone in. What about the social worker? So many social workers turn their heads the other way when children like this can be saved sooner.
      Any child, regardless of color, physical or mental health, deserves a fair chance in life.

  9. With all the austerity and cutting of public employees, the caseloads are huge and will only get worse. There is no excuse, but this and other sort of things that rely on gov’t services will get worse. This was probably one of hundreds on the workers caseload. Until some agencies are successfully sued everything will be a race to the bottom or some privatised hybrid with no oversight or accountability.

  10. This story is unbelievable to me. The picture of this young girl is horrific and why is the mother only given 18 months probation? There is something terribly wrong with this picture and useless Child Protective Service.

  11. My 2yr old weighs more than her…..this is truly sad!! God help us all.

  12. This looks like a living sheleton & her mother gets 18mos of probation; yet, we are missing the most important thing: she is being sent to parenting classes. Parenting classes for what? She shouldn’t be allowed to be a parent!!! Why is good tax money be wasted on this monster! You gonna tell me she didn’t notice this child not absorbing the food she claims she was feeding her? What is wrong with this country and how can I get custody of this child B4 it is too late?!

  13. Child Protective Service is a d**n joke. My family is going through something with my grandson. Twice is mother has beat the c**p out of him, and bruised his body all over. Twice she’s been taken to court for this, and twice protective service has returned my grandson back to his crazy mother. My son who is his father wasn’t allowed to say anything in court, and nor was the rest of us.
    A better program for these kids need to be developed, because Child Protective Services care less than a d**n about these kids. I know this to be true in Detroit,Michigan.

    • Unfortunately, you are definitely right because I am from Detroit, Michigan and the same things happened to me as a child. Now I am in Atlanta preparing to study for my LMSW so I can do better than those who just want the taxpayers money, but not do anything about the abuse of children.

  14. Heartbreaking!!! There are soo many challenges yet we can’t ignore is that soo many solutions exist . Our communities Mega churches with all their wealth,resources and circles of influence. Our fraternities, sororities, organizations, businesses, sports & entertainment personalities. Each one of us in each & every community must step up our recognition, response & become more solution oriented. Let’s glorify SAVING LIVES!!! LET’S BRAG ABOUT HOW MANY CHILDREN WE’RE MENTORING!!! OR HOW MANY HOURS WE’RE VOLUNTEERING EACH WEEK PUT THAT ON FACEBOOK, ENCOURAGE FRIENDS TO “LIKE” THAT!!!


  16. That is the saddest and one of the most extreme cases I have seen and to involve a child who has been around for 16 years to have gone thru that night mare. Mom should be sentenced to 32 years in prison.. 2 years for each year that dear child suffered and 16 lashes each month she is prison. Survive little lady God has you in his embrace

  17. Where are the relatives to this girl? Did no one know? It is amazing that this 16 year old girl is still alive. This photo of her is like those I’ve seen of children starving in foreign countries.

  18. Her mother should not get that baby back in her life she should had got 16 years behind the walls what she did. That baby is 16 years old most of her childs life is over the system needs to come up with moneies for she going to need it. Her mother don’t need to be in her live until the nexts 16 years time for that baby to heal able to say if she want to or not she going to need years of healin her spirit!!

  19. b***h needs her a*s beat and jailed in solitary for life.


  21. Lord have mercy, I though my sister was dead. She is the only woman I know that would treat her children this way. Well there goes the fantasy about motherhood. Some people are just evil as h**l. This isjust too evil to speak about. And they gave her only probation?. She should be charged with attempted murder.

  22. Everyone here is passing judgement when only slight details of the story have been provided. You know there has to be more to this story than the mother just starving the child. Which would explain why her sentence is so light. I don’t think it’s because the justice system devalues black children. I just think there is more to this story than the article revealed and yes, I would like to know the rest of the story.

    • Jackie, I agree. We comment on these stories but we forget that we don’t have all the information. I don’t think this very sad situation is because this family is black.

    • Jackie I understand your point about not having the rest of the story, but this does have something to do with race in a roundabout way. Lower income black families usually have no medical coverage and are not aware of the programs available to get free care. Medical staff are more likely to offer extended personal help to their own (no matter what the race). Medicare or the government equivalent does not cover alot of the needed care a child like this requires, just the basics. The mother was probably told to take her home, probably received a 1 hour class on how to care for a child with disabilities (they didn’t state what type, could she feed herself, did she understand how to chew,etc). An insured child would have had access to hospice care and other programs. My guess is that the child digressed from the state her doctor sent her home in to a state where she should have been cared for by medical personnel. After being dismissed and told to take her home the mother may have just adapted to her daughters deteriorating health changes the best way she could. It happens allot with older people who are cared for at home. The fact that she hadn’t been to the doctor in years tells me that her attending physician and staff could care less and were not following up with her care. Did this child deserve this fate, ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Have I walked in her mothers shoes ABSOLUTELY NOT!


  24. I just dont understand it.18 months probation.They should have given the person at DCHS 18 months.


    If the mother has mental issues, 18 months will not correct her behavior. She doesn’t deserve to have the child back.

  26. Jill Faucher-Ross

    they’re going to make this woman, the mother, GO TO PARENTING CLASSES. FOR WHAT????? TO LEARN HOW NOT TO STARVE A CHILD?????IDIOT!!!’

  27. It seems that they viewed the mother as ignorant and felt like an education would enlighten her.

  28. dawn.p.gonsalves

    Parents have to value their children so the children will know their value.been poor is not abuse looking homeless is not abuse those people might be more loving that people that can afford.everybody is responsible for themselves drop the c**p

  29. octavia jackson

    dcfs never does they job , they need to fire and rehire, cause they don’t care unless its they family, then its hush hush, fire all they a***s

  30. You find this in every state, don’t just single out Chicago. This makes me sick, people who want jobs to help people like this darling young lady, can’t get a job. Child Protective Services, they hire their friends and family, and as you can see this is the very outcome you get, it’s about getting a paycheck and nothing else matters.

    It is going to take God to help us all.

  31. Valuable info. Lucky me I discovered your website accidentally, and I am surprised why this coincidence did not came about earlier! I bookmarked it.


    I live in Philadelphia and recently our department of Human (child) services came under fire because a child died due to neglect; all involved or lack of involvment I should say surrounding this childs death, everyone involved was FIRED city officials in Chicago should do the same thing FIRE all involved. This is such a sin the lost of an innocent child.

  33. Unbelievable is all I can muster to say! Fire whoever had their hands on this case! And please do not give that child back to her Mother. She (the Mother) should give some sort of professional help but please don’t give her back her daughter. I really did think this was the wrong photo for this story, I thought I was seeing a picture from a third world country.

  34. I am so d**n angry. DCFS heads should roll, and the mother getting 18 months Probation?, Parenting classes?. Her a*s should be in JAIL, with the DCFS employess that dropped the Ball, and as far as Parenting, she should not be allowed NEAR any Child. She will get hers when her time comes . God help us, this c**p is ocurring entirely too much these days. It’s like this world is going to h**l, with gasoline drawers on.

  35. People like this woman, is lucky that I’m not a cop, because I would have blown her d**n head off. Even though this child, did not die, this animal, who calls herself a mother should received the death penalty. Also, the DCFS employees, that dropped the ball in this case, should also be jailed, and fired. Nobody, gives a d**n about people, who themselves consider their own selves n*****s. That’s why they only sentenced her to 18 months probation, and are giving her parenting classes, so she can continue the assault on this child, when she gets her back, and so she can breed more n*****s. I hate this word, but I used it just to point out that if this is what you call, and consider yourselves as, so will the rest of society. It’s time that we get rid of the filthy rappers, and gang members, and their mentality, or we will destroy ourselves.

  36. Naomi Braswell

    This article is quite disturbing. The child protection services did not do their job properly. Their priorities are out of place. There were obvious signs that something was wrong in this situation: (1) The child never went to the physician; why wasn’t that questioned? (2) The child did not attend any kind of special education school. Why wasn’t this questioned? It is evident the so-called mother was hiding her daughter. She claimed to have fed her daughter which is obviously a fabrication. This woman should be in jail not receiving a mere 18 months probation & parenting classes. Does anyone honestly believe she will learn from this? The law is not working in his case, I believe the sentence of 18 months probation was just so the Judge could say his/her job was done and next case. Unbelievable, just sad….

  37. 18 months probation??? Oh ye
    s this is a black on black crime, isn’t it!

  38. winifred wrice

    I have a three year old on granddaughter. Her mother is one that shouldn’t never had a child. Drinks, smoke, bad mouth(curse), men after men over her daughter. Do she care, NO!! Did DCFS do anything about it, NO!! Child was eaten up by bed mitten. Child found mother’s drugs,playing with it in her mouth. Unexplained breaking shoulder. Child not in daycare for month and half. DCFS said everything ok. DCFS call mother before they come, give mother time to get everything in order. DCFS is not what it suppose to be. Father child support check is going where? I’m afraid that my granddaughter maybe heading down the same road.

    Stress grandmother

  39. very sad put her a*s under the jail think God she’s ok now and will get better..

  40. Pingback: Opinion: Alarm Bells Ringing Once Again for DCFS

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