Illinois agency has 2 employees amid death probe

The combination of these undated photos provided by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department in Woodstock, Ill., on Thursday 25 April 2019 gives JoAnn Cunningham, left, and Andrew Freund Sr. The two are charged in the murder of their five-year-old son, Andrew “AJ” Freund. A criminal complaint filed Thursday, April 25, 2019, outlines in the first-degree murder, aggravated battery and several other charges against the couple. A court bail of $5 million for each parent. (McHenry County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

CHICAGO – Illinois’ child-welfare agency removed two employees of the social work Friday, while the officers in their interaction with a family whose 5-year-old son was found beaten to death and covered with plastic in a shallow grave.

The Ministry of Children and Family Services said it is “conducting a comprehensive review of our work” with the family of Andrew “AJ” Freund, whose parents reported him missing April 19, but have now been charged with the murder on his death.

“Both the caseworker and the supervisor who is responsible for this case have been placed on administrative duty and no casework responsibilities as this review takes place,” a statement from the agency said. “DCFS will also review all cases that are handled by these two employees.”

DCFS spokesman Jackets Strokosch refused to name the employees.

The development came as the agency of the new director, Marc D. Smith, prepared to testify on Friday afternoon for a House appropriations committee to examine budget requests from the various agencies. State

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat who heads the House of Adoption and child Welfare Committee, said Smith should expect difficult questions about the agency of the action, not only in AJ’s case, but the deaths in February of two other children under DCFS watch.

Gov. J. B. Pritzker focused research Chapin Hall center at the University of Chicago issue what Pritzker called “practical recommendations” in how the DCFS is Intact Family Services Unit. A report is expected next month.

The plaintiffs claim AJ’s parents, Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham, forced the boy to stand in a cold shower and slapped him in the house in the suburb of Chicago, Crystal Lake.

DCFS released a timeline of events detailing the agency’s interactions with the family dates back to 2012, including Cunningham’s role as a DCFS foster parent for AJ and a younger brother is born. It was the last contact came in December, with a bruise on the AJ assigned to the family dog. That case was closed in January.


O’connor reported from Springfield, Illinois.

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