The head of Illinois’ child welfare agency is defending the decision to leave a toddler in a Joliet Township house where she was later found dead.
George Sheldon answered questions about the incident Wednesday at a state Senate hearing in Springfield.
One-year-old Semaj Crosby was found dead, under a couch, last Thursday. Her mother had reported her missing a couple days earlier — and just before that, the family had been visited by a caseworker from Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services.
County investigators later declared the house uninhabitable, citing roaches, bedbugs and trash. But Sheldon says his agents don't take kids away from parents "because of a dirty house.”
“The child may be loved, and cared for, but they may be poor.”
Sheldon says he's seen records from the case ... and found nothing that would have justified removing the child.
"You know, I think if we walk into a lot of homes, they might be untidy. ... There is no greater exercise of police power by government than to take somebody's child away, so I think we've got to be very cautious about how we do that."
He told senators he's ordered a review of the case and is committed to "full transparency.”