The National Center on Disability and Journalism announced that the ProPublica Illinois project “Stuck Kids” won third place in the 2018 Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.
Led by reporter Duaa Eldeib, “Stuck Kids” revealed that hundreds of children in state care are held each year in psychiatric hospitals for weeks or months at a time, even after they have been cleared to leave, because the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) cannot find them a more appropriate home. Between 2015 and 2017, 21 percent of the total time DCFS children and teens spent in psychiatric hospitals was not medically necessary. ProPublica Illinois data reporter Sandhya Kambhampati, web producer Vignesh Ramachandran and news applications developer David Eads also contributed to the project, which was published in partnership with The Atlantic.
In response to the story, state lawmakers called for a public hearing. And, in an extremely rare move, a federal judge is considering the appointment of an independent monitor to gather data and require DCFS to put into place a plan to address the problem.
The third-place honor comes with a $1,000 prize, to be presented at a fall ceremony in Washington. The full list of winners is available here.