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He Beat Her Repeatedly. Family Court Tried to Give Him Joint Custody of Their Children.

Wisconsin is considered a leader in the movement to treat fathers as equal caregivers when parents separate. Shared parenting is usually better for children — but the model fails for many women forced to co-parent with their abusers.

Reporting From the Midwest

Our team in the Midwest covers Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri. Based in Chicago, it grew out of our first regional publishing operation, which focused on people living and working in Illinois. Read more.

Illinois’ Child Welfare Agency Continues to Fail Spanish-Speaking Families

Two years after a ProPublica investigation, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services still is not complying with a federal court order to better serve Spanish-speaking families.

Grace

Michigan Supreme Court Limits Use of Restraints on Juveniles

A year after Grace’s story drew national attention when she was jailed for not doing her online schoolwork, outcry over the shackling of young people in court has resulted in a ban on the practice unless there’s a risk of physical harm or flight.

GOP Legislators in Missouri Oppose Vaccine Efforts as State Becomes COVID Hotspot

Representative Bill Kidd joked that he didn’t get a vaccine because he’s a Republican. Now he has COVID.

Local Reporting Network Partners

ProPublica is supporting local and regional newsrooms as they work on important investigative projects affecting their communities. Some of our past and present partners in the region:

Chicago Tribune
Chicago
The Southern Illinoisan
Carbondale, Illinois
WBEZ
Chicago
The Daily Herald
Arlington Heights, Illinois
The Business Journal
Youngstown, Ohio

Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP

The stolen election myth inspired thousands of Trump supporters to take over the Republican Party at the local level, exerting more partisan influence on how elections are run.

La agencia de bienestar infantil de Illinois les sigue fallando a las familias hispanohablantes

Dos años después de una investigación de ProPublica, el Departamento de Servicios para Niños y Familias de Illinois todavía no está cumpliendo con una orden de una corte federal para mejorar el servicio a las familias hispanohablantes.

Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut”

Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit. Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed.

A Postal Worker Begged for Stronger COVID-19 Protections. She Ended Up Spending Six Weeks in the Hospital.

The limited response to postal workers’ repeated appeals for help provides a window into the failures of two federal agencies: the Postal Service, which is one of the country’s largest employers, and OSHA, which is supposed to protect workers.

Cities in Ohio Want to Use the Same Clean-Energy Financing Company That Saddled Missouri Homeowners With Debt

An Ohio city had a low-interest loan program for energy-saving home improvements. Now, the officials who run it plan to turn it over to the same company behind Missouri's troubled program.

Held Back: Inside a Lost School Year

Teacher Ashlee Thompson had a lot to worry about this year: A deadly virus. A poor district under threat by the state. And now, a new mandate for her students: Learn to read or flunk the third grade.

After Grace’s Story, Michigan Will Study Its Juvenile Justice System

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed a task force to examine the state’s juvenile justice system and recommend reforms after a Black teen was jailed for not doing her online coursework.

Illinois Dramatically Limits Use of Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Schools

A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois.

Illinois Continued to Seclude and Restrain Students This Year Even Though Many Schools Were Closed

Even during the coronavirus pandemic with limited in-person learning, staff at Illinois schools secluded and restrained students more than 15,000 times during the 2020-21 school year, new data shows.

Missouri Lawmakers Approve Reforms to Controversial Clean-Energy Loan Program

Lawmakers approve consumer protections and oversight to PACE loans that have disproportionately burdened borrowers in Black neighborhoods.

Una crisis de cánceres sin diagnosticar está surgiendo en el segundo año de la pandemia

Una trabajadora de una fábrica no quiso pedir baja por enfermedad ni contagiarse de COVD-19, así que intentó ignorar el dolor. Ahora tiene cáncer en estado 4.

Clean-Energy Loans Trapped Black Homeowners in Debt. The Legislature Just Started Trying to Fix the Problem.

Lawmakers in Missouri are exploring ways to rein in the state’s clean-energy loan program, which ProPublica found disproportionately harms Black homeowners.

A Crisis of Undiagnosed Cancers Is Emerging in the Pandemic’s Second Year

A factory worker didn’t want to call in sick or catch COVID-19, so she tried to ignore the pain. Now she has stage 4 cancer.

The Child Care Industry Was Collapsing. Mrs. Jackie Bet Everything on an Impossible Dream to Save It.

Jackie Thomas was $29,134 in debt and in trouble with state regulators. She hadn’t slept in days. If a judge ruled against her, she’d fail the mothers who could only keep their jobs thanks to the 24-hour child care she offered.

State-Supported “Clean Energy” Loans Are Putting Borrowers At Risk of Losing Their Homes

Dozens of Missouri homeowners who used PACE loans to fix up their houses ended up trapped in debt and could soon see their homes sold at auction.

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