Molly Parker

ProPublica Distinguished Fellow

How Illinois’ Hands-Off Approach to Homeschooling Leaves Children at Risk

At 9 years old, L.J. started missing school. His parents said they would homeschool him. It took two years — during which he was beaten and denied food — for anyone to notice he wasn’t learning.

In Crisis, She Went to an Illinois Facility. Two Years Later, She Still Isn’t Able to Leave.

The state of Illinois is asking for the end of court oversight of its system of care for people with developmental disabilities. But some advocates say it’s too soon.

Illinois Judge Closes Juvenile Detention Center After “Facility in Crisis” Fails to Meet New State Standards

The Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center abruptly closed on Dec. 31. The judge who ordered the closure said staffing shortages made it difficult to meet state standards for caring for youth in custody.

Inside Illinois’ Youth Lockups, Children Go Without Basic Services and Face “Excessive” Punishments

State audits point to troubling conditions in juvenile detention centers, but no agency has strong enough oversight to bring about change.

Choate Director Replaced as New Report Says Abuse at the Facility Hasn’t Stopped

A new report by an advocacy agency details how abuse and neglect at Choate have continued despite calls for and promises of reform. Now, the Illinois Department of Human Services has reversed its decision to keep Choate’s top leadership in place.

Illinois Leaves Three Administrators in Charge at Choate Despite Troubled History of Resident Care

A new state watchdog report calls for a “fundamental overhaul” at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center. But the state kept on administrators who were in charge during some of the facility’s most troubled years.

Problems With Abuse, Neglect and Cover-Ups at Choate Extend to Other Developmental Centers in Illinois

Prompted by an outcry over abuse, Illinois proposed moving residents from Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center to similar facilities in the state. New reporting shows the problems at Choate are common throughout the statewide system.

Health Care Workers Who Cover Up Patient Abuse Face Stiffer Penalties Under New Illinois Law

The legislation, spurred by a news investigation, allows workers to be barred from health care jobs for obstructing investigations into staff misconduct. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill on Friday.

Illinois to Relocate at Least Half of Residents in Facility Plagued by Abuse and Cover-Ups

Officials acknowledged that news reporting had put a spotlight on conditions at the center for people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. “Significant changes” are needed, the governor says.

Legislators Demand Hearings on Illinois Mental Health Facility Where Staff Abused Patients and Covered It Up

Repeated investigations of the center have revealed patients who were beaten and humiliated by staff, and staff who lied to cover up their actions.

New Report Says Nurses at Illinois Facility Forced Patients to Dig Through Their Own Feces

Newly obtained documents echo our reporting on abuse, cover-ups and a “sense of impunity” at an Illinois institution for people with mental illnesses and developmental disorders. The governor has said Choate must be reformed.

Watchdog Seeks Harsher Penalties in Wake of Abuse at Illinois Mental Health Center

The official cited investigations into a center for people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, where workers lied or conspired to thwart patient abuse inquiries.

Patients Went to This Isolated Facility for Treatment. Instead, Nearly Two Dozen Were Charged With Crimes.

For years, residents at the Illinois facility received scant treatment for their developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, then faced felonies for lashing out at staff.

“I Don’t Know Where I’m Going to Go”: HUD Displaces Even More Residents in This Small City

HUD already closed four public housing complexes in the Cairo, Ill., area. Now the federal agency is set to demolish a high-rise, gutting the city of some of its last affordable housing.

Report Finds “Code of Silence” at Mental Health Facility Where Staff Abused and Neglected Patients

A newly released report from an agency watchdog echoes reporting published earlier this year that revealed widespread collusion to cover up misconduct at the Illinois facility.

Chilling Audio Provides Rare Glimpse Into Abuse at Troubled Illinois Residential Facility

No one was charged when staff were caught on a 911 tape threatening violence against a Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center resident who has developmental disabilities. New reporting shows a culture of cover-ups at the facility.

Illinois Governor Calls for Changes After “Awful” Reports of Abuse at Developmental Center

Gov. J.B. Pritzker resisted, but did not rule out, a call to close Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois after we found widespread problems.

At a Remote Mental Health Facility, a Culture of Cruelty Persists Despite Decades of Warnings

Federal and state officials have urged reforms at the rural facility for people with mental and developmental disabilities. But the state-run center still has more allegations of abuse and neglect than any other in Illinois.

A Disabled Young Patient Was Sent to Get Treatment. He Was Abused Instead. And He Wasn’t the Last.

The 24-year-old with developmental disabilities was brutally beaten by his caretakers inside a state-run facility with a long history of patient abuse.

Lawmakers Demand Action on Child Welfare Failures

Calls for improved access to mental health and substance abuse treatment follow reporting by ProPublica and The Southern Illinoisan on the large number of parents investigated repeatedly by Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services.

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