Attorney: Child Services Investigators on AJ Freund Case Were Overloaded with Work Last Year

Child protective investigators responsible for looking after now-slain 5-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund Jr. allegedly had too many cases to handle. Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union revealed this detail in a federal court on Wednesday, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The hearing technically had nothing to do with the Freund case, per se. The ACLU looks over a court-ordered federal consent decree that determines case limits for DCFS investigators–that’s what the hearing was about. Attorney Heidi Dalenberg said in federal court that both investigators who had been in contact with Freud’s family the year before his death had too much work under the consent decree.

Investigators were only supposed to have no more than 153 new cases a year; with 12 to 15 per month. Nonetheless, one of the investigators in question went over limits for nine of the 12 months in 2018, sometimes going three to nine cases over.

Freund was found dead in a shallow grave in Woodstock, Illinois, said police. His parents Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham had reported him missing on April 18. Cops released 911 audio in which the father claimed to have no idea about the child’s whereabouts. According to investigators, however, Freund Sr. and Cunningham knew exactly where he was. They’d allegedly put him in a cold shower and beat him, and hid his body after finding him dead.

The parents are in trouble, but state officials face scrutiny, too. Police were called to the home at least 17 times over five years for abuse and drug allegations. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had had Cunningham on their radar since even before AJ’s death. She faced neglect and drug use allegations in relation to her older son and a foster child, though investigators said this was unfounded.

Problems continued into 2013, where AJ was born with opiates in his system, and DCFS too him into custody until 2015. Contact between the family and this state agency continued until the months before AJ’s death. Police alleged in December 2018 that the home was in terrible condition with dog feces and urine, and other problems. They also noted a bruise on AJ’s hip. Nonetheless, DCFS determined that the abuse allegation was not founded.

A case worker and supervisor are currently on administrative leave because of the Freund case.

[Image via Crystal Lake Police Department]

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