DCFS chief resigns after investigation into his past

February 26, 2014

Sun-Times file
Arthur Bishop (right) then-director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and other Illinois executive branch officials at a hearing in Joliet in 2012.

The newly appointed director of Illinois’ child welfare system resigned Wednesday, after one month on the job.

In his resignation letter, Arthur Bishop writes that for 20 years, he’s been dedicated to the best interest of children who are in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

He goes on to write, “I am aware that we are in the midst of a contested election, and that my documented accomplishments, dedication, and almost 20 years of exemplary work are in this environment, simply irrelevant.

“While your political rivals may be willing to attack me in an effort to obtain some modicum of political advantage, I cannot agree to be used as a distraction to the real issues that face the State and the children that remain in State custody.”

Bishop’s abrupt resignation comes after recent reports by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times that looked into his past.

Related: Child-abuse, neglect deaths in Illinois remain high in DCFS-involved cases

The news organizations found public records showing Bishop had pleaded guilty 20 years ago to stealing from clients of his former employer, a mental health center on Chicago’s West Side. Bishop later said he only pleaded guilty to end the stress the ongoing case was causing his family.

Reporters also found Bishop had been sued 11 years ago for child support. Bishop’s daughter, Erica, is now 27. She recently told WBEZ and the Sun-Times that Bishop had never been involved in her life, and she questioned whether he deserved to be in charge of the department that oversees neglected children.

Paperwork signed by Quinn and filed with the Secretary of State’s office, indicates he’s named another DCFS employee, Bobbie Gregg, interim director.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.