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THUMBS UP! To a closer look at children's welfare in Illinois. The Department of Children and Family Services, which has been haunted for decades by deaths wrought of abuse and neglect, is in the spotlight again following the beating death of a 5-year-old suburban Chicago boy with a long history of contact with the agency. That follows the deaths of two other Illinois children, including Ta’Naja Barnes,  a 2-year-old Decatur girl who police say died of starvation and neglect. Her mother and mother’s boyfriend are charged with murder and have pleaded not guilty in the case. The more uncovered about DCFS, the more we hear about overloaded case workers and cases not being followed through. This is vital. The disarray in the system must be repaired, and not just discussed.

THUMBS UP! To an accurate census in 2020. You'll be hearing about this repeatedly in coming months, because of its importance. The Chicago Urban League published a report Tuesday that calls for $33 million in funding for "trusted community leaders" to get the word out about the 2020 census. Census results are key in federal appropriations. "While this may seem like a generous appropriation, $33 million is just 27 percent of what Illinois stands to lose in Medicaid funding in just one year ($122 million) if there is even a 1 percent undercount," the report stated. Most households across the country will get a mailed invitation March 2020 to participate in the census by answering questions by phone, by mail or online, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The census has the potential to be a breeding ground for suspicion and refusals. Here's hoping the financial investment can put some of that to rest.

THUMBS DOWN! To miserable weather. We like to pretend that rain is good for farmers this time of year, but it isn't when it keeps them out of the fields. That's what's happening this month.  Illinois now totals 10% planted of its planned corn acreage. In an average year, that number would be 66%. Here's hoping for some sunshine, for the rest of us as well as farmers.

THUMBS UP! To the city council approving $1.8 million worth of city street repairs. The work is expected to begin in July on portions of East Central Avenue, East Division Street, South Jasper Street, East Wood Street and North Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Improvements vary from overlaying fresh asphalt on the streets to reconstruction efforts. 

THUMBS UP! To Heroicon. The three-day event, sponsored by Games for Troops, just concluded its fifth annual run. The event was projected to raise about $10,000, and the organization uses the funds to send board and card games to grant the request of any member of the armed forces worldwide. 

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