New Law Makes Changes to the Children and Family Services Advisory Council
After disturbing reports hit the media discussing the abuse and neglect of numerous children who had been taken out of their parents’ custody and placed in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the state legislature quickly devised a series of new laws meant to improve the monitoring of child care facilities across the state.
Senate Bill 13 revised the duties and membership requirements of the Family Service’s Advisory Council, a group previously put in place to oversee DCFS licensed child care facilities, in efforts to increase accountability and prevent incidences of abuse from going unreported.
Advisory Council Membership
The new law changed the number of members who sit on the Children and Family Services Advisory Council from 17 to 21, all of whom are to serve four-year terms. Furthermore, all members must now be appointed by the governor rather than by the council itself. While the council largely acts independently, DCFS can still participate in its business by sending individuals with specialized expertise to assist with specific tasks. Additionally, the council is required to include among its members at least one youth from each of DCFS’s regional youth advisory boards. Finally, at least two adults who are former wards of the state must be admitted to the board.
Advisory Council Duties
In Illinois, the council is permitted to advise DCFS on services and programs offered to individuals within their care. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Reviewing procedures for monitoring child care facilities;
- Reviewing how the quality of life for children in child care facilities is to be monitored and addressed;
- Recommending standards for ensuring the safety of youth in child care facilities;
- Overseeing the implementation of its recommendations;
- Identifying areas that require improvement in investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect;
- Reviewing data reports of telephone calls made to DCFS; and
- Identifying areas of improvement and changes necessary to DCFS rules and procedures.
Access to Confidential Records
The DCFS is now required to provide the council with all requested records in its possession, although all such documents are still to be considered confidential. Permitting or assisting in the unauthorized release of information contained in confidential records is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, two years of probation, and the payment of a $2,500 fine.
Thousands of children are placed with DCFS each year, both temporarily and permanently. If your child has been placed in the care of DCFS, or if you have any other custody-related questions, an attorney can help protect your parental rights. Please call dedicated Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson at 847.873.6741 for a free initial consultation.