New Law Creates Foster Children’s Bill of Rights
This year, House Bill 3684, which creates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights, went into effect in Illinois. The law’s aim is to ensure that all children and adults who are in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services, and are placed in foster homes, have access to the same rights as all other citizens.
Rights and Privileges
The basic rights afforded to foster children include the ability to:
- Live in a safe, healthy and comfortable home;
- Be treated with respect and be free from physical, sexual or emotional abuse or corporal punishment;
- Receive healthful food, adequate clothing and an allowance;
- Receive dental, medical, vision and mental health services;
- Refuse medications unless authorized by a doctor;
- Have freedom of movement and not be locked in a room or building;
- Be free from unreasonable searches of personal belongings and have access to a private storage area;
- Maintain a bank account;
- Have equal access to available services, treatment and benefits regardless of national origin, sex or religion;
- Have access to information about educational opportunities;
- Have access to medically accurate information about reproductive health and pregnancy prevention once a child turns 12 years old; and
- Be in the care of adults who have received training on sensitive matters like race, sexual identity, religion and mental or physical disability.
The new law also specifies certain rights regarding communications that have not been prohibited by Court order, including the ability to:
- Contact family members; social workers and attorneys;
- Visit and contact any siblings;
- Confidentially contact authorities regarding a violation of the child’s rights;
- Make and receive telephone calls and send and receive mail; and
- Have contact with people outside of the foster care system, such as teachers and friends.
Under the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights, individuals in the foster care system are guaranteed the right to attend certain establishments, which includes the ability to:
- Attend religious services and activities;
- Attend school and extracurricular activities;
- Seek employment if age and the law permit; and
- Attend programs that aim to help foster children become self-sufficient after reaching adulthood.
Foster children are also now guaranteed the right to be active participants in their legal matters, which includes the right to:
- Attend court hearings;
- Be involved in decisions regarding permanent placement;
- Review their case plans if they are over the age of 12 years old; and
- Keep any juvenile court records confidential.
Finally, all children placed in the foster care system have the right to receive a copy of the Foster Children's Bill of Rights and to have it explained to them if necessary.
If you have questions about your child’s placement in a foster care facility, an attorney can advise you and help you ensure that your child is afforded all necessary rights and protections. Please call skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule a free initial consultation.