Family Defense Center Prepares for 2015 Legislative Session

Family Defense Center Prepares for 2015 Legislative Session

Two major bill proposals limit family separations under safety plans and reduce harm from unfair abuse or neglect labels.

In the 2014 legislative session, the Family Defense Center achieved four major successes:  we secured passage of three pieces of legislation and we defeated an effort of the Cook County State’s Attorney that would have legislatively overturned our appellate victory in the Yohan.  K case (which held that a constellation of injuries does not by itself constitute abuse – see Family Defender Issue 15). The first of the affirmative bills we drafted requires safety plans to be in writing and signed, stating the responsibilities of the parties. The second allows juvenile court to appoint parents to be the educational advocates for their children even if DCFS has temporary custody. The third creates a task force to make recommendations for restoration of the differential response program, which deflects cases from investigations and into services, but was abruptly ended in 2012 due to budget cuts.

The Center is now gearing up for an ambitious 2015 session. The Family Defense Center plans to work with the legislature this year to secure passage of two proposals: the Child Abuse Registry Accuracy and Fairness Act of 2015 (CARAF) and the Family Protection Act of 2015 (FPA). Each bill’s provisions, if passed and implemented, could substantially improve the child welfare system for parents and families across Illinois.

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Attorneys Help Parents Keep Families Intact Amid Misplaced Child Abuse Allegations

The work of an FDC pro bono team at Sidley Austin LLP is highlighted in this article published in the Winter 2013 issue of the American Bar Association’s Litigation magazine:

Attorneys Help Parents Keep Families Intact Amid Misplaced Child Abuse Allegations

Using DCFS Hearings to Exonerate Wrongly-Accused Parents and Caregivers

In this article published in the special Pro Bono Week issue of the Chicago Bar Association Record (October 2011), Executive Director Diane Redleaf and Staff Attorney Melissa Staas discuss the importance of the FDC’s Pro Bono Program in helping us handle as many administrative cases (and help as many families) as possible:

Civil Rights, Individual Rights, and Administrative Law with a “Family Law” Twist: Using DCFS Hearings to Exonerate Wrongly-Accused Parents and Caregivers