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.