Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB3720
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Full Text of SB3720  102nd General Assembly

SB3720enr 102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  
  
  

 


 
SB3720 EnrolledLRB102 23913 KTG 33111 b

1    AN ACT concerning children.
 
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
 
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program Act.
 
6    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds that the
7University of Illinois' Children and Family Research Center
8determined in its October 2021 report, "Racial
9Disproportionality in the Illinois Child Welfare System",
10that:
11        (1) In 2020, compared to their percentage in the
12    general child population, black children were
13    overrepresented in foster care having made up 16.4% of the
14    general child population, but accounting for 38.5% of
15    protective custodies.
16        (2) In comparison, white children were proportionally
17    represented in foster care having made up 52.8% of the
18    general child population, but accounting for 48.8% of
19    protective custodies. Hispanic children were
20    under-represented having made up 24.9% of the general
21    child population, but accounting for 11.5% of protective
22    custodies.
 

 

 

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1    Section 10. Purpose.
2    (a) In Illinois, and across the nation, some racial and
3ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in
4the child welfare system. This disproportionality could occur
5at 5 different decision points during a family's child welfare
6involvement:
7        (1) investigated child abuse/neglect (CAN) reports;
8        (2) protective custodies;
9        (3) indicated CAN reports;
10        (4) post-investigation service provision; and
11        (5) timely exits from substitute care.
12    (b) The purpose of this Act is to:
13        (1) Require the Department of Children and Family
14    Services to establish a 3-year, Bias-Free Child Removal
15    Pilot Program for the purpose of promoting unbiased
16    decision making in the child removal process, while
17    maintaining the safety of children and reducing risk, with
18    the goal of decreasing the overrepresentation of BIPOC
19    children in out-of-home placements. This goal would be
20    achieved by convening a group of senior-level internal
21    staff members from the Department of Children and Family
22    Services who are from an area other than the pilot area to
23    (i) review removal decisions, absent specific demographic
24    information and (ii) determine whether removal of a child
25    is necessary to avoid imminent risk to the child's safety,
26    health, and well-being.

 

 

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1        (2) Establish a steering committee to:
2            (A) develop and implement the Bias-Free Removal
3        Pilot Program;
4            (B) appoint members for the Bias-Free Case Review
5        Team; and
6            (C) appoint members for the Bias-Free Child
7        Removal Advisory Board.
8        (3) Establish a Bias-Free Case Review Team consisting
9    of a child protection supervisor, an area administrator,
10    and a regional administrator from an area other than the
11    pilot area to: (i) review removal decisions absent
12    specific demographic information as provided in paragraph
13    (3) of subsection (e) of Section 25; and (ii) determine
14    whether removal of the child is necessary to avoid
15    imminent risk to the child's safety, health, and
16    well-being.
17        (4) Establish a Bias-Free Child Removal Advisory Board
18    to monitor and oversee the Bias-Free Case Review Team and
19    ensure that the Bias-Free Case Review Team executes
20    bias-free removals in accordance with the provisions of
21    this Act.
 
22    Section 15. Definitions. As used in this Act:
23    "Bias-free" means to review a case file without the
24following identifying demographic information on the parent
25and child: gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location, and

 

 

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1socioeconomic status, which prevents a reader from inserting
2bias, implicit or explicit, into critical decisions such as
3removing a child from the child's family.
4    "BIPOC" means people who are members of the groups
5described in subparagraphs (a) through (e) of paragraph (A) of
6subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Business Enterprise for
7Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act.
8    "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
9    "Child welfare court personnel" means lawyers, judges,
10public defenders, and guardians ad litem.
11    "Department" means the Department of Children and Family
12Services.
13    "Evaluation design" means identifying an overall strategy
14for analyzing the effectiveness of a program to include
15outlining a distinct approach to formulating key outputs and
16outcomes, selecting an appropriate research method, and
17evaluating the outcomes of a program.
18    "Immediate and urgent necessity", in accordance with
19Section 5 of the Abused and Neglected Child reporting Act,
20means (i) that there is a reason to believe that the child
21cannot be cared for at home or in the custody of the person
22responsible for the child's welfare without endangering the
23child's health or safety and (ii) that there is no time to
24apply for a court order under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987
25for temporary custody of the child.
26    "Lived experience" means a representation of the

 

 

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1experiences of a person involved in the child welfare system,
2the knowledge and understanding that the person gains from
3these experiences, and the ability to understand the policies
4or guidelines of the Department.
5    "Program" or "pilot program" means the Bias-Free Child
6Removal Pilot Program.
7    "Review Team" means the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
 
8    Section 20. Program. The Department of Children and Family
9Services shall establish a 3-year Bias-Free Child Removal
10Pilot Program no later than January 1, 2024, for the purpose of
11promoting unbiased decision making in the child removal
12process. The pilot program shall be implemented in a field
13office located in DuPage County, a field office located in
14Champaign County, and a field office located in Williamson
15County. The purpose of promoting unbiased decision making in
16the child removal process shall be achieved by the identified
17county using a bias-free child removal strategy when deciding
18whether a child should be removed from the custody of the
19child's parent or guardian, as specified.
20    By January 1, 2024, the steering committee established by
21the Department as provided in Section 25 shall develop the
22pilot program for the purpose of addressing racial
23disproportionality in the child welfare system. The pilot
24program shall be implemented for a period of no less than 3
25years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one

 

 

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1office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
2Williamson County.
3    The Department shall on January 1, 2025, January 1, 2026,
4and January 1, 2027 submit to the General Assembly an
5evaluation report that details the pilot program's
6implementation and that provides an analysis of the pilot
7program's effect and impact on the removal rates of BIPOC
8children. The January 1, 2027 report shall be the final
9evaluation report submitted to the General Assembly by the
10Department.
 
11    Section 25. Implementation.
12    (a) By January 1, 2023, the Department shall establish a
13steering committee consisting of an interdisciplinary, diverse
14group of child welfare professionals and advocates for the
15purpose of creating the Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program
16and the pre-implementation plan for the pilot program. The
17steering committee shall be diverse in regard to the
18geographic location, race/ethnicity, gender, and profession
19and lived experience of committee members. As used in this
20Section, "lived experience" includes knowledge and
21understanding of Department processes and policies. The
22steering committee shall develop and oversee the
23implementation of the Bias-Free Case Review Team and bias-free
24removal process. Once established, the steering committee
25shall initiate implementation of the pilot program ensuring:

 

 

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1(i) organizational readiness; (ii) adequate data collection
2and analysis; (iii) professional development and training for
3the staff; and (iv) adherence to existing rules and State laws
4concerning child safety. The steering committee shall include,
5but not be limited to, the following members:
6        (1) A parent with lived experience in the child
7    welfare system.
8        (2) A former youth in care with lived experience in
9    the child welfare system.
10        (3) A member of an organization or office that
11    represents children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
12        (4) A community-based organization that advocates for
13    parents' rights within the child welfare system.
14        (5) A public or private university responsible for
15    evaluating the pilot program.
16        (6) Five staff members from the Department, which
17    shall include a child protection investigator, a child
18    protection supervisor, the Deputy Director of the
19    Department's Division of Child Protection, the Deputy
20    Director of the Department's Division of Race Equity
21    Practice, and the Deputy Director of the Department's
22    Division of Intact Services.
23        (7) A licensed attorney who has practiced within the
24    Illinois child welfare court system in a county
25    represented in the pilot program such as, but not limited
26    to, a public defender, an assistant state's attorney, a

 

 

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1    guardian ad litem, or a judge.
2        (8) A member of a statewide organization that
3    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
4    children and families.
5    (b) By January 1, 2024, the steering committee shall
6establish the pilot program for the purpose of addressing
7racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. The
8pilot program shall be implemented for a period of no less than
93 years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one
10office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
11Williamson County.
12    (c) The steering committee shall develop a written plan
13for the pilot program, in accordance with the goals of this
14Act, that shall be adopted by a unanimous vote.
15    (d) The steering committee must include in the development
16of the pilot program the following:
17        (1) Three permanent Bias-Free Case Review Team members
18    for each county with a pilot program. The Review Team
19    shall be diverse in regard to the members' geographic
20    location, race and ethnicity, and gender. All Review Team
21    members shall possess the knowledge, experience,
22    understanding, and training equivalent to that of a child
23    welfare caseworker or investigator, or higher. The Review
24    Team shall be made up of the following:
25            (A) one child protection supervisor;
26            (B) one area administrator; and

 

 

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1            (C) one regional administrator.
2        (2) At least 4 alternate Review Team members who meet
3    the same criteria set forth in paragraph (1) to fill in if
4    or when a permanent Review Team member is unable to
5    participate or attend meetings.
6        (3) A decision regarding a timeline for convening the
7    Bias-Free Case Review Team.
8        (4) Establishment of decision-making protocols for the
9    following questions:
10            (i) What constitutes a child protection
11        investigation meeting or not meeting the criteria to
12        be presented to the Review Team?
13            (ii) Who decides to bring the investigation to the
14        Review Team?
15            (iii) How and when the Review Team is to convene
16        during holidays, weekends, and after normal business
17        hours?
18    (e) The steering committee shall ensure that the pilot
19program includes:
20        (1) A timeline for when the Bias-Free Case Review Team
21    shall convene.
22        (2) How and when the child protection investigator or
23    child protection supervisor shall present the
24    investigation to the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
25        (3) A requirement that, prior to the Review Team
26    convening, the following demographic and identifiable

 

 

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1    information must be removed from the case notes, intake
2    summary, and investigation:
3            (A) The name of the child and the child's parents.
4            (B) The race or ethnicity of the child and the
5        child's parents, except when the allegations require
6        thoughtful considerations pertaining to a family's
7        culture, ethnicity, or religion.
8            (C) The sexual orientation or gender identity of
9        the child and the child's parents, except when the
10        allegations require thoughtful considerations
11        pertaining to the LGBTQ status or gender identity of
12        the child.
13            (D) The religious affiliation or beliefs of the
14        child and the child's parents, except when the
15        allegations require thoughtful considerations
16        pertaining to a family's culture, ethnicity, or
17        religion.
18            (E) The disability status of a parent, except when
19        the allegations require thoughtful considerations
20        pertaining to a family's disability status.
21            (F) The political affiliation or beliefs of the
22        child and the child's parents.
23            (G) The marital status of the child's parents.
24            (H) The income level of the child's parents.
25            (I) The education level of the child's parents.
26            (J) Any reference to the location of the

 

 

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1        neighborhood or county of the parent's address.
2        Redacting the demographic and identifiable information
3    from the intake summary, case notes, and investigation
4    reduces the potential for biased decision making among
5    Review Team members. In adherence with the standards under
6    the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and
7    Department rules, the focus shall instead be on the
8    evidence of safety factors, risk elements, and family
9    strengths. If removal is identified as unwarranted, the
10    Review Team shall make appropriate recommendations to
11    ensure the safety and well-being of the child, including,
12    but not limited to, voluntary or court-ordered intact
13    family services.
14        The pilot program shall not prevent a child protection
15    investigator or supervisor from performing routine
16    assignments required under Department policy after taking
17    protective custody of a child.
18        The redaction of case file information or the
19    preparation of case files for the Review Team shall not be
20    completed by the child protection investigator or the
21    child protection supervisor.
22        Agreement by a majority of the Review Team members, as
23    shall be outlined in protocol, is needed to render a final
24    decision.
25    (f) The Department shall develop a tool or rubric for the
26Review Team to fully document the decision-making process and

 

 

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1what led to the final decision.
2        (1) The Review Team shall make a decision on whether
3    the child's removal from the child's home should be upheld
4    or the child should be returned home to the child's
5    parent.
6        (2) The Review Team shall submit to the child
7    protection team (child protection worker, child protection
8    supervisor, and area administrator) the final decision in
9    writing.
10    (g) The steering committee shall have the authority to
11include additional parameters in developing the pilot program,
12as necessary, to remain consistent with and fulfill the
13purpose and goal of the pilot program.
14    (h) Cases that shall not be included in the pilot program:
15        (1) Where protective custody is taken by law
16    enforcement or a medical professional.
17        (2) Cases that involve a forensic interview by a child
18    protective investigator or law enforcement.
19        (3) Cases that include photographs of injuries.
20        (4) Any case where the child welfare court has made a
21    determination on the issue of custody.
22    (i) There is established a Bias-Free Child Removal
23Advisory Board with the knowledge and understanding of the
24Department's policies, rules, and procedures that shall
25include up to 2 of the following members, per pilot area:
26        (1) community-based partners from the fields of

 

 

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1    domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, or
2    housing;
3        (2) public or private university partners;
4        (3) a member of an organization that advocates on
5    behalf of parents and families;
6        (4) a member of an organization that legally
7    represents children who are involved in the foster care
8    system, in the court process;
9        (5) a member of a statewide organization that
10    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
11    children and families;
12        (6) a parent with lived experience in the child
13    welfare system;
14        (7) a former youth in care with lived experience in
15    the child welfare system; and
16        (8) a member of an organization or office that
17    represents children in legal abuse and neglect
18    proceedings.
19    The Advisory Board shall be present with the Bias-Free
20Review Team for all case reviews for the purpose of ensuring
21that the Review Team executes bias-free removals in accordance
22with this Act. The Advisory Board shall not be responsible for
23any decision making.
24    (j) The Department shall adopt the written protocols
25developed by the steering committee.
26    (k) Criteria for determining success. The pilot program

 

 

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1shall be considered successful and expanded statewide if it is
2implemented with fidelity and the evaluation reveals that
3disproportionality of BIPOC children is reduced by the end of
4the pilot program. The pilot program shall not be expanded
5statewide if the evaluation reveals that the bias-free removal
6process did not reduce disproportionality.
7    (l) The Department shall adopt rules, policies, and
8procedures necessary to implement this Act with the assistance
9of the steering committee. The Department shall present
10findings of the evaluation to the General Assembly on a yearly
11basis, with the first report due on January 1, 2025. After year
123 of the pilot program, the Department shall determine the
13need to expand the pilot program statewide, if data shows an
14impact on disproportionality, and shall provide a
15justification for or against statewide expansion. The pilot
16program does not create a private cause of action in case there
17is a problem with the application of the bias-free removal
18process.
 
19    Section 30. Repealer. This Act is repealed on January 1,
202027.
 
21    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
22becoming law.