State of Illinois
90th General Assembly

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      New Act
          Creates  the  Child  Advocate  Act.   Provides  that  the
      Governor, with the advice and consent of  the  Senate,  shall
      appoint  a  Child  Advocate to direct the Office of the Child
      Advocate.  Sets forth the powers and duties of the Office  in
      relation  to:  child welfare; evaluation of service delivery,
      procedures, and laws; education; advocacy;  intervention  and
      representation in court actions; and other matters.  Provides
      that  the Child Advocate shall have access to specified types
      of records relating to children and families.   Protects  the
      Office from liability under specified circumstances.
 1        AN ACT concerning the Office of the Child Advocate.
 2        Be  it  enacted  by  the People of the State of Illinois,
 3    represented in the General Assembly:
 4        Section 1.  Short title.  This Act may be  cited  as  the
 5    Child Advocate Act.
 6        Section  5.  Appointment of the Child Advocate.  There is
 7    established an Office of the Child  Advocate.  The  Governor,
 8    with  the  advice  and consent of the Senate, shall appoint a
 9    person with knowledge of the child  welfare  system  and  the
10    legal  system  to fill the Office of the Child Advocate.  The
11    person shall be  qualified  by  training  and  experience  to
12    perform  the  duties of the Office as set forth in Section 30
13    of this Act.  The appointment shall be made from a list of at
14    least 3  persons  prepared  and  submitted  by  the  Advisory
15    Committee   established  pursuant  to Section 55 of this Act.
16    The person appointed Child Advocate shall serve for a term of
17    4 years and may be reappointed  or  shall  continue  to  hold
18    office until his or her successor is appointed and qualified.
19        Section  10.   Staff. The Child Advocate may appoint such
20    staff as may be deemed necessary. The duties of the staff may
21    include the duties  and  powers  of  the  Child  Advocate  if
22    performed under the direction of the Child Advocate.
23        Section  15.  Expenses. The salaries of the Office of the
24    Child Advocate and  the  office  expenses  and  other  actual
25    expenses incurred by the Child Advocate in the performance of
26    his  or her duties shall be paid from moneys appropriated for
27    that purpose. Any legal or court fees obtained by  the  State
28    in  actions  brought  by the Child Advocate shall, subject to
29    appropriation, be  dedicated  to  the  Office  of  the  Child
                            -2-                LRB9010821MWpc
 1    Advocate.
 2        Section  20.   Independence.   Notwithstanding  any other
 3    provision of law, the Child Advocate shall act  independently
 4    of  any  State department or agency in the performance of his
 5    or her duties.
 6        Section 25.  Report.  The Child Advocate  shall  annually
 7    submit  to  the  Governor and the General Assembly a detailed
 8    report  analyzing  the  work  of  the  Office  of  the  Child
 9    Advocate.
10        Section 30.  Duties.
11        (a) The Child Advocate shall:
12             (1) evaluate  the  delivery  of  services  by  State
13        departments   and  agencies  and  entities  that  provide
14        services to children through funds provided by the State;
15             (2)  review periodically the procedures  established
16        by  any  State department or agency providing services to
17        children to carry out the provisions of this Act  with  a
18        view toward the rights of the children;
19             (3)   adopt  rules,  in accordance with the Illinois
20        Administrative Procedure Act, to carry out this Act;
21             (4)  review complaints of  persons  and  investigate
22        those  where  it appears that a child or family may be in
23        need of assistance from the Child Advocate;
24             (5)   periodically   review   the   facilities   and
25        procedures  of  any  and  all institutions or residences,
26        public or private,  where  a  juvenile  has  been  placed
27        either  by  a  court  or  the  Department of Children and
28        Family Services;
29             (6)  recommend changes in  policies  and  procedures
30        for  dealing  with juvenile problems and in the system of
31        providing child care, foster care, and treatment;
                            -3-                LRB9010821MWpc
 1             (7)  take all possible  action  including,  but  not
 2        limited  to,  conducting  programs  of  public education,
 3        legislative advocacy, and making proposals  for  systemic
 4        reform  and formal legal action, to secure and ensure the
 5        legal, civil, and special rights of children  who  reside
 6        in this State;
 7             (8)   provide  training  and technical assistance to
 8        guardians ad litem and special advocates appointed  by  a
 9        court; and
10             (9)  periodically review the number of special needs
11        children  in  any  foster care or permanent care facility
12        and recommend changes in the policies and procedures  for
13        the placement of those children.
14        Section 35. Access to information.
15        (a)  Notwithstanding any  other  provision  of  law,  the
16    Child   Advocate   shall   have   access   to  the  following
17    information:
18             (1)  the name of a  child  in  protective  services,
19        treatment,  or other programs under the jurisdiction of a
20        department or agency addressing child welfare or juvenile
21        justice, and the child's location if in custody;
22             (2)  all written reports of child abuse and neglect;
23             (3)  all records required to be maintained under the
24        Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act;
25             (4)   birth  records  maintained  under  the   Vital
26        Records Act;
27             (5)   records  regarding health, vision, hearing, or
28        dental assessments, examinations, or screenings performed
29        upon a child;
30             (6)  records regarding applicants for or  recipients
31        of assistance under the Illinois Public Aid Code;
32             (7)   records and communications to which the Mental
33        Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act
                            -4-                LRB9010821MWpc
 1        applies;
 2             (8)  juvenile court records; and
 3             (9)  all other records of State  agencies,  schools,
 4        police,  health  and medical providers, and the courts as
 5        may be necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the
 6        Child Advocate.
 7        (b)  To the extent any  information  referenced  in  this
 8    Section  provides  the names and addresses of individuals who
 9    are the subject of any confidential proceeding,  those  names
10    and  addresses or related information which has the effect of
11    identifying those individuals shall not be  released  to  the
12    public without the consent of those individuals.
13        Section  40.  Powers.   The Child Advocate shall have the
14    following powers:
15             (1) to communicate privately,  by  mail  or  orally,
16        with any child or family in treatment or under protective
17        services;
18             (2)  to have access, including the right to inspect,
19        copy, and subpoena records  held  by  the  clerk  of  the
20        circuit  court,  law  enforcement  agencies,  public  and
21        private  agencies and institutions, and other agencies or
22        persons with whom a  particular  child  has  been  either
23        voluntarily or otherwise placed for care, or has received
24        treatment within the State;
25             (3)  to  take  whatever steps are appropriate to see
26        that persons are made aware of the services of the Office
27        of the Child Advocate, its purpose, and  how  it  can  be
28        contacted; and
29             (4)  to  apply  for  and  accept  grants,  gifts and
30        bequests  of  funds  from  other  states,   federal   and
31        interstate   agencies  and  independent  authorities  and
32        private  firms,  individuals,  and  foundations  for  the
33        purpose   of   carrying   out   his   or    her    lawful
                            -5-                LRB9010821MWpc
 1        responsibilities.
 2        Section 45.  Additional powers.
 3        (a)  In addition to the powers set forth in Section 40 of
 4    this  Act,  the  Child  Advocate  or  his or her designee may
 5    represent, appear, intervene in, or bring an action on behalf
 6    of any child,  with  the  consent  of  the  parent  or  legal
 7    guardian  of  the  child  in any proceeding before any court,
 8    agency, or other  entity  in  this  State  in  which  matters
 9    related  to  this  Act  are  in  issue. Before instituting an
10    action under this subsection, the Child Advocate shall make a
11    good faith effort  to  resolve  issues  or  problems  through
12    mediation.
13        (b)    Any   judgment   for  compensation  or  order  for
14    settlement of the claim for compensation entered by the court
15    under subsection (a) of this Section shall be  considered  as
16    the  estate  of  the  child for whose benefit the judgment or
17    order is entered, to be held by the Office of Child  Advocate
18    as  guardian of the compensation, and shall be deposited into
19    a trust account established by the Office for the purpose  of
20    distributing  the  funds  to the child in accordance with the
21    plan adopted by the circuit court.
22        Section 50.  Liability.   The  State  of  Illinois  shall
23    protect   and   hold   harmless   any   attorney,   director,
24    investigator,  social worker, or other person employed by the
25    Office of the Child Advocate and any volunteer  appointed  by
26    the Child Advocate from financial loss and expense, including
27    legal  fees  and  costs,  if  any,  arising out of any claim,
28    demand, or suit for damages resulting from acts or  omissions
29    committed  in  the  discharge  of  his or her duties with the
30    Office  within  the  scope  of  his  or  her  employment   or
31    appointment  which  may  constitute negligence but which acts
32    are not wanton, malicious, or grossly negligent as determined
                            -6-                LRB9010821MWpc
 1    by a court.
 2        Section 55. Advisory committee.  There is established  an
 3    advisory  committee to the Office of the Child Advocate which
 4    shall meet 3 times a year with the Child Advocate and his  or
 5    her  staff to review and assess the following:  (1)  patterns
 6    of  treatment  and  service   for    children;   (2)   policy
 7    implications;  and  (3) necessary systemic improvements.  The
 8    advisory  committee  shall  also  provide   for   an   annual
 9    evaluation of the effectiveness of the office.
10        (b)   The   advisory   committee  shall  consist  of  one
11    pediatrician  appointed  by  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of
12    Representatives;  one  public  child  welfare  social  worker
13    appointed  by  the  Minority   Leader   of   the   House   of
14    Representatives;  one  psychologist appointed by the Illinois
15    Psychological Association;  one  attorney  appointed  by  the
16    Illinois   State   Bar  Association;  one  circuit  judge  or
17    associate circuit judge appointed by the Chief Justice of the
18    Supreme  Court;  one  representative  of  private  children's
19    agencies appointed by the President of the  Senate;  and  one
20    representative of education  appointed by the Minority Leader
21    of  the  Senate.   Each  member  of  the  advisory  committee
22    shall serve a 5-year term.
23        (c)  The advisory committee shall  provide  authorization
24    to the Child Advocate for initiating a legal action against a
25    State department or agency.

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