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Public Act 102-1087


 

Public Act 1087 102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  
  
  

 


 
Public Act 102-1087
 
SB3720 EnrolledLRB102 23913 KTG 33111 b

    AN ACT concerning children.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program Act.
 
    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds that the
University of Illinois' Children and Family Research Center
determined in its October 2021 report, "Racial
Disproportionality in the Illinois Child Welfare System",
that:
        (1) In 2020, compared to their percentage in the
    general child population, black children were
    overrepresented in foster care having made up 16.4% of the
    general child population, but accounting for 38.5% of
    protective custodies.
        (2) In comparison, white children were proportionally
    represented in foster care having made up 52.8% of the
    general child population, but accounting for 48.8% of
    protective custodies. Hispanic children were
    under-represented having made up 24.9% of the general
    child population, but accounting for 11.5% of protective
    custodies.
 
    Section 10. Purpose.
    (a) In Illinois, and across the nation, some racial and
ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in
the child welfare system. This disproportionality could occur
at 5 different decision points during a family's child welfare
involvement:
        (1) investigated child abuse/neglect (CAN) reports;
        (2) protective custodies;
        (3) indicated CAN reports;
        (4) post-investigation service provision; and
        (5) timely exits from substitute care.
    (b) The purpose of this Act is to:
        (1) Require the Department of Children and Family
    Services to establish a 3-year, Bias-Free Child Removal
    Pilot Program for the purpose of promoting unbiased
    decision making in the child removal process, while
    maintaining the safety of children and reducing risk, with
    the goal of decreasing the overrepresentation of BIPOC
    children in out-of-home placements. This goal would be
    achieved by convening a group of senior-level internal
    staff members from the Department of Children and Family
    Services who are from an area other than the pilot area to
    (i) review removal decisions, absent specific demographic
    information and (ii) determine whether removal of a child
    is necessary to avoid imminent risk to the child's safety,
    health, and well-being.
        (2) Establish a steering committee to:
            (A) develop and implement the Bias-Free Removal
        Pilot Program;
            (B) appoint members for the Bias-Free Case Review
        Team; and
            (C) appoint members for the Bias-Free Child
        Removal Advisory Board.
        (3) Establish a Bias-Free Case Review Team consisting
    of a child protection supervisor, an area administrator,
    and a regional administrator from an area other than the
    pilot area to: (i) review removal decisions absent
    specific demographic information as provided in paragraph
    (3) of subsection (e) of Section 25; and (ii) determine
    whether removal of the child is necessary to avoid
    imminent risk to the child's safety, health, and
    well-being.
        (4) Establish a Bias-Free Child Removal Advisory Board
    to monitor and oversee the Bias-Free Case Review Team and
    ensure that the Bias-Free Case Review Team executes
    bias-free removals in accordance with the provisions of
    this Act.
 
    Section 15. Definitions. As used in this Act:
    "Bias-free" means to review a case file without the
following identifying demographic information on the parent
and child: gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location, and
socioeconomic status, which prevents a reader from inserting
bias, implicit or explicit, into critical decisions such as
removing a child from the child's family.
    "BIPOC" means people who are members of the groups
described in subparagraphs (a) through (e) of paragraph (A) of
subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Business Enterprise for
Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act.
    "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
    "Child welfare court personnel" means lawyers, judges,
public defenders, and guardians ad litem.
    "Department" means the Department of Children and Family
Services.
    "Evaluation design" means identifying an overall strategy
for analyzing the effectiveness of a program to include
outlining a distinct approach to formulating key outputs and
outcomes, selecting an appropriate research method, and
evaluating the outcomes of a program.
    "Immediate and urgent necessity", in accordance with
Section 5 of the Abused and Neglected Child reporting Act,
means (i) that there is a reason to believe that the child
cannot be cared for at home or in the custody of the person
responsible for the child's welfare without endangering the
child's health or safety and (ii) that there is no time to
apply for a court order under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987
for temporary custody of the child.
    "Lived experience" means a representation of the
experiences of a person involved in the child welfare system,
the knowledge and understanding that the person gains from
these experiences, and the ability to understand the policies
or guidelines of the Department.
    "Program" or "pilot program" means the Bias-Free Child
Removal Pilot Program.
    "Review Team" means the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
 
    Section 20. Program. The Department of Children and Family
Services shall establish a 3-year Bias-Free Child Removal
Pilot Program no later than January 1, 2024, for the purpose of
promoting unbiased decision making in the child removal
process. The pilot program shall be implemented in a field
office located in DuPage County, a field office located in
Champaign County, and a field office located in Williamson
County. The purpose of promoting unbiased decision making in
the child removal process shall be achieved by the identified
county using a bias-free child removal strategy when deciding
whether a child should be removed from the custody of the
child's parent or guardian, as specified.
    By January 1, 2024, the steering committee established by
the Department as provided in Section 25 shall develop the
pilot program for the purpose of addressing racial
disproportionality in the child welfare system. The pilot
program shall be implemented for a period of no less than 3
years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one
office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
Williamson County.
    The Department shall on January 1, 2025, January 1, 2026,
and January 1, 2027 submit to the General Assembly an
evaluation report that details the pilot program's
implementation and that provides an analysis of the pilot
program's effect and impact on the removal rates of BIPOC
children. The January 1, 2027 report shall be the final
evaluation report submitted to the General Assembly by the
Department.
 
    Section 25. Implementation.
    (a) By January 1, 2023, the Department shall establish a
steering committee consisting of an interdisciplinary, diverse
group of child welfare professionals and advocates for the
purpose of creating the Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program
and the pre-implementation plan for the pilot program. The
steering committee shall be diverse in regard to the
geographic location, race/ethnicity, gender, and profession
and lived experience of committee members. As used in this
Section, "lived experience" includes knowledge and
understanding of Department processes and policies. The
steering committee shall develop and oversee the
implementation of the Bias-Free Case Review Team and bias-free
removal process. Once established, the steering committee
shall initiate implementation of the pilot program ensuring:
(i) organizational readiness; (ii) adequate data collection
and analysis; (iii) professional development and training for
the staff; and (iv) adherence to existing rules and State laws
concerning child safety. The steering committee shall include,
but not be limited to, the following members:
        (1) A parent with lived experience in the child
    welfare system.
        (2) A former youth in care with lived experience in
    the child welfare system.
        (3) A member of an organization or office that
    represents children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
        (4) A community-based organization that advocates for
    parents' rights within the child welfare system.
        (5) A public or private university responsible for
    evaluating the pilot program.
        (6) Five staff members from the Department, which
    shall include a child protection investigator, a child
    protection supervisor, the Deputy Director of the
    Department's Division of Child Protection, the Deputy
    Director of the Department's Division of Race Equity
    Practice, and the Deputy Director of the Department's
    Division of Intact Services.
        (7) A licensed attorney who has practiced within the
    Illinois child welfare court system in a county
    represented in the pilot program such as, but not limited
    to, a public defender, an assistant state's attorney, a
    guardian ad litem, or a judge.
        (8) A member of a statewide organization that
    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
    children and families.
    (b) By January 1, 2024, the steering committee shall
establish the pilot program for the purpose of addressing
racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. The
pilot program shall be implemented for a period of no less than
3 years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one
office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
Williamson County.
    (c) The steering committee shall develop a written plan
for the pilot program, in accordance with the goals of this
Act, that shall be adopted by a unanimous vote.
    (d) The steering committee must include in the development
of the pilot program the following:
        (1) Three permanent Bias-Free Case Review Team members
    for each county with a pilot program. The Review Team
    shall be diverse in regard to the members' geographic
    location, race and ethnicity, and gender. All Review Team
    members shall possess the knowledge, experience,
    understanding, and training equivalent to that of a child
    welfare caseworker or investigator, or higher. The Review
    Team shall be made up of the following:
            (A) one child protection supervisor;
            (B) one area administrator; and
            (C) one regional administrator.
        (2) At least 4 alternate Review Team members who meet
    the same criteria set forth in paragraph (1) to fill in if
    or when a permanent Review Team member is unable to
    participate or attend meetings.
        (3) A decision regarding a timeline for convening the
    Bias-Free Case Review Team.
        (4) Establishment of decision-making protocols for the
    following questions:
            (i) What constitutes a child protection
        investigation meeting or not meeting the criteria to
        be presented to the Review Team?
            (ii) Who decides to bring the investigation to the
        Review Team?
            (iii) How and when the Review Team is to convene
        during holidays, weekends, and after normal business
        hours?
    (e) The steering committee shall ensure that the pilot
program includes:
        (1) A timeline for when the Bias-Free Case Review Team
    shall convene.
        (2) How and when the child protection investigator or
    child protection supervisor shall present the
    investigation to the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
        (3) A requirement that, prior to the Review Team
    convening, the following demographic and identifiable
    information must be removed from the case notes, intake
    summary, and investigation:
            (A) The name of the child and the child's parents.
            (B) The race or ethnicity of the child and the
        child's parents, except when the allegations require
        thoughtful considerations pertaining to a family's
        culture, ethnicity, or religion.
            (C) The sexual orientation or gender identity of
        the child and the child's parents, except when the
        allegations require thoughtful considerations
        pertaining to the LGBTQ status or gender identity of
        the child.
            (D) The religious affiliation or beliefs of the
        child and the child's parents, except when the
        allegations require thoughtful considerations
        pertaining to a family's culture, ethnicity, or
        religion.
            (E) The disability status of a parent, except when
        the allegations require thoughtful considerations
        pertaining to a family's disability status.
            (F) The political affiliation or beliefs of the
        child and the child's parents.
            (G) The marital status of the child's parents.
            (H) The income level of the child's parents.
            (I) The education level of the child's parents.
            (J) Any reference to the location of the
        neighborhood or county of the parent's address.
        Redacting the demographic and identifiable information
    from the intake summary, case notes, and investigation
    reduces the potential for biased decision making among
    Review Team members. In adherence with the standards under
    the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and
    Department rules, the focus shall instead be on the
    evidence of safety factors, risk elements, and family
    strengths. If removal is identified as unwarranted, the
    Review Team shall make appropriate recommendations to
    ensure the safety and well-being of the child, including,
    but not limited to, voluntary or court-ordered intact
    family services.
        The pilot program shall not prevent a child protection
    investigator or supervisor from performing routine
    assignments required under Department policy after taking
    protective custody of a child.
        The redaction of case file information or the
    preparation of case files for the Review Team shall not be
    completed by the child protection investigator or the
    child protection supervisor.
        Agreement by a majority of the Review Team members, as
    shall be outlined in protocol, is needed to render a final
    decision.
    (f) The Department shall develop a tool or rubric for the
Review Team to fully document the decision-making process and
what led to the final decision.
        (1) The Review Team shall make a decision on whether
    the child's removal from the child's home should be upheld
    or the child should be returned home to the child's
    parent.
        (2) The Review Team shall submit to the child
    protection team (child protection worker, child protection
    supervisor, and area administrator) the final decision in
    writing.
    (g) The steering committee shall have the authority to
include additional parameters in developing the pilot program,
as necessary, to remain consistent with and fulfill the
purpose and goal of the pilot program.
    (h) Cases that shall not be included in the pilot program:
        (1) Where protective custody is taken by law
    enforcement or a medical professional.
        (2) Cases that involve a forensic interview by a child
    protective investigator or law enforcement.
        (3) Cases that include photographs of injuries.
        (4) Any case where the child welfare court has made a
    determination on the issue of custody.
    (i) There is established a Bias-Free Child Removal
Advisory Board with the knowledge and understanding of the
Department's policies, rules, and procedures that shall
include up to 2 of the following members, per pilot area:
        (1) community-based partners from the fields of
    domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, or
    housing;
        (2) public or private university partners;
        (3) a member of an organization that advocates on
    behalf of parents and families;
        (4) a member of an organization that legally
    represents children who are involved in the foster care
    system, in the court process;
        (5) a member of a statewide organization that
    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
    children and families;
        (6) a parent with lived experience in the child
    welfare system;
        (7) a former youth in care with lived experience in
    the child welfare system; and
        (8) a member of an organization or office that
    represents children in legal abuse and neglect
    proceedings.
    The Advisory Board shall be present with the Bias-Free
Review Team for all case reviews for the purpose of ensuring
that the Review Team executes bias-free removals in accordance
with this Act. The Advisory Board shall not be responsible for
any decision making.
    (j) The Department shall adopt the written protocols
developed by the steering committee.
    (k) Criteria for determining success. The pilot program
shall be considered successful and expanded statewide if it is
implemented with fidelity and the evaluation reveals that
disproportionality of BIPOC children is reduced by the end of
the pilot program. The pilot program shall not be expanded
statewide if the evaluation reveals that the bias-free removal
process did not reduce disproportionality.
    (l) The Department shall adopt rules, policies, and
procedures necessary to implement this Act with the assistance
of the steering committee. The Department shall present
findings of the evaluation to the General Assembly on a yearly
basis, with the first report due on January 1, 2025. After year
3 of the pilot program, the Department shall determine the
need to expand the pilot program statewide, if data shows an
impact on disproportionality, and shall provide a
justification for or against statewide expansion. The pilot
program does not create a private cause of action in case there
is a problem with the application of the bias-free removal
process.
 
    Section 30. Repealer. This Act is repealed on January 1,
2027.
 
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 6/10/2022