In 2016, Illinois enacted the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights Act, providing rights for children placed in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”). Adopted under the official title of PA 99-0344, the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights Act aims to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all children placed in foster homes under DCFS care. This Act provides 28 distinct rights for all DCFS foster children in Illinois.
In summary, the 28 guaranteed rights all tie together to ensure that children and young adults placed in foster care with DCFS have a healthy, both physically and mentally, upbringing while separated from their biological parents. These rights show a shift to the transparency of official proceedings and plans for a child’s life. These rights give a child a voice in deciding his/her own future, whether that be permanent placement with a family, what type of medical treatment they receive, or where and how to go to college.
Several of these rights guarantee that a child be respected and be able to grow up in a home surrounded by love rather than fear. A child under this Act will also be provided a right to have personal space free of intrusion by others, as well as a right not to be abused in any way. Numerous rights provided by the act also serve to protect a child’s biological family. These rights encourage relationships with the original parents and siblings and others outside of the foster family circle. In furtherance, these rights include the ability to practice the religion of the biological family, even if that religion is different from that practiced by the foster family. In sum, the Act supports a child’s right to create and enjoy his/her own life in whichever healthy way they choose, despite the turmoil that may be present in their past.
It is important for all parties involved to be aware of these rights, including the child, biological parents and foster parents to ensure that the child receives the full enjoyment of these newly enacted rights.
Regardless of whether a child is under DCFS’ care, many of these rights are universal wherein they can apply to children who are being represented by a Child Representative and/or Guardian Ad Litem, children who are currently under the care of a relative, and children currently residing with only one biological parent due to divorce or separation.
If you believe your child is not receiving the rights guaranteed by this Act whether they are in the care of DCFS, a foster home or in the care of a third party call Kiswani Law, P.C. now at 708-262-9247 for more information.