OPG Appellate Developments
OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN FILES AMICUS BRIEF WITH THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
IN CAMRETA v. GREENE
Concerned because the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had interpreted the Fourth Amendment in a way that could harm children and impede child protection investigations, the Office of the Public Guardian filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Camreta v. Greene, 131 S. Ct. 2020 (2011). The Ninth Circuit had held that interviewing a suspected child abuse victim at school without a warrant or parental consent violated the Fourth Amendment.
The case arose in Oregon. Child protection officials received a report raising suspicion that nine-year-old S.G. and another child were being sexually abused by S.G.’s father. A child protection case worker and a sheriff’s deputy interviewed S.G. at her school. Based on the interview and other evidence, child protection officials sought custody of S.G. and her sister. The child protection case was ultimately dismissed, but the father pled guilty in criminal court to fondling the other child, the son of a friend. S.G.’s mother sued the child protection case worker and the deputy in federal court, alleging that the school interview violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the mother and the child.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon dismissed the lawsuit, finding no constitutional violation. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that an interview with a possible child abuse victim at a public school without a warrant or parental consent violated the Fourth Amendment.
The parties' briefs focused on the interests of the parents, public school officials, child protection agencies and law enforcement. To provide the Court with a brief analyzing how the case might impact children during child protection investigations, the Public Guardian gathered scenarios, drawn from real children’s cases, to illustrate how requiring parental consent or a warrant could endanger children. The Public Guardian filed his brief as amicus curiae in support of neither party and suggested reversal. The Public Guardian argued that the Ninth Circuit erred in ruling that an interview of a possible child abuse victim without a warrant or parental consent automatically violates the Fourth Amendment.
Because the Ninth Circuit’s approach would impede investigations and endanger children unnecessarily, the Public Guardian suggested that the Court should forego a strict warrant requirement and instead implement the reasonableness test set forth in New Jersey v. TLO, 469 U.S. 325 (1985), and Illinois v. Lidster, 540 U.S. 419 (2004). The Public Guardian argued that requiring a warrant, exigent circumstances, or parental consent for state authorities to interview a suspected child abuse victim would make it more difficult for the child to safely disclose abuse, infringe on the child's right to safety, and impact the government's compelling interest in protecting children.
The Public Guardian also gathered social science research on best practice guidelines about how to best interview suspected child abuse victims. These best practices not only increase the accuracy of child abuse investigations and decrease the trauma suffered by the possible victim, but serve the compelling state interest in reducing the long-term negative impact of child abuse on society.
The Public Guardian believes that his brief provided the Court with an important perspective on a child's individual right to safety, as well as the critically important role that a child's opportunity to speak candidly to child protection investigators and law enforcement plays in the practical protection of abused and neglected children.
On May 26, 2011, the United States Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s ruling addressing the merits of the Fourth Amendment issue. Having granted certiorari to consider whether the Ninth Circuit’s constitutional ruling could be reviewed notwithstanding that the Court of Appeals ruled in the favor of the child protection investigator and the sheriff’s deputy on qualified immunity grounds, the Supreme Court answered this question affirmatively. The Supreme Court concluded that S.G., having moved “across country and becoming an adult,” no longer had an ongoing interest in the dispute, so the case lacked the “concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of the issues.” The majority stated that this “happenstance” of mootness should not deprive the child protection investigator from his right to challenge the Ninth Circuit’s warrant requirement, so vacatur was warranted.
Regarding the kinds of problems that can arise when courts recognize new constitutional rights as clearly established, the majority opinion cautioned, “In general, courts should think hard, and then think hard again, before turning small cases into large ones.”
For full text of the Public Guardian's amicus brief, click here.
For the full text of the Supreme Court’s opinion, click here.
Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Decisions
The following are summaries of recent decisions from the Illinois Supreme Court and the First District Appellate Court in cases where the Public Guardian represented the child(ren) or ward in the trial court and on appeal, or where the Public Guardian filed a friend of the court brief. At any given time, the Public Guardian has multiple appeals pending from all three divisions.
Illinois Supreme Court
In re I. H., 238 Ill. 2d 430 (2010): The Public Guardian wrote a friend of the court brief In re I.H., an Illinois Supreme Court case addressing whether Section 2-18(4)(c) of the Juvenile Court Act (JCA) applies to temporary custody hearings. Under Section 2-18(4)(c), “[p]revious statements made by the minor relating to any allegations of abuse or neglect shall be admissible in evidence. However, no such statement, if uncorroborated and not subject to cross-examination, shall be sufficient in itself to support a finding of abuse or neglect.” (emphasis added). This case involved four year-old Marifer a/k/a Maria H. and her brother Ivan H. In September 2006, Maria’s grandmother took her to the police station where she alleged that the mother’s live-in boyfriend sexually abused her. The DCFS hotline was called and DCFS investigated the allegation. The DCFS worker told the mother to not allow her boyfriend to have contact with the children. However, the mother then took the children to her paramour’s apartment and told the investigator to call her attorney. Previously, in January 2006, Maria alleged that the paramour had sexually abused her, but those allegations were unfounded. Based on the testimony of the DCP worker, the trial court found probable cause and urgent and immediate necessity at the temporary custody hearing. The petitions alleged sex abuse, and neglect due to the mother’s refusal to follow the safety plan. At trial, Maria did not testify, and the trial court did not find that she was sexually abused. However, the trial court did find that the children were neglected due to the fact that the mother did not follow the safety plan. After disposition, the mother appealed. On appeal, the Second District found that Maria’s statements at the temporary custody hearing were uncorroborated under Section 2-18(4)(c) of the JCA and reversed the temporary custody order. The trial court also reversed the finding of neglect at adjudication. The State filed a petition for leave to appeal which was allowed, and our office and the Cook County State’s Attorney each filed a separate friend of the court brief. The Supreme Court found that Section 2-18(4)(c) did not apply to temporary custody hearings under Section 2-10 of the JCA, and that hearsay statements of children did not need to be corroborated at temporary custody. This case is important because it confirms that a lower burden of proof may to be used at the very beginning of a case.
For the full text of the opinion, click here
In re Estate of Wilson, 238 Ill. 2d 519 (2010): The Public Guardian filed a friend of the court brief in In re Estate of Wilson, an Illinois Supreme Court case addressing whether a petition for substitution of judge (SOJ) for cause must be heard by a different judge if the petition is insufficient on its face. The facts in this case are unfortunately common in financial exploitation cases. Here, 86- year-old Mary Ann Wilson was being financially exploited by Karen Bailey, the daughter-in- law of Ms. Wilson’s elderly companion. Ms. Wilson and her companion were also being medically neglected. Ms. Wilson’s cousin, Arnetta Williams, asked to be appointed her guardian. At the hearing to reinstate Karen Bailey’s power of attorney (POA), the trial court asked her pointed questions about the many thousands of dollars that were missing from Ms. Wilson’s accounts. The trial court expressed incredulity at some of Karen Bailey’s answers as to where Ms. Wilson’s money was. At her subsequent deposition, Bailey admitted that Ms. Wilson’s money was used to pay Bailey’s cell phone bill, auto insurance, attorneys fees for her divorce, an addition to Bailey’s home, funeral expenses, furniture, clothing, and a truck for Bailey’s husband.1 Four months after the hearing on the POA, Bailey brought a petition for SOJ for cause, alleging that the trial judge was predisposed not to believe her. The petition was not verified by an affidavit. The original trial judge held a hearing on the petition and denied it. The First District reversed the case, holding that a different judge should have heard the SOJ petition. The majority criticized the trial court for its vigorous questioning of Bailey. Ms. Wilson’s guardian, Arnetta Williams, filed a petition for leave to appeal that was granted. Our office filed a friend of the court brief, focusing on the unique duties of a trial judge in a guardianship proceeding. The Supreme Court found that the SOJ petition did not contain an affidavit and it failed to allege a legally sufficient basis for a finding of cause. The Court found that a trial judge can deny an SOJ for cause if the petition fails to meet threshold requirements. The threshold requirements include: 1) when the petition was filed; 2) whether the petition was verified; and 3) whether the cause alleged came from an extrajudicial source. The Court reversed the First District and affirmed the trial court’s denial of the SOJ. The Court also agreed with the argument in our friend of the court brief that the role of a judge in a guardianship proceeding differs from the traditional role of a judge in a civil or criminal proceeding. In a guardianship proceeding, the judge should seek out information to protect the vulnerable ward.
For the full text of the opinion, click here
Illinois Appellate Court
In re M.H., 2011 IL App (1st Dist) 110196, involves a four-year old Native American child. Moriah was placed with her foster mother shortly after her birth in 2007. The Tribe’s social worker had approved of this placement. Moriah’s mother and father were addicted to heroin. Moriah was over two years old when her mother first visited her. Moriah’s parents’ whereabouts were unknown for most of the case. Sixteen months after receiving notice of the proceedings, the mother’s Tribe sought to remove the case to the tribal court. The trial judge denied the motion based on its lateness and the undue hardship traveling to Northern Wisconsin would cause the parties and witnesses. The court later conducted a termination of parental rights hearing. The trial court found that the parents were unfit because they did not timely address their drug addiction and did not visit consistently with their daughter. Also, in compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, the trial court also found that it was in Moriah’s best interests to terminate parental rights so she could be freed for adoption. Moriah’s foster mother took her to the Tribe and continually exposes Moriah to Native American cultural events. The appellate court affirmed the denial of the transfer to the tribal court, and affirmed the termination of parental rights. Moriah is in the process of being adopted into the only family she has ever known.
For the full text of the opinion, click here
In re Vicente G., Reyna G. and America G., 408 Ill. App. 3d 678 (1st Dist. 2011): In In re Vicente G., the children appealed the trial court’s order that granted DCFS’s motion to terminate its wardship and close the children’s cases. On appeal, the children claimed that the court erred when it granted DCFS’s motion without making written findings that the termination of guardianship and closure of the case were in the children’s best interest. The children also contended that DCFS’ procedural rule did not provide a valid basis to terminate DCFS’s guardianship. DCFS took protective custody of the children in December 2005 when America alleged that the putative father fondled her vagina. The court made adjudicatory findings that the children were neglected because they lived in an injurious environment. At the dispositional hearing, the court determined that it was in the children’s best interest to be made wards of the court. The court also found that the mother and putative father were unable only. The putative father never appeared during any of the proceedings. The mother participated in parenting classes and other services. The court eventually granted her motion for unsupervised day visits and then unsupervised overnight visits. Several months later at a permanency planning hearing, the court heard testimony that Reyna told the caseworker that the putative father was in the mother’s home. The worker visited the home several times but did not find evidence that the putative father was there. She did however, discover that the mother had given birth to another child. The infant’s father was present in the mother’s home when the children visited her. The agency suspended the mother’s overnight visits but maintained the unsupervised day visits. The court was concerned about outstanding issues of services for the children and ordered the case into court for monthly status hearings to monitor progress in services. The court soon learned that the mother and the children disappeared during a visit in November 2007. The court issued child protection warrants for the children. The court also held the mother in indirect civil contempt of court and issued a bench warrant for her arrest. DCFS tried to locate the mother and the children. After a number of status hearings, DCFS filed a motion to terminate guardianship and close the children’s cases. The Assistant Public Guardian argued against the DCFS motion. She claimed that if the court granted the DCFS motion, the child protection warrants for the children and any other motions would terminate. The Assistant Public Guardian further contended that custody of the children would revert to the mother if the court vacated DCFS’s guardianship. Moreover, the court would need to make written findings that case closure was in the children’s best interest. DCFS argued that it made reasonable efforts to find the mother and the children. In addition, DCFS claimed that it could not function as the children’s guardian because the children were absent for three years. The trial court proceeded to grant DCFS’s motion and closed the case. On appeal, the children argued that the trial court did not comply with the statutory requirement of 705 ILCS 405/2-31(2)(LEXIS 2011) of the Juvenile Court Act. The appellate court agreed with the children’s argument and stated that court failed to consider whether vacating DCFS’s guardianship and case closure were in the children’s best interest. The trial court also did not conduct a hearing, order an investigation or make any written findings to support its final order. The appellate court also rejected DCFS’s reliance upon its administrative procedural rule to support its position. The court stated that it was the court’s responsibility to decide when to terminate guardianship. The court finally stated “the best interest of the minors must always prevail over DCFS’s internal management rules.” 2011 Ill. App. LEXIS 272 at *9. The appellate court remanded the case for further proceedings.
For full text of opinion, click here
In re Anaya J.G., 403 Ill. App. 3d 875 (1st Dist. 2010): In In re Anaya J.G., the First District affirmed the trial court’s order terminating the mother’s parental rights. The opinion is notable primarily for its holding that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) notice provisions weren’t violated. Four-year-old Anaya had been born substance-exposed, had special needs, and was in foster care from birth while her mother disappeared for long periods of time. The mother occasionally engaged in services but relapsed, and only sporadically visited Anaya. The trial court terminated both parents’ rights, finding the mother unfit on numerous grounds. Mother’s main issue on appeal was related to ICWA. Father testified that the mother’s mom was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian – information he claimed he got from the mother – even though the mother testified only that there was Cherokee blood on her mom’s side of the family. More importantly, both parents testified that they themselves weren’t members of any tribe, and neither parent said under oath that Anaya was a member of a tribe. The trial court did not order that notice of the pending Juvenile Court case be sent to the Cherokee or any other tribe. On appeal, the mother claimed that the trial court violated ICWA because the court had reason to know that Anaya was “an Indian child” and should have ordered notice sent to the Cherokee nation. The appellate court disagreed, saying the “bare assertions” of Cherokee status weren’t sufficient. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s ruling that termination of parental rights and adoption was in Anaya’s best interest.
For full text of opinion, click here
In re C.E. and R.E., 406 Ill. App. 3d 97 (1st Dist. 2010): Here, the mother appealed the trial court’s finding that she was unfit and the termination of her parental rights. The trial court found the mother unfit by clear and convincing evidence based on her failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest or concern or responsibility for her children’s welfare, failure to protect her children and her failure to make reasonable progress toward the return of her children. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s unfitness finding and the termination of the mother’s parental rights. When the appellate court reviewed the finding that the mother failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility, it referred to the mother’s failure to attend any of her daughters’ medical and dental appointments or school meetings. This was despite the fact that the caseworker provided her with bus fare for her transportation. In addition, while the mother did visit with her daughters, she was not very affectionate or positive when she interacted with the girls. She was quite disengaged from R.E. and focused most of her attention on C.E. Mother participated in several parenting capacity assessments and worked with a parenting coach. Even though the mother cooperated with the services, she did not internalize the parenting interventions and could not sustain motivation or energy for the sessions. Mother posed a continuing moderate risk for mistreating and neglecting her children. Ultimately, the appellate court said despite therapy and parenting coaching, the mother could not safely and effectively parent her daughters. The sisters were adopted in February 2011.
For full text of opinion, click here
In re Alexis H., 401 Ill. App. 3d 543 (1st Dist. 2010): In re Alexis H. is an appeal of an adjudication order finding Alexis and her siblings Raymond and Levonte abused and neglected. Here the three children and their parents were often homeless, and lived at various addresses. The children made outcries of sexual abuse by two separate men, Shorty and Rakeem. The State only went forward on the allegations that Shorty had sexually abused Raymond and Alexis, and the mother claimed that the State used the allegations of sexual abuse by Rakeem to improperly bolster the children’s out of court statements. The appellate court found that the mother also used the allegations against Rakeem to attack the children’s credibility. Moreover, the trial court did not err in considering evidence pertaining to Rakeem to determine whether the children were neglected or at risk for harm. The appellate court rejected the mother’s claim that the allegations of sexual abuse by Shorty were not corroborated. The appellate court found sufficient corroboration because Alexis had an abnormal hymen, and because she and Raymond described sexual acts in a detailed manner that would be unexpected in children their age, and because Raymond and Alexis corroborated each other. Mother also claimed that Shorty was not a member of the household so his actions could not be considered sexual abuse under the statute. Noting that the Juvenile Court Act does not define the term “household,” the court looked to the definition in the Domestic Violence Act and found that the children either resided with or were members of a household they shared with Shorty. The court also affirmed the findings of abuse and neglect based on substance abuse and medical corroboration of marks and scars found on the children’s bodies. This case allows the juvenile court to protect children like Raymond and Alexis who may be homeless or who not have a permanent address.
For full text of opinion, click here
In re S.D., 394 Ill. App. 3d 992 (1st Dist. 2009): This is a case of first impression, addressing the independent basis provision of 705 ILCS 405/2-27(1)(d), as amended effective June 1, 2008. Under Section 2-27(1)(d), a court may commit a child adjudicated delinquent or charged with a crime to DCFS custody if an independent basis of abuse, neglect or dependency exists. An independent basis exists when the allegations or adjudication of abuse, neglect, or dependency do not arise from the same facts, incident, or circumstances which gave rise to a charge or adjudication of delinquency. Here, in 1993, the trial court found two-year-old Sam abused and neglected due to the physical abuse of the mother's paramour. In March 2000, the trial court placed Sam in subsidized guardianship with his non-relative foster mother. In 2007, Sam's mother filed a motion to vacate the private guardianship. In January 2008, with the agreement of the State and GAL, the court returned Sam home to his mother under an order of protection. However, in May 2008, a report indicated that Sam had been charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly stealing an iPod on a bus. The report also indicated that Sam had been previously psychiatrically hospitalized and was currently at a psychiatric hospital. Several status hearings were held where the judge heard that Sam's mother could not meet his needs. Sam eventually pled guilty to aggravated robbery, and was sentenced to mental health probation. The trial court found that an independent basis of neglect existed under amended section 2-27(1)(d) of the JCA to place 17-year-old Sam in DCFS guardianship. DCFS appealed. The First District found that an independent basis of neglect existed that did not arise "from the same facts and circumstances which gave rise to the criminal charge." The court rejected DCFS' argument that the 2008 modified dispositional order that returned Sam to his mother rendered the 1993 adjudication moot. The court concluded that based on the 1993 adjudication of abuse and neglect, Sam "had an independent basis and therefore fit into the exception by which a minor charged with a crime could still be placed in DCFS' guardianship." This case allows teens like Sam to get the help and services they need.as a dependent child. Instead, it found that the mother did not want LaChristal in her home; that the mother acted affirmatively to keep LaChristal out of her home; and that LaChristal was in the State's care because the mother found her to be an embarrassment and desired to be rid of her.
For full text of opinion, click here
The Litigation Unit brings damages, declaratory and injunctive actions in state and federal court on behalf of the Public Guardian's clients. The following are summaries of some of the Litigation Unit's cases.
Sharonda B., et al. v. Herrick
A DCFS caseworker placed four children with an unlicensed, non-relative foster parent without getting the required background checks. The foster parent and her adult sons had criminal records including convictions for weapons and drugs. Although the caseworker was required to visit the children monthly to ensure their safety, he never visited the home while the children lived there. One night, the foster parent came home from a drug binge and murdered the youngest child, Coreese. The autopsy revealed that Coreese's body was covered with old and new marks, scars and bruises, including a gaping gash in the center of his forehead, burns to his ears, chipped teeth and missing fingernails and toenails. The medical examiner counted nearly 400 injuries to Coreese. The Public Guardian secured a seven-figure settlement on behalf of Coreese's three siblings.
The Public Guardian negotiated a settlement on behalf of a group of young men who were residents of a mental health facility. Staff members at the facility failed to supervise the boys. As a result, several of the boys were sexually assaulted. The Public Guardian settled the matter for $1.5 million, including funds deposited in an educational trust that several of the young men have used for college.
Mable A., et al. v. Woodard
Three young children were placed with a relative and her boyfriend, a convicted felon. The DCFS caseworker claimed that he visited the children monthly, but the evidence showed that he visited no more than once or twice in the year that the children lived there. The foster parents repeatedly tortured and starved the children. Two-year-old Carolyn had deep injuries to her feet as the result of repeated beatings with a hairbrush. She was unable to walk and required skin graft surgery to the bottoms of her feet. After a trial in federal court, a jury awarded the children $3.3 million in damages against the DCFS caseworker. The parties later settled the matter.
Apostol, et al. v. Aunt Martha's
The Public Guardian filed a lawsuit against a social-service agency that placed two children in the foster home of a convicted drug dealer and then failed to visit the boys on a regular basis. One child, William, lived in the home only five weeks before he burned to death in a bathtub full of scalding water. Develle, age one, was found to have extensive open wounds to his back, feet and chin, and bald patches on his head. Both boys were severely malnourished. In September 2003, the Public Guardian secured a high six-figure settlement for William's estate and Develle.
In March 2005, the Public Guardian settled a case against a social-service agency whose foster parents were caught on a neighbor's "nanny cam" abusing Jesus. The tape also revealed that the agency's transportation aide was in the home during one of the beatings. The Public Guardian secured a six-figure settlement for Jesus.
Aisha W., et al. v. Aunt Martha's, et al.
Three-year-old Aisha and her six-year-old brother Xavier were placed in a non-relative foster home. The Public Guardian alleged that during that time, the worker failed to visit the children on a monthly basis, failed to speak to the children outside the presence of their foster parents and failed to provide the children with social services. As a result of these failures, the agency and caseworker never discovered that Aisha and Xavier were being horribly abused, neglected, starved and, in the case of Aisha, sexually assaulted, by their foster parents. The foster parents pled guilty to aggravated battery to a child and served time in prison. At the civil trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defendants. The Public Guardian won a reversal of the jury's verdict in the appellate court. The parties later reached a six-figure settlement.
Jennifer Y. v. Velazquez, et al.
The Public Guardian sued two DCFS licensing workers, alleging that they allowed Jennifer to be placed with an abusive foster parent. Less than six weeks after placement, Jennifer was rushed to the hospital. She was non-responsive and actively seizing, with bruises on her face and head. Doctors concluded that Jennifer's injuries were the result of deliberate and violent shaking. As a result of the abuse, Jennifer now has permanent mental retardation and is partially paralyzed. While her cognitive damage is permanent, it is as yet unclear to what extent, if any, she will regain the use of her left side. Jennifer now suffers from a seizure disorder that is a direct consequence of the abuse. The parties settled the case in June 2008 in the six-figure range.
Harris v. Reed, et al.
The Public Guardian filed suit in federal court against a DCFS caseworker and a private social-service agency on behalf of Charlie C., a disabled twenty-year-old young man with the cognitive abilities of a two-year-old child. DCFS placed Charlie in a group home. While residing at the group home, Charlie was severely burned over almost half his body after staff members left him unsupervised in a bathtub full of hot water. The Public Guardian settled the case in the high-six figure range in 2006.
James B., et al. v. Youth Empire Service, et al.
In January 2003, officers from the Chicago Police Department's gang unit raided the foster home of James B. and Katelin D. Not only did officers find the expected stash of guns and drugs, they found something that they did not expect: three-year-old James chained by his neck to a bed with a sheet over him. The Public Guardian subsequently learned that the children were abused, neglected and starved in the foster home. The foster parents' son, who was the target of the raid, had a criminal history that should have prevented foster home licensure. The foster mother was convicted of two counts of unlawful restraint. The Public Guardian sued the two agencies responsible for licensing and monitoring the children in the home and the foster parents. The parties settled the case in the high six-figure range in mid-2007.
A private social-service agency ignored several red flags that would have prevented a foster home from being licensed. The agency licensed the home anyway and placed Louis there. While in the home, the foster mother held Louis' hands under scalding water because he had been "bad." Louis suffered second- and third-degree burns to his hands. He has lifelong scarring and discoloration on each arm between his wrist and elbow and emotional trauma due to the abuse. The foster mother was convicted of aggravated battery and was sentenced to five years in prison. In September 2008, the parties reached a mid six-figure settlement.
Harris v. A.
Lawrence A. brutally murdered his wife. The Public Guardian filed a wrongful death and survival action against Mr. A. on behalf of the couple's two young daughters, now wards of the juvenile court. In July 2009, the Public Guardian secured a $2,000,000 judgment against Mr. A.
Aristotle P., et al. v. McEwen
The Public Guardian acts as class counsel on a consent decree it reached in a federal lawsuit against DCFS on behalf of DCFS wards. The purpose of the lawsuit was to ensure that when sibling groups enter the child-welfare system, they are placed together and, if that is not possible, that they receive at least two, two-hour sibling visits per month. The parties developed several policies to promote joint sibling placement and sibling visitation, including:
- DCFS created a case assignment protocol that increased the placement of new sibling groups together from 25-30% to the current level of nearly 100%.
- DCFS instituted financial sanctions against private agencies that fall below a certain level of compliance with the sibling visitation. So far, DCFS has sanctioned more than $100,000 against private agencies. The number of children visiting their siblings regularly has doubled since the sanctions began.
- DCFS agreed to pay transportation subsidies to foster parents. Now a foster parent can receive up to $150 per month to transport children and supervise sibling visitation and an additional $100 to host an overnight visitation.
The Honorable Charles R. Norgle, Sr. monitors the decree in federal court.
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|New Policy & Legislation
Recently passed laws of interest to those representing disabled adults and abused & neglected children in Illinois.
Read more Adult Juvenile
|OPG Appellate Developments
OPG files Amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Camreta v. Greene. Read more
Recent Appellate and Supreme Court decisions Read more
|Youth Advocacy &
Important information for current and former clients. Read more