Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0260
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Full Text of HR0260  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. §
31901) "recognizes the special relationship between the United
4States and the Indian tribes and their members and the Federal
5responsibility to Indian people"; the intent of the Act is to
6"protect the best interest of Indian children and to promote
7stability and security of Indian tribes and families by
8establishing minimum Federal standards for the removal of
9Indian children from their families and the placement of such
10children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the
11unique values of Indian culture, and by providing for
12assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of child and
13family service programs". (25 U.S.C. § 1902); and
14    WHEREAS, The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) promulgated a
15regulation "to govern the funding for, and the administration
16of Indian child and family service programs as authorized by
17the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978" (25 C.F.R. § 23.1)to
18ensure consistency, efficacy, and to avoid any delay in child
19welfare proceedings involving Native American families; and
20    WHEREAS, Together the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and
21the BIA ICWA Rule promote the identity of Native American
22children and their connection with their tribe and afford
23extra protections to Native American children involved in the



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1child welfare system by requiring the child welfare system to
2make active efforts, follow placement preference with the
3tribe, and other additional heightened legal standards
4required throughout the life of the case; and
5    WHEREAS, "Active efforts" means affirmative, active,
6thorough, and timely efforts intended primarily to maintain or
7reunite an Indian child with his or her family, which, to the
8maximum extent possible, should be provided in a manner
9consistent with the prevailing social and cultural conditions
10and way of life of the Indian child's Tribe and should be
11conducted in partnership with the Indian child and the Indian
12child's parents, extended family members, Indian custodians,
13and Tribe (25 CFR § 23.2.); and
14    WHEREAS, The BIA ICWA Rule mandates that when a Native
15American child is placed in foster care, placement preference
16must be given in descending order to placement of the child
17with: (1) A member of the Indian child's extended family, (2)
18Other members of the Indian child's Tribe, or (3) Other Indian
19families (25 CFR § 23.130); and
20    WHEREAS, The Department of Children and Family Services
21(DCFS) Procedure 307, Indian Child Welfare Services, "outlines
22how the Department shall, in conjunction with Indian
23communities, organizations and agencies, provide a method of



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1early identification of Indian children and their families in
2order to provide child welfare services that assure all the
3additional protections afforded by the Indian Child Welfare
4Act"; and
5    WHEREAS, DCFS Procedure 307 created an "Indian Child
6Welfare Specialist (ICWA Specialist)" that defines the role as
7"an enrolled member of a Native American Indian Tribe" who is
8"familiar with the Native American community, participates in
9community outreach, and is a primary contact person for an
10ICWA case who assists and supports permanency staff regarding
11ICWA compliance in child custody proceedings"; and
12    WHEREAS, Until 2018, DCFS employed two Indian Child
13Welfare Specialists to manage the various ICWA cases
14identified throughout the State of Illinois, both of whom were
15enrolled members of Native American Indian Tribes; and
16    WHEREAS, Since 2018, the DCFS Indian Child Welfare
17Specialist positions have been vacant, and when DCFS recently
18posted positions to hire two ICWA Specialists, the requirement
19that the Specialists be a member of a Native America Indian
20Tribe was changed to a mere preference; and
21    WHEREAS, The Indian Child Welfare Specialists are
22responsible for: (1) developing procedural guidelines to



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1determine DCFS compliance with ICWA, (2) determining
2children's eligibility under ICWA, (3) facilitating
3communication throughout the life of the case between
4representatives from the child's tribe, DCFS, and the courts,
5(4) identifying community support, organizations, programs,
6and activities to maintain the American Indian child's
7culture, language, and traditions, which are required under
8ICWA, (5) maintaining and developing connections with the
9Native America community, (6) recruiting and supporting Native
10American foster homes, (7) providing ICWA trainings, and (8)
11facilitation of the Illinois Child Welfare Advisory Council;
13    WHEREAS, These responsibilities have been ignored since
142018, and the ICWA youth in care and their families have not
15had the advocacy, services, or support needed to protect their
16interests and rights and, as a result, have suffered; and
17    WHEREAS, There has been almost no public information
18offered about DCFS compliance with the ICWA and BIA ICWA Rule
19or implementation of Procedure 307 or whether there is any
20oversight process to ensure accountability and compliance so
21that the needs of Native American youth in care are being
22addressed by DCFS; and
23    WHEREAS, The General Assembly requires reliable



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1information to guide funding decisions, perform its oversight,
2and make sound legislative and administrative recommendations;
3therefore, be it
6the Auditor General is directed to conduct a performance audit
7of the Department of Children and Family Services compliance
8with its obligations to protect the Indian Children in care
9and their families; and be it further
10    RESOLVED, That the audit shall include, but not be limited
11to, examining the operations and management of the Department
12of Children and Family Services and its contractors to perform
13its duties in accordance with ICWA, the BIA Regulations, and
14DCFS procedure 307 "Indian Child Welfare Services" as follows:
15        (1) The Department of Children and Family Services'
16    implementation of and adherence to The Indian Child
17    Welfare Act of 1978;
18        (2) The Department of Children and Family Services'
19    implementation of and adherence to the Bureau of Indian
20    Affairs Rule;
21        (3) The Department of Children and Family Services'
22    implementation of and adherence to Procedure 307;
23        (4) The Department of Children and Family Services'
24    contractors' implementation of adherence to Procedure 307;



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1        (5) How and with what frequency the Department of
2    Children and Family Services and its contractors'
3    employees are trained on the Indian Child Welfare Act, the
4    Bureau of Indian Affairs regulations, and the requirements
5    of Procedure 307, and whether the training is sufficient
6    to demonstrate appropriate application to field work;
7        (6) How employee and contract oversight ensure
8    accountability and corrective actions;
9        (7) The method by which the Department of Children and
10    Family Services assesses, monitors, and acts to make
11    certain its contracted providers have adopted Procedure
12    307 policies;
13        (8) The methods by which information about Indian
14    Child eligibility is sought, the format and locations in
15    which this information is maintained, and the practices
16    utilized for privacy protections;
17        (9) Actions taken by the Department of Children and
18    Family Services and its contractors in licensing to
19    recruit and support Native American foster homes;
20        (10) The process by which the Department of Children
21    and Family Services ensures that Indian children or youth
22    are placed in homes that comply with placement preference
23    as outlined in ICWA and the BIA regulations;
24        (11) The current gap in placement and service capacity
25    to meet the needs and efforts made to recruit Native
26    American foster homes; and



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1        (12) Amounts appropriated or allocated from any
2    source, including grants, for the purposes of compliance
3    with ICWA, the BIA Regulations and DCFS Procedures 307,
4    the amounts actually spent, and the purpose of each
5    expenditure during fiscal years 2018 through 2021; and be
6    it further
7    RESOLVED, That the audit include, but not be limited to,
8the following determinations as they pertain to children (up
9to the age of 21) in the care of the Department of Children and
10Family Services in calendar years 2019 and 2020:
11        (1) The number of youth in care identified as an
12    Indian Child or eligible for membership in an Indian
13    tribe;
14        (2) For each youth in subsection (1), the length of
15    stay in out-of-home care, case permanency goals, frequency
16    of sibling visitation, as applicable;
17        (3) For each youth in subsection (1), the number,
18    type, and duration of each placement designated relative
19    foster home, tribal foster home, group home, residential
20    treatment center, detention or correctional setting,
21    psychiatric hospital, transitional living program, or
22    shelter home, whether and how the youth in care and the
23    tribe participate in placement planning and determination,
24    whether and how tribal placement preference was considered
25    for placement selection, and reasons for placement



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1    disruptions, if applicable;
2        (4) For each youth in subsection (1), the number of
3    each incident categorized as running away, contact with
4    police or the justice system, crisis hospitalization,
5    hospitalization beyond medical necessity, reported victim
6    of assault, school-related disciplinary infractions,
7    school-related disciplinary infractions, school-related
8    bullying or harassment, removal from a placement at the
9    request of a provider or caregiver, removal from a
10    placement at the request of the youth, subject of abuse or
11    neglect allegations while in out-of-home care, and
12    detained in a correctional setting beyond release due to
13    lack of identified placement;
14        (5) For each youth in subsection (1), were
15    opportunities provided to engage in normalcy activities
16    (e.g., participation in activities typical of their peer
17    and age group) consistent with the child's tribal culture,
18    language, and traditions;
19        (6) Whether the data findings in (2), (3), (4), and
20    (5) differ from that of the general population of youth in
21    care or whether the data differs based on the geographic
22    placement of the youth in care; and
23        (7) The number of providers designated as clinically
24    appropriate to provide housing or services to youth
25    identified as members or eligible for membership in a
26    Native American tribe and the number of youth utilizing



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1    those providers for services or supports; and be it
2    further
3    RESOLVED, That the Department of Children and Family
4Services shall cooperate fully and promptly with the Auditor
5General's Office in conducting this audit; and be it further
6    RESOLVED, That the Auditor General commence this audit as
7soon as possible to distribute the report upon completion in
8accordance with Section 3-14 of the Illinois State Auditing