Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB3720
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Full Text of SB3720  102nd General Assembly


Sen. Karina Villa

Filed: 2/9/2022





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend Senate Bill 3720 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
4    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program Act.
6    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds that the
7University of Illinois' Children and Family Research Center
8determined in its October 2021 report, "Racial
9Disproportionality in the Illinois Child Welfare System",
11        (1) In 2020, compared to their percentage in the
12    general child population, black children were
13    overrepresented in foster care having made up 16.4% of the
14    general child population, but accounting for 38.5% of
15    protective custodies.
16        (2) In comparison, white children were proportionally



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1    represented in foster care having made up 52.8% of the
2    general child population, but accounting for 48.8% of
3    protective custodies. Hispanic children were
4    under-represented having made up 24.9% of the general
5    child population, but accounting for 11.5% of protective
6    custodies.
7    Section 10. Purpose.
8    (a) In Illinois, and across the nation, some racial and
9ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in
10the child welfare system. This disproportionality could occur
11at 5 different decision points during a family's child welfare
13            (1) investigated child abuse/neglect (CAN)
14        reports;
15            (2) protective custodies;
16            (3) indicated CAN reports;
17            (4) post-investigation service provision; and
18            (5) timely exits from substitute care.
19    (b) The purpose of this Act is to:
20        (1) Require the Department of Children and Family
21    Services to establish a 3-year, Bias-Free Child Removal
22    Pilot Program for the purpose of promoting unbiased
23    decision-making in the child removal process, while
24    maintaining the safety of children and reducing risk, with
25    the goal of decreasing the overrepresentation of BIPOC



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1    children in out-of-home placements. This goal would be
2    achieved by convening a group of senior-level internal
3    staff members from the Department of Children and Family
4    Services who are from an area other than the pilot area to
5    (i) review removal decisions, absent specific demographic
6    information and (ii) determine whether removal of a child
7    is necessary to avoid imminent risk to his or her safety,
8    health, and well-being.
9        (2) Establish a pre-implementation steering committee
10    to:
11            (1) develop and implement the Bias-Free Removal
12        Pilot Program;
13            (2) recruit members for the Bias-Free Case Review
14        Team; and
15            (3) recruit members for the Bias-Free Child
16        Removal Advisory Board.
17        (3) Establish a Bias-Free Case Review Team consisting
18    of a child protection supervisor, an area administrator,
19    and a regional administrator from an area other than the
20    pilot area to: (i) review removal decisions absent
21    specific demographic information as provided in paragraph
22    (3) of subsection (e) of Section 25; and (ii) determine
23    whether removal of the child is necessary to avoid
24    imminent risk to his or her safety, health, and
25    well-being.
26        (4) Establish a Bias-Free Child Removal Advisory Board



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1    to monitor and oversee the Bias-Free Case Review Team and
2    ensure that the Bias-Free Case Review Team executes
3    bias-free removals in accordance with the provisions of
4    this Act.
5    Section 15. Definitions. As used in this Act:
6    "Bias-free" means to review a case file without the
7following identifying demographic information on the parent
8and child: gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location, and
9socio-economic status, which prevents a reader from inserting
10bias, implicit or explicit, into critical decisions such as
11removing a child from his or her family.
12    "BIPOC" means people who are members of the groups
13described in subparagraphs (a) through (e) of paragraph (A) of
14subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Business Enterprise for
15Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act.
16    "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
17    "Child welfare court personnel" means lawyers, judges,
18public-defenders, and guardians ad litem.
19    "Department" means the Department of Children and Family
21    "Evaluation design" means identifying an overall strategy
22for analyzing the effectiveness of a program to include
23outlining a distinct approach to formulating key outputs and
24outcomes, selecting an appropriate research method, and
25evaluating the outcomes of a program.



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1    "Immediate and urgent necessity" in accordance with
2Section 5 of the Abused and Neglected Child reporting Act,
3means (i) that there is a reason to believe that the child
4cannot be cared for at home or in the custody of the person
5responsible for the child's welfare without endangering the
6child's health or safety and (ii) that there is no time to
7apply for a court order under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987
8for temporary custody of the child.
9    "Lived experience" means a representation of the
10experiences of a person involved in the child welfare system,
11the knowledge and understanding that the person gains from
12these experiences, and the ability to understand the policies
13or guidelines of the Department.
14    "Program" or "pilot program" means the Bias-Free Child
15Removal Pilot Program.
16    "Review Team" means the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
17    Section 20. Program. The Department of Children and Family
18Services shall establish a 3-year Bias-Free Child Removal
19Pilot Program no later than January 1, 2024, for the purpose of
20promoting unbiased decision making in the child removal
21process. The pilot program shall be implemented in a field
22office located in Cook County, a field office located in
23Champaign County, and a field office located in St. Clair
24County. The purpose of promoting unbiased decision making in
25the child removal process shall be achieved by the identified



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1county using a bias-free child removal strategy when deciding
2whether a child should be removed from the custody of his or
3her parent or guardian, as specified.
4    By January 1, 2024, the steering committee established by
5the Department as provided in Section 25 shall develop the
6pilot program for the purpose of addressing racial
7disproportionality in the child welfare system. The pilot
8program shall be implemented for a period of no less than 3
9years in at least one office located in Cook County, one office
10located in Champaign County, and one office located in St.
11Clair County.
12    The Department shall on January 1, 2025, January 1, 2026,
13and January 1, 2027 submit to the General Assembly an
14evaluation report that details the pilot program's
15implementation and that provides an analysis of the pilot
16program's effect and impact on the removal rates of BIPOC
17children. The January 1, 2027 report shall be the final
18evaluation report submitted to the General Assembly by the
20    Section 25. Implementation.
21    (a) By January 1, 2023, the Department shall establish a
22pre-implementation steering committee consisting of an
23interdisciplinary, diverse group of child welfare
24professionals and advocates for the purpose of creating the
25Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program and the



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1pre-implementation plan for the pilot program. The steering
2committee shall be diverse in regard to the geographic
3location, race/ethnicity, gender, and profession and lived
4experience of committee members. As used in this Section,
5"lived experience" includes knowledge and understanding of
6Department processes and policies. The steering committee
7shall develop and oversee the implementation of the Bias-Free
8Case Review Team and bias-free removal process. Once
9established, the steering committee shall initiate
10implementation of the pilot program ensuring: (i)
11organizational readiness; (ii) adequate data collection and
12analysis; (iii) professional development and training for the
13staff; and (iv) adherence to existing rules and State laws
14concerning child safety. The steering committee shall include,
15but not be limited to, the following members:
16        (1) A parent with lived experience in the child
17    welfare system.
18        (2) A former youth in care with lived experience in
19    the child welfare system.
20        (3) A member of an organization or office that
21    represents children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
22        (4) A community-based organization that advocates for
23    parents' rights within the child welfare system.
24        (5) A public or private university responsible for
25    evaluating the pilot program.
26        (6) Three staff members from the Department, which



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1    shall include the Deputy Director of the Department's
2    Division of Child Protection, the Deputy Director of the
3    Department's Division of Race Equity Practice, and the
4    Deputy Director of the Department's Division of Intact
5    Services.
6        (7) A licensed attorney who has practiced within the
7    Illinois child welfare court system in a county
8    represented in the pilot program such as, but not limited
9    to, a public defender, an assistant state's attorney, a
10    guardian ad litem, or a judge.
11        (8) A member of a statewide organization that
12    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
13    children and families.
14    (b) By January 1, 2024, the steering committee shall
15establish the pilot program for the purpose of addressing
16racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. The
17pilot program shall be implemented for a period of no less than
183 years in at least one office located in Cook County, one
19office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
20St. Clair County.
21    (c) The steering committee shall develop a written plan
22for the pilot program, in accordance with the goals of this
23Act, that shall be adopted by a unanimous vote.
24    (d) The steering committee must include in the development
25of the pilot program the following:
26        (1) Three permanent Bias-Free Case Review Team members



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1    for each county with a pilot program. The Review Team
2    shall be diverse in regard to the members' geographic
3    location, race and ethnicity, and gender. All Review Team
4    members shall possess the knowledge, experience,
5    understanding, and training equivalent to that of a child
6    welfare caseworker or investigator, or higher. The Review
7    Team shall be made up of the following:
8            (A) one child protection supervisor;
9            (B) one area administrator; and
10            (C) one regional administrator.
11        (2) At least 4 alternate Review Team members who meet
12    the same criteria set forth in paragraph (1) to fill in if
13    or when a permanent Review Team member is unable to
14    participate or attend meetings.
15        (3) A requirement that the Bias-Free Case Review Team
16    convene with urgency (within 24 but no longer than 48
17    business hours) of a child being placed in protective
18    custody and prior to a shelter care hearing in order to
19    determine if protective custody is warranted.
20        (4) Establishment of decision-making protocols for the
21    following questions:
22            (i) What constitutes a child protection
23        investigation meeting or not meeting the criteria to
24        be presented to the Review Team?
25            (ii) Who decides to bring the investigation to the
26        Review Team?



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1            (iii) How and when the Review Team is to convene
2        during holidays, weekends, and after normal business
3        hours?
4    (e) The steering committee shall ensure that the pilot
5program includes:
6        (1) A requirement that the Review Team convenes as
7    provided in paragraph (3) of subsection (d) to determine
8    if there was an immediate or urgent necessity to remove
9    the child from the care of his or her parent or guardian.
10        (2) A requirement that the child protection
11    investigator or supervisor present the investigation to
12    the Review Team.
13        (3) A requirement that, prior to the Review Team
14    convening, the following demographic and identifiable
15    information must be removed from the case notes, intake
16    summary, and investigation:
17            (A) The name of the child and the child's parents.
18            (B) The race or ethnicity of the child and the
19        child's parents, except when the allegations require
20        thoughtful considerations pertaining to a family's
21        culture, ethnicity, or religion.
22            (C) The sexual orientation or gender identity of
23        the child and the child's parents, except when the
24        allegations require thoughtful considerations
25        pertaining to the LGBTQ status or gender identity of
26        the child.



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1            (D) The religious affiliation or beliefs of the
2        child and the child's parents, except when the
3        allegations require thoughtful considerations
4        pertaining to a family's culture, ethnicity, or
5        religion.
6            (E) The disability status of a parent, except when
7        the allegations require thoughtful considerations
8        pertaining to a family's disability status.
9            (F) The political affiliation or beliefs of the
10        child and the child's parents.
11            (G) The marital status of the child's parents.
12            (H) The income level of the child's parents.
13            (I) The education level of the child's parents.
14            (J) Any reference to the location of the
15        neighborhood or county of the parent's address.
16        Redacting the demographic and identifiable information
17    from the intake summary, case notes, and investigation
18    reduces the potential for biased decision-making among
19    Review Team members. In adherence with the standards under
20    the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and
21    Department rules, the focus shall instead be on the
22    evidence of safety factors, risk elements, and family
23    strengths. If removal is identified as unwarranted, the
24    Review Team shall make appropriate recommendations to
25    ensure the safety and well-being of the child, including,
26    but not limited to, voluntary or court-ordered intact



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1    family services.
2        There only needs to be an agreement by the majority of
3    the Review Team members for a final decision to be
4    rendered.
5    (f) The Department shall develop a tool or rubric for the
6Review Team to fully document the decision-making process and
7what led to the final decision.
8        (1) Whenever a judge grants the Department temporary
9    custody of a child, the Review Team shall make a decision,
10    as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours prior to a
11    shelter care hearing, on whether the child's removal from
12    his or her home should be upheld or the child should be
13    returned home to his or her parent.
14        (2) The Review Team shall submit to the child
15    protection team (child protection worker, child protection
16    supervisor, and area administrator) the final decision in
17    writing.
18    (g) The steering committee shall have the authority to
19include additional parameters in developing the pilot program,
20as necessary, to remain consistent with and fulfill the
21purpose and goal of the pilot program.
22    (h) Cases that shall not be included in the pilot program:
23        (1) Where protective custody is taken by law
24    enforcement or a medical professional.
25        (2) Cases that involve a forensic interview by a child
26    protective investigator or law enforcement.



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1        (3) Cases that include photographs of injuries.
2        (4) Any case where the child welfare court has made a
3    determination on the issue of custody.
4    (i) There is established a Bias-Free Child Removal
5Advisory Board that shall include up to 2 of the following
6members, per pilot area:
7        (1) community-based partners from the fields of
8    domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, or
9    housing;
10        (2) public or private university partners;
11        (3) a member of an organization that advocates on
12    behalf of parents and families;
13        (4) a member of an organization that legally
14    represents children who are involved in the foster care
15    system, in the court process;
16        (5) a member of a statewide organization that
17    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
18    children and families;
19        (6) a parent with lived experience in the child
20    welfare system;
21        (7) a former youth in care with lived experience in
22    the child welfare system; and
23        (8) a member of an organization or office that
24    represents children in legal abuse and neglect
25    proceedings.
26    The Advisory Board shall be present with the Bias-Free



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1Review Team for all case reviews for the purpose of ensuring
2that the Review Team executes bias-free removals in accordance
3with this Act. The Advisory Board shall not be responsible for
4any decision making.
5    (j) The Department shall adopt the written protocols
6developed by the steering committee.
7    (k) Criteria for determining success. The pilot program
8shall be considered successful and expanded statewide if it is
9implemented with fidelity and the evaluation reveals that
10disproportionality of BIPOC children is reduced by the end of
11the pilot program. The pilot program shall not be expanded
12statewide if the evaluation reveals that the bias-free removal
13process did not reduce disproportionality.
14    (l) The Department shall adopt rules, policies, and
15procedures necessary to implement this Act with the assistance
16of the steering committee. The Department shall present
17findings of the evaluation to the General Assembly on a yearly
18basis, with the first report due on January 1, 2025. After year
193 of the pilot program, the Department shall determine the
20need to expand the pilot program statewide, if data shows an
21impact on disproportionality, and shall provide a
22justification for or against statewide expansion. The pilot
23program does not create a private cause of action in case there
24is a problem with the application of the bias-free removal



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1    Section 30. Repealer. This Act is repealed on January 1,
3    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
4becoming law.".