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


Sen. Karina Villa

Filed: 2/17/2022





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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) reports;
14        (2) protective custodies;
15        (3) indicated CAN reports;
16        (4) post-investigation service provision; and
17        (5) timely exits from substitute care.
18    (b) The purpose of this Act is to:
19        (1) Require the Department of Children and Family
20    Services to establish a 3-year, Bias-Free Child Removal
21    Pilot Program for the purpose of promoting unbiased
22    decision making in the child removal process, while
23    maintaining the safety of children and reducing risk, with
24    the goal of decreasing the overrepresentation of BIPOC
25    children in out-of-home placements. This goal would be



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



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1    bias-free removals in accordance with the provisions of
2    this Act.
3    Section 15. Definitions. As used in this Act:
4    "Bias-free" means to review a case file without the
5following identifying demographic information on the parent
6and child: gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location, and
7socioeconomic status, which prevents a reader from inserting
8bias, implicit or explicit, into critical decisions such as
9removing a child from the child's family.
10    "BIPOC" means people who are members of the groups
11described in subparagraphs (a) through (e) of paragraph (A) of
12subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Business Enterprise for
13Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities Act.
14    "Child" means any person under 18 years of age.
15    "Child welfare court personnel" means lawyers, judges,
16public defenders, and guardians ad litem.
17    "Department" means the Department of Children and Family
19    "Evaluation design" means identifying an overall strategy
20for analyzing the effectiveness of a program to include
21outlining a distinct approach to formulating key outputs and
22outcomes, selecting an appropriate research method, and
23evaluating the outcomes of a program.
24    "Immediate and urgent necessity", in accordance with
25Section 5 of the Abused and Neglected Child reporting Act,



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



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1child's parent or guardian, as specified.
2    By January 1, 2024, the steering committee established by
3the Department as provided in Section 25 shall develop the
4pilot program for the purpose of addressing racial
5disproportionality in the child welfare system. The pilot
6program shall be implemented for a period of no less than 3
7years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one
8office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
9Williamson County.
10    The Department shall on January 1, 2025, January 1, 2026,
11and January 1, 2027 submit to the General Assembly an
12evaluation report that details the pilot program's
13implementation and that provides an analysis of the pilot
14program's effect and impact on the removal rates of BIPOC
15children. The January 1, 2027 report shall be the final
16evaluation report submitted to the General Assembly by the
18    Section 25. Implementation.
19    (a) By January 1, 2023, the Department shall establish a
20steering committee consisting of an interdisciplinary, diverse
21group of child welfare professionals and advocates for the
22purpose of creating the Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program
23and the pre-implementation plan for the pilot program. The
24steering committee shall be diverse in regard to the
25geographic location, race/ethnicity, gender, and profession



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



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



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



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



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



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



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1Advisory Board with the knowledge and understanding of the
2Department's policies, rules, and procedures that shall
3include up to 2 of the following members, per pilot area:
4        (1) community-based partners from the fields of
5    domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, or
6    housing;
7        (2) public or private university partners;
8        (3) a member of an organization that advocates on
9    behalf of parents and families;
10        (4) a member of an organization that legally
11    represents children who are involved in the foster care
12    system, in the court process;
13        (5) a member of a statewide organization that
14    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
15    children and families;
16        (6) a parent with lived experience in the child
17    welfare system;
18        (7) a former youth in care with lived experience in
19    the child welfare system; and
20        (8) a member of an organization or office that
21    represents children in legal abuse and neglect
22    proceedings.
23    The Advisory Board shall be present with the Bias-Free
24Review Team for all case reviews for the purpose of ensuring
25that the Review Team executes bias-free removals in accordance
26with this Act. The Advisory Board shall not be responsible for



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1any decision making.
2    (j) The Department shall adopt the written protocols
3developed by the steering committee.
4    (k) Criteria for determining success. The pilot program
5shall be considered successful and expanded statewide if it is
6implemented with fidelity and the evaluation reveals that
7disproportionality of BIPOC children is reduced by the end of
8the pilot program. The pilot program shall not be expanded
9statewide if the evaluation reveals that the bias-free removal
10process did not reduce disproportionality.
11    (l) The Department shall adopt rules, policies, and
12procedures necessary to implement this Act with the assistance
13of the steering committee. The Department shall present
14findings of the evaluation to the General Assembly on a yearly
15basis, with the first report due on January 1, 2025. After year
163 of the pilot program, the Department shall determine the
17need to expand the pilot program statewide, if data shows an
18impact on disproportionality, and shall provide a
19justification for or against statewide expansion. The pilot
20program does not create a private cause of action in case there
21is a problem with the application of the bias-free removal
23    Section 30. Repealer. This Act is repealed on January 1,



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1    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
2becoming law.".