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


Sen. Karina Villa

Filed: 3/4/2022





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend Senate Bill 3720, AS AMENDED,
3by replacing everything after the enacting clause with the
5    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
6Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program Act.
7    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds that the
8University of Illinois' Children and Family Research Center
9determined in its October 2021 report, "Racial
10Disproportionality in the Illinois Child Welfare System",
12        (1) In 2020, compared to their percentage in the
13    general child population, black children were
14    overrepresented in foster care having made up 16.4% of the
15    general child population, but accounting for 38.5% of
16    protective custodies.



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1        (2) In comparison, white children were proportionally
2    represented in foster care having made up 52.8% of the
3    general child population, but accounting for 48.8% of
4    protective custodies. Hispanic children were
5    under-represented having made up 24.9% of the general
6    child population, but accounting for 11.5% of protective
7    custodies.
8    Section 10. Purpose.
9    (a) In Illinois, and across the nation, some racial and
10ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in
11the child welfare system. This disproportionality could occur
12at 5 different decision points during a family's child welfare
14        (1) investigated child abuse/neglect (CAN) 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 the child's safety,
8    health, and well-being.
9        (2) Establish a steering committee to:
10            (A) develop and implement the Bias-Free Removal
11        Pilot Program;
12            (B) appoint members for the Bias-Free Case Review
13        Team; and
14            (C) appoint members for the Bias-Free Child
15        Removal Advisory Board.
16        (3) Establish a Bias-Free Case Review Team consisting
17    of a child protection supervisor, an area administrator,
18    and a regional administrator from an area other than the
19    pilot area to: (i) review removal decisions absent
20    specific demographic information as provided in paragraph
21    (3) of subsection (e) of Section 25; and (ii) determine
22    whether removal of the child is necessary to avoid
23    imminent risk to the child's safety, health, and
24    well-being.
25        (4) Establish a Bias-Free Child Removal Advisory Board
26    to monitor and oversee the Bias-Free Case Review Team and



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



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



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



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



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1    Department's Division of Child Protection, the Deputy
2    Director of the Department's Division of Race Equity
3    Practice, and the Deputy Director of the Department's
4    Division of Intact Services.
5        (7) A licensed attorney who has practiced within the
6    Illinois child welfare court system in a county
7    represented in the pilot program such as, but not limited
8    to, a public defender, an assistant state's attorney, a
9    guardian ad litem, or a judge.
10        (8) A member of a statewide organization that
11    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
12    children and families.
13    (b) By January 1, 2024, the steering committee shall
14establish the pilot program for the purpose of addressing
15racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. The
16pilot program shall be implemented for a period of no less than
173 years in at least one office located in DuPage County, one
18office located in Champaign County, and one office located in
19Williamson County.
20    (c) The steering committee shall develop a written plan
21for the pilot program, in accordance with the goals of this
22Act, that shall be adopted by a unanimous vote.
23    (d) The steering committee must include in the development
24of the pilot program the following:
25        (1) Three permanent Bias-Free Case Review Team members
26    for each county with a pilot program. The Review Team



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1    shall be diverse in regard to the members' geographic
2    location, race and ethnicity, and gender. All Review Team
3    members shall possess the knowledge, experience,
4    understanding, and training equivalent to that of a child
5    welfare caseworker or investigator, or higher. The Review
6    Team shall be made up of the following:
7            (A) one child protection supervisor;
8            (B) one area administrator; and
9            (C) one regional administrator.
10        (2) At least 4 alternate Review Team members who meet
11    the same criteria set forth in paragraph (1) to fill in if
12    or when a permanent Review Team member is unable to
13    participate or attend meetings.
14        (3) A decision regarding a timeline for convening the
15    Bias-Free Case Review Team.
16        (4) Establishment of decision-making protocols for the
17    following questions:
18            (i) What constitutes a child protection
19        investigation meeting or not meeting the criteria to
20        be presented to the Review Team?
21            (ii) Who decides to bring the investigation to the
22        Review Team?
23            (iii) How and when the Review Team is to convene
24        during holidays, weekends, and after normal business
25        hours?
26    (e) The steering committee shall ensure that the pilot



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1program includes:
2        (1) A timeline for when the Bias-Free Case Review Team
3    shall convene.
4        (2) How and when the child protection investigator or
5    child protection supervisor shall present the
6    investigation to the Bias-Free Case Review Team.
7        (3) A requirement that, prior to the Review Team
8    convening, the following demographic and identifiable
9    information must be removed from the case notes, intake
10    summary, and investigation:
11            (A) The name of the child and the child's parents.
12            (B) The race or ethnicity of the child and the
13        child's parents, except when the allegations require
14        thoughtful considerations pertaining to a family's
15        culture, ethnicity, or religion.
16            (C) The sexual orientation or gender identity of
17        the child and the child's parents, except when the
18        allegations require thoughtful considerations
19        pertaining to the LGBTQ status or gender identity of
20        the child.
21            (D) The religious affiliation or beliefs of the
22        child and the child's parents, except when the
23        allegations require thoughtful considerations
24        pertaining to a family's culture, ethnicity, or
25        religion.
26            (E) The disability status of a parent, except when



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



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1    preparation of case files for the Review Team shall not be
2    completed by the child protection investigator or the
3    child protection supervisor.
4        Agreement by a majority of the Review Team members, as
5    shall be outlined in protocol, is needed to render a final
6    decision.
7    (f) The Department shall develop a tool or rubric for the
8Review Team to fully document the decision-making process and
9what led to the final decision.
10        (1) The Review Team shall make a decision on whether
11    the child's removal from the child's home should be upheld
12    or the child should be returned home to the child's
13    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 with the knowledge and understanding of the
6Department's policies, rules, and procedures that shall
7include up to 2 of the following members, per pilot area:
8        (1) community-based partners from the fields of
9    domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, or
10    housing;
11        (2) public or private university partners;
12        (3) a member of an organization that advocates on
13    behalf of parents and families;
14        (4) a member of an organization that legally
15    represents children who are involved in the foster care
16    system, in the court process;
17        (5) a member of a statewide organization that
18    advocates on behalf of community-based services for
19    children and families;
20        (6) a parent with lived experience in the child
21    welfare system;
22        (7) a former youth in care with lived experience in
23    the child welfare system; and
24        (8) a member of an organization or office that
25    represents children in legal abuse and neglect
26    proceedings.



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1    The Advisory Board shall be present with the Bias-Free
2Review Team for all case reviews for the purpose of ensuring
3that the Review Team executes bias-free removals in accordance
4with this Act. The Advisory Board shall not be responsible for
5any decision making.
6    (j) The Department shall adopt the written protocols
7developed by the steering committee.
8    (k) Criteria for determining success. The pilot program
9shall be considered successful and expanded statewide if it is
10implemented with fidelity and the evaluation reveals that
11disproportionality of BIPOC children is reduced by the end of
12the pilot program. The pilot program shall not be expanded
13statewide if the evaluation reveals that the bias-free removal
14process did not reduce disproportionality.
15    (l) The Department shall adopt rules, policies, and
16procedures necessary to implement this Act with the assistance
17of the steering committee. The Department shall present
18findings of the evaluation to the General Assembly on a yearly
19basis, with the first report due on January 1, 2025. After year
203 of the pilot program, the Department shall determine the
21need to expand the pilot program statewide, if data shows an
22impact on disproportionality, and shall provide a
23justification for or against statewide expansion. The pilot
24program does not create a private cause of action in case there
25is 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.".