Why Does the ACLU Care About Children & Youth in DCFS?
The ACLU has advocated for better care for youth in the custody of DCFS since 1988 when we first filed a lawsuit against DCFS for failing children and youth in care. The case is called B.H., and you can read about it here.
The ACLU and DCFS came to an agreement (known as a consent decree) outlining steps that DCFS would take to do a better job of caring for children and youth.
As part of that agreement, lawyers at the ACLU represent “all persons who are in the custody of DCFS and who have been placed somewhere other than with their parents.” This means that if you are in DCFS custody and not living with your family of origin, we are your lawyers for purposes of “system-wide reform” of DCFS. As your lawyers for those issues, we want to make sure DCFS is doing a good job of caring for you and that you know your rights.
Children and Youth in DCFS Care Have Many Rights!
One source of rights is the Illinois Foster Child And Youth Bill Of Rights (FYBOR). DCFS should provide and explain this document to you when you entered care. Your permanency and caseworker also should review the document with you regularly.
The FYBOR sets out many of the rights of children and youth in DCFS care. The general categories of rights are…
- To feel safe;
- To achieve permanency and maintain lifelong connections;
- To be well and to have my well-being needs met; and
- To be involved and informed in your care and decisions about your future;
If you feel that DCFS is not respecting any of your rights as set out in the FYBOR, please contact us!
Many children and youth in DCFS care are also protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). This state law protects people in Illinois from discrimination based on their belonging to certain protected classes. The protected classes include:
- Race or color;
- National origin or ancestry;
- Physical or mental disability;
- Sexual orientation or gender identity; and
If DCFS is treating you differently and not providing you with quality care because you belong to a protected class, DCFS may be violating your rights under the IHRA. For example, if you are being denied an opportunity – like participation in an activity – that is offered to other children or youth in your placement because you are pregnant or because you identify as LGBTQ, that may be a violation of the IHRA. Another example might be if a caregiver is treating you poorly compared to other children or youth because of your race or religion, that might be against the law.