WEST CHICAGO – A new law by State Senator Karina Villa creates a pilot program meant to address a disproportionate level of representation of minority families in the Department of Children and Family Services child removal process.
“We have a responsibility to identify and address bias in all our institutions,” said Villa (D-Chicago). “By allowing case workers to approach these situations unburdened by inadvertent bias or preemptive conclusions, we can rest assured that children across the state are being kept safe by a fair and just system.”
Previously Senate Bill 3720, the law requires DCFS to establish a three-year pilot program to promote unbiased decision making in the child removal process. Child protection specialists will be responsible for removing demographic information including, but not limited to, the child’s name, race or ethnicity, or socioeconomic status before a decision is made.
The Bias-free Case Review Team created under the pilot program is responsible for reviewing investigations and ensure that all decisions are rooted in maintaining a child’s safety and reducing risk factors. The effectiveness of the program will be monitored through annual evaluations submitted to the General Assembly by DCFS.
“When children are removed from their families, it’s a last-resort solution,” Villa said. “This law will help ensure those kinds of decisions are made objectively—based solely on what is best for the kids.”
Signed Friday, the law goes into immediate effect.