Policies in Illinois

Illinois Foster Parent Law and Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council

In 1995, Illinois enacted Public Act 89-19, which ensures that foster parents have a role in decision-making both in individual cases and in statewide policy development. The Foster Parent Law consists of extensive legislative findings regarding the essential role of foster parents, as well as a list of foster parents’ rights and responsibilities. The Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council Law created a 22-member council consisting of foster parents, foster care professionals, the president of the Illinois Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and four non-DCFS foster care experts to advise and make recommendations regarding foster care law and policy. In addition, the council is tasked with reviewing, approving and monitoring the implementation plans required by the Foster Parent Law. The council scores each plan based on a set of criteria developed by the council and conducts on-site agency reviews to determine adherence to the rights and responsibilities enumerated in the Foster Parent Law. In addition to the statewide council, each DCFS region has its own council.

See here for more details.

Illinois Shared Parenting Policy

Within the shared parenting framework, Permanency Workers, parents and caregivers work as a team. As with any effective team, players have different roles, responsibilities and tasks, but each team member has the same goal - in this case, to preserve or rebuild the family around the long-term welfare of the child. This requires that the team members form a partnership or positive alliance always seeking to keep parents focused on the welfare of the child.

See the policy for more details.

Illinois' Children’s Home and Aid Foster Parent Mentors

Children’s Home and Aid is one of the largest statewide private providers of child welfare services in Illinois. The foster parent mentoring program was begun in March 2017, after a series of focus groups across the state revealed that foster parents were supporting one another informally but sometimes exchanging inaccurate information about state policy and procedure. The mentoring program was started to formalize such support and ensure that foster parents were receiving up-to-date information.

See the playbook for more information.

Office of Parent and Caregiver Support

Illinois DCFS Office of Parent and Caregiver Support employs 40 Foster Parent Support Specialists statewide to serve DCFS and private agency foster homes. The goals of the program are to retain foster parents, promote family reunification, stabilize foster placements and facilitate youth development.

See Illinois' diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Trauma-informed foster parent training

The National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents program is a a five-year federal grant project focused on developing a state-of-the-art training program to prepare foster and adoptive parents to care for children exposed to trauma. Intended outcomes include improved placement stability, improved permanency rates and enhanced child and family well-being. Seven states a tribal community have been selected to partner as pilot sites, including: Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Kansas and Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. 

See the project's website for more details.