SPRINGFIELD – The quality of Illinois foster care homes will improve for more than 13,000 children under legislation sponsored by state Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)
Under current state law, foster parents considered unfit to raise children can re-apply one year after losing their license. House Bill 4966 would ensure that past performance of a foster home is taken into account for future licenses.
“Wards deserve the same quality households as their peers who live with their biological parents,” Hunter said. “It is Illinois’ responsibility to prevent a revolving door of unfit, neglectful and sometimes abusive foster parents from harming our children.”
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services oversees about 15,000 students, 13,000 of whom live in foster homes across the state. In recent years, news reports have uncovered systemic abuse and neglect of children under the department’s care.
House Bill 4966 is a part of lawmakers’ efforts to reform the department and address the well-being of children under the state’s care.
Other states have strengthened their requirements for foster care license renewal. North Carolina requires five years before an applicant can apply. Minnesota requires five years if revoked and two years if denied.
New York and Florida both require that past performance be a determining factor in the re-application process.
House Bill 4966 passed the House 114-0 and the Senate 55-0. It now goes to the governor’s desk for further consideration.