Illinois Senate directs Auditor General to evaluate care to LGBTQ youth in DCFS

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate on Friday passed Senate Resolution 403, which directs the Auditor General to evaluate the care provided to LGBTQ children and youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

SR0403 was introduced May 9. The resolution directs state Auditor General Frank J. Mautino to conduct a performance audit of the DCFS’ compliance with its obligations to protect and affirm children and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer.

“Too many LGBTQ youth find themselves in the custody of DCFS and where they experience disapproval, discrimination or abuse,” said State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), SR 403 sponsor, said. “LGBTQ youth in our state have the legal right to be treated equally and to safely express their sexual orientation and gender identity. We need to make sure youth are always being placed in an affirming household and have access to culturally competent healthcare providers who can get them the health care they need.”

In 2017, DCFS updated its LGBTQ policy in Appendix K to Procedures 302 in an attempt to strengthen non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ youth and promote safe and affirming environments for them, as well as require proper training for DCFS workers and caregivers on the needs of queer youth.

The ACLU of Illinois said, however, since then, there has been little to no public information about its implementation or how DCFS provides oversight on these promises. 

“LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in our child welfare system and face worse outcomes – displacement, over-reliance in congregate care, harassment, and physical violence – than their heterosexual or cisgender peers,” said Nora Collins-Mandeville, Director of Systems Reform Policy, ACLU of Illinois. “Our commitment to protecting youth in state care means we need to ensure our policies and laws are being fully implemented and enforced. We support Senate Resolution 403 and look forward to a thorough audit.” 

Per the resolution, the audit will require reporting of:

  • How and with what frequency DCFS and its contractors’ employees are trained on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the requirements of Appendix K
  • Processes on how queer youth are matched with foster parents and actions taken by DCFS and its contractors requiring foster parents’ commitment to provide care and homes that are affirming
  • How youth in DCFS care are made aware of their rights and how they can report violations
  • Existing oversight structure to ensure accountability and corrective actions
  • Methods on how information about youth gender identity is sought and how this information is maintained and protected
  • Number of transgender youth who have requested transition-related hormone therapy and consultation services, as well as the qualifications of the staff making determinations

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