SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As a part of her priority to protect children in state care, state Rep. Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago) passed legislation allowing for minors in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to speak with the media if they choose to.
“Caring for our children and making sure they have their rights protected should be one of our top priorities,” said Collins. “If children in DCFS care are always stifled and not allowed to speak to the media if they want to, it limits the public’s ability to know what problems they are facing and how to best help them.”
Collin’s legislation, House Bill 3886, states that any time the news media requests to speak with a minor under 18 years of age, the DCFS must provide notice to the minor, the minor’s attorney, and court appointed guardian within one business day of the request. If the minor is under 18 and the Department has determined that they do not have the maturity or that contact more likely than not will cause serious harm, the notice must also include how they came to this conclusion and the reasoning that led them to it. However, if an individual in care over the age of 18 chooses to speak to the media the Department cannot interfere with the contact. House Bill 3886 recently passed the House floor with unanimous support and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.
“This bill will protect the rights of minors in DCFS while providing them more agency. We must ensure that minors have their rights protected and that they are not having their freedom of speech dictated, interfered or restricted.” Collins continued. “Letting problems go unvoiced should not be tolerated, so instead we need to ensure that minors are able to have an open dialogue when they choose to.”