SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Responding to widespread recognition that Illinois’ child welfare system is under increased strain, state Rep. Norma Hernandez, D-Melrose Park, passed new legislation clarifying the mission of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to place children in stable family arrangements.
“Protecting children across Illinois in an effective and accountable way requires a great deal of organizational accountability as well as adherence to established rules and procedure, meaning it can be a challenge to ensure that the focus stays on the human factor, on the children themselves,” Hernandez said. “That’s why I’m joining DCFS policymakers in pushing to ‘reset’ the Department’s focus—zooming out from the bureaucracy and back in on the kids whose welfare needs to be top priority.”
Hernandez’s House Bill 3705 would stipulate that child welfare services are intended to be provided temporarily—only until the involved child can be safely returned to their parents or, if that isn’t possible, until supportive permanency can be established through other options. DCFS and community-based child welfare agencies support the bill.
The bill now advances to the state Senate.
“Children should not be left in limbo, or shuffled around from place to place,” Hernandez said. “The priority needs to be on—first and foremost—keeping them safe, with providing stability and support being a close second. It’s honestly really sad that vulnerable kids in Illinois are finding themselves caught up in a political narrative. But my hope is that this bill will help in building them a better future.”
Hernandez’s office can be reached at email@example.com.