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Children, families, guardianship and estate laws

Part four in a series reviewing new legislation that took effect Jan. 1

The following is the fourth part in a review of notable new state laws that took effect on Jan. 1.

DCFS Birth Records: Permits young people who have been placed under temporary guardianship or custody of DCFS to freely receive up to four certified birth certificates annually through age 26 if they were in care of DCFS on or after their 18th birthday.

Custodial Alternatives for Pregnant Detainees: Requires the court to release a pregnant pre-trial detainee if birth will be given while in custody unless, after a hearing, the court determines the release would pose a threat to a victim or the general public. Allows the court to order a pregnant or post-partum detainee to be on electronic monitoring as a condition of pre-trial release. 

Protective Orders: Establishes that foster parents, legally appointed guardians, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents are added as persons protected under the Domestic Violence Act and Protective Orders Article.

DCFS Youth Post-Secondary Tuition and Fee Waivers: Increases access to post-secondary education for foster youths by providing tuition and fee waivers at any community college, university, or college maintained by the state of Illinois for eligible youths, including those not chosen for the current DCFS scholarship program, those the Department has court-ordered legal responsibility for, youths who aged out of care, youths formerly under care who have been adopted and were the subject of an adoption assistance agreement, or who have been placed in private guardianship and were subject to a subsidized guardianship. 

Adults with Disabilities Guardianship: Provides a court may not appoint an individual a guardian of a person or estate of an adult with disabilities before the would-be guardian discloses to the court the number of adults with disabilities over which he/she currently is appointed guardian. Provides if a court determines the would-be guardian is appointed guardian over more than five adults with disabilities, the court shall order the circuit court clerk to notify the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission and requires the commission shall maintain a list of all notifications. 

Youth in Care Assistance: Requires the DCFS to assist youths in care in identifying and obtaining documents to function as an independent adult prior to the closure of the youths' wardship. Necessary documents must include, but not be limited to: state identification card or driver’s license; Social Security card; medical records; educational records; and other documents. 

Workforce and Family Training Programs: Creates a five-year demonstration for two projects currently operating and being privately funded by Carle Foundation Hospital and Physician Group. These consist of the Job Readiness and Learning Program, which includes a paid training program, and Healthy Beginnings, a free, multiyear Nurse Family Partnership program for pregnant women, primarily at or below the poverty level, and offering support such as prenatal and family health, early childhood development, violence reduction, caregiver educational advancement/employment, and family self-sufficiency. 

DCFS Significant Event Reporting: Requires DCFS to provide a minor’s guardian ad litem or attorney, with a copy of each significant event report involving the minor, no later than three days after DCFS learns of an event requiring a report, or earlier, as required by Department rule. Defines “significant event report” to mean a document describing an event such as allegations of abuse, neglect or anything concerning their well-being. 

Child Abuse Reports: Requires DCFS to keep unfounded reports of child abuse or neglect for a minimum of five years. Seeks to provide investigators more information so patterns of abuse or neglect are more easily recognizable. 

DCFS Specialized Placement Trafficked Youth: Provides that before July 1, the DCFS shall develop or enter contracts with agencies providing specialized placements for youth who are victims of sex trafficking.

Visitation Clarification: Clarifies when a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling or step-parent can seek visitation. 

Health Care Surrogate for Youth in Care: States when the court has appointed a temporary guardian for an abused or neglected minor, it's allowed to also give the custodian the authority to serve as a surrogate decision-maker for the minor.

Child Support Driver’s License Suspension: A penalty reduction for driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license for failure to comply with an order to pay child support or comply with a visitation order, as well as for unpaid parking tickets. Only after receiving three or more tickets without paying any fees will they be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for driving while suspended or revoked.

Guardian Restrictions: Prohibits an agency employee who's directly providing care to a disabled adult ward from being appointed guardian to avoid a potential conflict of interest. 

Frail Individual Visitation: A process for family members to get court-ordered visitation if a family caregiver unreasonably prevents a family member from visiting a frail elderly individual. 

Public Lactation Room: Every facility housing a circuit court must designate at least one public lactation room or area by June 1. It can't be in a restroom and must include a chair, table, electrical outlet, and, where possible, a sink. 

Public Housing Applicant: Upon request for public housing, a housing choice voucher, or other housing owned or operated by a Housing Authority, the Housing Authority must provide an applicant with information on their position on the waiting list within 10 business days.

Visitation Privileges of Disabled Adult: Authorizes various persons to petition for visitation of a ward who is a disabled adult. Also prohibits the court from allowing visitation if the court finds the ward has capacity to evaluate and communicate decisions regarding visitation and expresses a desire not to have visitation with a petitioner. 

Adoption Consent Forms: Amends the Adoption Act to update various forms related to consent and surrender for purposes of adoption.

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