submitted by Beverly Dukes, UVC Policy Coordinator
For several decades, advocates, constituents and parents have demanded strategic changes in the Illinois child welfare system. Of note: the number of African American children and youth in state care is exponentially more than any other group—these numbers also surpass the national average:
“Black children and youth are represented in the child welfare system in Illinois at approximately 3 times the percentage of the statewide child population that is Black. Nationally, Black children and youth are represented in foster care at approximately 2 times the percentage of the national child population that is Black according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.1”
In June 2021, the state passed HB3821, which created a Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare Task Force. According to 9th District Rep. Lakesia Collins, “[t]his task force will examine the racial disparities of children and families in the child welfare system and the causes of such disparities. The task force will explore resources, policies, and practices that could help prevent entry into the child welfare system and reduce racial disproportionalities within the system.”2
This newly established task force can provide opportunities to address some of the systemic problems and challenges that have plagued Illinois’ child welfare system for decades. As advocates for our most vulnerable children and adolescents, I implore you to support this task force. Please tell others in your communities and faith-based organizations how they can support children and adolescents in state care. For more information on this child welfare task force and ways to support children and adolescents in care, go to childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/racial_disproportionality.pdf.