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Illinois Auditor General finds DCFS failing LGBTQ youth

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An audit from the Illinois Auditor General’s office has found that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is failing LGBTQ children in their care.

The report was released on Wednesday.

The top findings in the report include:

  • DCFS does not have a formal process in place to identify youth in care that may identify as LGBTQ.
  • DCFS utilizes outdated, inadequate, or non-existent computer systems to track youth in care and particularly LGBTQ youth in care.
  • DCFS is not ensuring that caseworkers review the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights with youth in care as is required.
  • The department did not implement training requirements in a timely manner.
  • DCFS failed to monitor the requirements of Appendix K including whether POS agencies have adopted policies that are at least as extensive as Appendix K.
  • DCFS does not require licensed foster parents to commit to provide care and homes that are affirming of all children and youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity as part of the licensing process.
  • LGBTQ status was taken into consideration for some placements. However, the Department is not utilizing its Child/Caregiver Matching Tool in most cases.
  • DCFS has taken some steps to recruit LGBTQ affirming foster parents by holding events specifically to recruit LGBTQ affirming parents. However, there was no evidence that these efforts have led to more LGBTQ affirming foster homes.
  • The number of emergency shelter beds in Illinois decreased dramatically between FY15 and FY19, leaving some areas of the State with no beds for youth in crisis.
  • DCFS is not providing accurate and complete information to the General Assembly in the required Youth in Care Waiting for Placement annual reports

The Auditor General made 16 recommendations for DCFS. Most of those recommendations involved the department more closely following their own rules, including training and tracking of youth in their care.

The ACLU of Illinois said the report was not surprising, as the organization had been hearing from youth on a regular basis.

“All children deserve the dignity of being respected for their authentic selves and feeling safe,” said Ghirlandi Guidetti, a staff attorney. “When the State takes children away from their families of origin and into custody, we all are responsible for ensuring safety and dignity are accorded to them. Until safe and affirming care is the norm at DCFS, we will continue our ongoing work advocating for these children.” 

The full report can be read here.

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