New study says Illinois DCFS needs to do more for LGBTQ youth

CHICAGO — The ACLU of Illinois said on Tuesday that a new report by Children & Family Research Center shows the state Department of Children and Family Services needs to do more for LGBTQ youth in its care. The study, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study, was released in June. The study stated that 21.8% of the youth age 12 to 17 who were interviewed reported an LGBTQ sexual orientation. Despite the small size of this group, LGBTQ youths were significantly more likely to score high on self-report measures of negative mood, bodily concerns, and thought problems, more likely to report often or always hating going to school, and more likely to report having been beat up by an adult at home at some point in their life. 

“We have been anxiously awaiting this report as this was the first time questions concerning sexual orientation and gender identity were added to this important statewide survey,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The ACLU of Illinois worked hard to ensure these questions were included in order to more fully understand the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ youth in state care.”

Heidi Dalenberg joins ACLU of Illinois as director of Institutional Reform Project

CHICAGO — The ACLU of Illinois announced Monday that Heidi Dalenburg joined the organization as the new director of the Institutional Reform Project. Dalenberg, who most recently was a partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, assumed the role on July 1. In her new role, she will lead the ACLU’s work aimed at making systemic reforms to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She has participated in these efforts for more than two decades as a cooperating counsel while in private practice.  “This is an incredible opportunity,” said Dalenberg in the press release.

ACLU of Illinois legal director to retire

CHICAGO — The legal director of the ACLU of Illinois announced last week that he is retiring. In a press release, the ACLU said that Benjamin Wolf  announced his upcoming retirement as the legal director of the ACLU of Illinois. Wolf joined the organization in 1984 and has served as legal director since 2015. He will remain in his current position until a successor is identified and retained.  

“It is difficult to imagine finding more satisfaction in a legal career than I experienced at the ACLU,” added Wolf in making his announcement.

ACLU of Illinois reacts to acquittal of three CPD Officers in Laquan McDonald conspiracy trial

CHICAGO — The ACLU of Illinois has reacted to the acquittal of three Chicago police officers accused of covering up for Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald. Their statement from Karen Sheley, Director, Police Practices Project, ACLU of Illinois:
“Today’s acquittals are a painful reminder of the complete lack of structural accountability for police officers in Chicago. The judge’s findings will allow these three officers to escape criminal consequences for their part in covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald. The court’s decision does nothing to exonerate a police department so rotten that a teenager can be murdered—on video—by one of its officers and no one in the chain-in-command lifted a finger to do anything about it. Until we change the structures that govern Chicago police officers, they will feel they have nothing to lose by lying and everything to lose if they tell the truth.