The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services should better their services

We are writing to express our concern for youth who are placed in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ custody and are placed in a mental health residential treatment center beyond the completion of their treatment, due to a lack of approved department placement options and efforts to return them home. The overall mission of the department is to protect children from neglect and abuse and to increase their families’ capacity to safely care for them.

We believe there should be an overall emphasis on the importance of family in the positive mental health functioning of youth. We would specifically like to focus on the parents who are working to obtain a safe home for their children who were taken from their custody. These are parents who lose custody because they are unable to provide a home and are told that there are certain criteria that need to be met by the home they plan to move their children in. Some of these parents attempt to get housing assistance through the state, but are unable to because they are told by the state that in order to qualify for a bigger living space, they have to have custody of the children. Despite parents’ efforts to communicate systematic barriers to the department, they receive little assistance in mitigating barriers to increase their capacity to safely care for their children, which contradicts the department’s mission.

In order to provide the best possible outcomes for families, there needs to be a simplification in regulations across multiple state departments as current regulations create significant barriers for families trying to be reunited with their children. The department needs to revisit and reallocate supportive services for families, and improve their access to resources that promote an increase in their capacity to safely care for their children.

Katelyn & Breyeh are seniors in Social Work. 

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