Senator Johnson

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Adriane Johnson championed a measure to improve access to residential treatment for youth in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

“We must uphold our promise to protect and support youth in care,” said Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove). “This measure will ensure more efficient and timely treatment for our youth in care.”

Johnson’s measure would require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to develop a strategic plan to improve timely access to in-state residential treatment, evidence-based alternatives to treatment, and specialized foster care for youth in care with significant behavioral health needs.

According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois has only 13.8 behavioral health care professionals for every 10,000 residents. The erosion of the mental health care network in Illinois has a significant impact on access to care, increasing hospitalization for extended periods in emergency wards, and increasing expense for families of youth with complex intellectual or developmental disabilities. Most severely, it can lead to the willing relinquishment of a child into DCFS custody in order to fund psychiatric care.

“We have a duty to support youth in DCFS care,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, these children are far too often forgotten – we must give them the immediate care they need.”

House Bill 439 passed the Senate Wednesday.