Senator Adriane Johnson - HB439

SPRINGFIELD – Prioritizing the needs of youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with behavioral and mental health medical needs, State Senator Adriane Johnson championed a new law to ensure they get timely access to essential treatment.

“It’s vital that we ensure youth in care who need residential treatment receive it in a timely and efficient manner,” said Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove). “We must work to avoid out-of-state transfers or placements that can be disruptive to those with complex behavioral and mental health medical needs long term.”

Johnson’s law will require DCFS 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.

“The very point of DCFS is to ensure children are uplifted, supported and receive the assistance they need,” said Johnson. “It is our duty to help youth in care by taking a safe, trauma-responsive approach.”

House Bill 439 was signed into law Friday.