SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Adriane Johnson’s law to ensure children with behavioral and mental health needs in DCFS’s care get timely access to essential treatment went into effect Monday, Jan. 1.

“It is our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our youth is prioritized,” said Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove). “This law reflects our dedication to encouraging a supportive and nurturing environment for every child’s growth and development.”

Johnson’s law requires 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 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 the length of hospitalization in emergency wards and raising the cost for families of youth with complex intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most severely, it can lead to the willing relinquishment of a child into DCFS custody in order to secure psychiatric care.

“We’re ensuring that vulnerable children receive the necessary support without undue delay,” said Johnson. “By prioritizing swift access to vital services, we aim to break down barriers, prevent crises and offer these young individuals a better chance at a successful, healthier future.”

House Bill 439 went into effect Jan. 1.