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ROCKFORD (WREX) –

Lawmakers want to keep foster children out of foster homes longer if they lose their license.

“We’re talking about the most vulnerable kids in the state of Illinois,” Marissa Allen said.

Allen works with Our Children’s Homestead, a foster care and adoption agency that serves about 150 kids in Northern Illinois.  She said foster care agencies must make sure children are well taken care of by safe families.

“We’re talking about kids who have been traumatized abused and neglected, and we want to make sure, and it is our responsibility when the state steps in as their guardians to make sure they are safe,” Allen said.

Representative John Cabello said abuse is something he saw frequently in law enforcement, but lawmakers want to end it.

“You go through the investigative process some are founded and some unfounded,” Cabello said.

That’s why Illinois House Representatives voted unanimously for House Bill 4966, sponsored by Litesa Wallace.

“The new bill makes sure that if they’re in a home that is so egregious that they were to lose their license for foster parenting, that the license would be lost for not just one year as previous statutes stated, the license would be lost for 5 years,” Wallace said.

The law also allows a guardian or an attorney representing a child to request information regarding foster home licensing referencing.

“This bill would make sure that the application process is more stream lined and we’re also tying to make sure that we eliminate the number of people that go  from agency to agency to become licensed for foster care,” Wallace said.

Our Children’s Homestead is contracted through Department of Children and Family Services to provide care for foster children 10 and older diagnosed with a disability.

Allen said its not an easy process to revoke a foster home license which is why she does not think it would change their process.

“Once a foster home license is revoked I have not had a foster home that has approached us for re-licensing,” Allen said.  “Our agency would be very very cautious, regardless of any bill that is in place right now, re-licensing a foster home that had their license revoked or even relinquished it voluntarily if there were some significant safety issues in that home.”

The bill will next go before the Senate.
http://www.wrex.com/story/31729614/2016/04/14/illinois-house-representatives-supporting-efforts-to-protect-foster-children

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