Governor signs Sen. Peters’ bills expanding services for youth transitioning out of state care and for newly adopted children

Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) speaks after Gov. J.B. Pritzker, second from right, signed House Bill 2040 into law last month. (Contributed photo)

HERALD STAFF REPORT

On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed two bills Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) shepherded through the General Assembly. Senate Bill 1808 expands state support for youth transitioning out of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) care, and House Bill 3587 expands state services for newly adopted children.

Senate Bill 1808 requires state agencies — including DCFS and the departments of Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Healthcare and Human Services as well as the Illinois Board of Education and Urban Development Authority — to enter into agreements to provide housing support, education support and employment support services to youth who are currently or who soon will be aging out of state care.

“Former foster children between the ages of 19 and 21 have a significantly higher risk of facing many hardships, including homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration, and often have difficulty receiving a quality education,” Peters said in a statement. “If we can offer services to the kids who are at risk of facing these disadvantages, then we can provide them with a much higher quality of life than they otherwise might have.”

House Bill 3587, which Peters chief-sponsored in the Senate after it was filed by North Side Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-12th), adds mental health treatment, counseling and support services for emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs and treatment for substance abuse to the services the DCFS offers to post-placement and post-adoption children.

The Adoption Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association pushed for the legislation, arguing it will better ensure successful adoptions and lower the rate of children being returned to state care.

Peters referenced his own adoption in statements regarding both bills’ passage into law. “I experienced first-hand the importance of these services to youth in care,” he said. “I have been fully committed to improving the lives of youth in care during my time in the Senate, and this new law will give kids who are adopted or placed in foster care a better ability than I had to access the helpful services they require.”

Pritzker signed House Bill 2040, for which Peters was chief sponsor in the Senate, into law last month. Filed by North Side Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy (D-14th), it bans immigrant detention centers in Illinois and halted a proposed federally run center in Dwight, Illinois. It made Illinois the first state to ban private civil detention centers after already banning private criminal detention centers.

Peters, who was appointed to his seat in January, helped pass 13 bills through the General Assembly during his freshman session.

herald@hpherald.com