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  News  

DCFS Statewide Youth Advisory Board proposes a new Sibling Rights Resolution to lawmakers

Springfield, IL (February 25, 2004) - The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB), assisted by law students from Loyola University School of Law, has created a Sibling Rights Resolution which urges state lawmakers to establish provisions that allow former foster children the right to maintain ties with their siblings once they are adopted. The SYAB will host a press conference on Wednesday, February 25th at 10:00 AM in the Blue Room of the State Capitol, to share their personal experience with sibling rights issues and to discuss how this new resolution will benefit foster and adopted children throughout Illinois.

"The Sibling Rights Resolution supports the Department's efforts to utilize a holistic approach to administering services to children in the state's care," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels. "In most cases, maintaining sibling contact is essential to the growth and development of these children."

The resolution was developed out of the hearts of youth in state care because they feel strongly that the foster care system in Illinois is not currently designed to support the need for brothers and sisters to be consistently connected. For many youth in state care, reunification is not an option and sibling contact is the single remaining bound with their birth families. Once a youth is adopted in Illinois, sibling contact, visitation rights and even phone calls are left to the discretion of adoptive families.

As a testament to its commitment, the SYAB invested countless hours planning and executing meetings with child welfare administrators and policymakers to help push them one step closer to achieving their ultimate goal of creating a Sibling Bill of Rights for youth in foster care. As a result, Senator Mattie Hunter and other supporters have stepped forward to advocate for the resolution, which will be read in Committee during the afternoon session on February 25th.

The Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) in partnership with the Chicago Area Project began in 1994 when its members demonstrated a deep commitment to youth in state care by meeting with the DCFS Director to discuss ways to better meet their needs and submitting reports that outlined the Board's progress with various youth-led initiatives. As a result, the SYAB was awarded a contract through DCFS and has established various sub-committees to discuss current DCFS policy, work closely with Department and Chicago Area Project staff to understand how policies will affect wards of the state, investigate new initiatives, and make recommendations to the Director regarding various initiatives and policies.

The SYAB is an all youth, quality assurance, advisory board to the Department and is comprised of four elected officers from six regional boards. There are a total of 24 members ranging in age from 14-21 years who have become an integral part of the Department's strategic planning efforts.

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Contact:
Kim Broome
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
312-814-6847



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