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Chicago Tribune Reports Abuse, Corrective Actions at State Youth Residential Treatment Centers

Posted on in Family Law

Illinois family law attorney, juvenile delinquents, Illinois family lawyer,If your child is now, has ever been, or someday is, in trouble with the law, you might be concerned about the state of Illinois’s juvenile justice system and how it may affect your visitation rights.

The Chicago Tribune recently published a series highlighting the occurrence of illegal – and abusive – activities at some of Illinois’s youth residential treatment centers. (A youth residential treatment center is a facility that provides juvenile offenders with psychological and medical treatment, school and job training and temporary housing.) For example,the Tribune’s investigation revealed evidence of physical assaults, rapes, and child prostitution rings. In response to those allegations, the state Department of Children and Family Services began making unannounced inspections at the facilities, where officials are interviewing youth and staff as well as reviewing clinical records.

The department might also ask a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, the Child Welfare League of America, to conduct an independent investigation that would make public recommendations regarding care conditions at all of Illinois’s youth residential treatment facilities. Governor Pat Quinn took additional action, ordering a state advisory council to oversee the department’s efforts.

The Tribune reported that the department received numerous reports of troubling incidents at these facilities between 2011 and 2013 but continued sending youth wards to them without taking corrective action. The department has since taken action. In addition to the unannounced investigations and discussions about an independent review, department officials plan to:

  • Revise their procedures for investigating assault allegations in the facilities;
  • Train facility staff and youth on human trafficking and child prostitution prevention;
  • Revise their procedures to locate missing wards; and
  • Require facilities to make timely (and more frequent) reports of staff shortages, inappropriate staff conduct, runaway wards and assault incidents.

Your Rights as a Parent of a Juvenile Offender

As the parent of a juvenile offender, it is only natural to worry about how such facilities treat your child. It is also natural to have questions regarding your parental rights. Here are the answers to three common questions that you might have if your child is a temporary ward of the state and living in a residential treatment facility:

  1. Can I visit my child? Yes! Illinois law encourages parents to visit their children. You will need to consult with the specific facility regarding visitation hours and rules (such as if you may bring a younger sibling along).
  2. Do I have a say regarding the care my child receives while at the facility? If you are your child’s legal guardian, and your child is a minor, then the facility must consult you about your child’s medical treatment and education.
  3. Is my child allowed to visit home? It depends on the facility and the court order. Your child might be allowed to leave on weekends and/or on holidays.

Even when your minor child is a ward of the state, Illinois law still protects your rights as a parent or legal guardian. If you have questions regarding your parental rights, contact one of our experienced Kane County family law attorneys today. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.

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