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Illinois Law Strives to Protect Homeless Families

Posted on in Family Law
Illinois family law attorney, Illinois law, right to education, Somewhere tonight – probably, in fact, somewhere not too far from where you live – a child is sleeping in a car, or on the street, or in a shelter. This child might have a family, but he does not have a place to call home. It is a humbling reminder that not every family has a comfortable (or even safe) living situation.

While homeless families have fewer resources, they still enjoy the same protections under Illinois law. The state cannot deny its homeless citizens access to basic public services and must protect their legal rights. Specific guarantees are enumerated in the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless, including:

  • Homeless families have the right to be in public spaces, including on public sidewalks and on public transportation, without facing discrimination;
  • State and municipal agencies cannot use housing status as a basis for discrimination;
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees who do not have a permanent mailing address or whose address is a shelter;
  • Homeless families have the right to receive emergency medical care (and independent homeless youth have the right to give consent to non-emergency medical care);
  • Homeless persons who are at least 18 years old have the right to vote, register to vote and receive the necessary documentation in order to cast a vote;
  • Homeless shelters and other service providers cannot disclose a homeless family’s personal records or other protected information; and
  • Homeless families have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.

Moreover, homeless children have a right to receive a public education. When an Illinois child becomes homeless, the parents or guardians may:

  • Opt to continue the child’s education in his original school for as long as he remains homeless; or
  • Enroll the child in a school that non-homeless students living in the attendance area are eligible to attend.

Foster Care for Homeless Children

While Illinois law strives to keep families together, sometimes separation is the only option. For example, homeless children might be eligible for foster care – a temporary living arrangement for children whose parents cannot take care of them. Children are often placed with a licensed foster family until they can be safely reunited with their families. Remember that foster care is intended to be a temporary solution. Reunification, when possible, is always the goal. In fact, a foster child’s birth parents typically have the right to visit their child while he is in foster care. The caseworker is responsible for making those arrangements.

If your child has been temporarily placed in foster care – whether due to homelessness or for another reason – and you have questions about 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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