Youth in Care Bill of Rights
Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity, honesty and respect. If you are a youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, you have the following rights and responsibilities.
You have the right to:
- Be protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and/or neglect;
- Be told why you came into DCFS care and why you are still in DCFS care;
- Participate in the decisions concerning you and your future;
- Be placed in the DCFS care that can best meet your needs;
- Be placed with your brothers and sisters if it is possible and if DCFS believes it is in your best interests;
- Talk and visit with your parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and other people important to you unless the judge or your caseworker thinks it is not in your best interest;
- Ask for help if you ever feel that decisions made are not the best for you;
- Be visited by your caseworker at least monthly;
- Be listened to, respected and heard;
- Get the medical attention you need, this includes regular medical, dental and eye exams;
- Go to school;
- Participate in school, religious, cultural and other activities;
- Have a plan for a permanent living arrangement after you leave DCFS care, and to take part in developing and committing yourself to this plan; and
- Receive enough to eat and enough clothing, as well as a monthly allowance for your personal expenses.
You have a right to have representation in court. This means that:
- You have the right to have a lawyer;
- The guardian ad litem (GAL) will represent you in court, not your parents or DCFS or the court. Your GAL makes sure that your best interest is taken into account when the judge makes decisions that will affect you and your future;
- You have the right to speak with your court representative any time that you feel there is a need;
- You can have an interpreter to help you if you have trouble hearing or understanding English;
- People in court should extend the same professional courtesy to you that they extend to an adult. Your concerns and opinions should be heard;
- You should not be made to feel bad about yourself because of the words or actions of any person in the court system; and
- You can ask questions and keep asking questions until you understand what is happening.
You have the responsibility to:
- Tell your caseworker or foster parent or other caretaker when things are not going right for you;
- Tell your caseworker or adult you trust when you feel that you are in danger of abuse or neglect;
- Go to school; and
- Follow your part of the Service Plan.
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