Feigenholtz law bans shackling of children in DCFS care

SPRINGFIELD – In response to news reports that contractors for the Department of Children and Family Services sometimes resorted to shacking children during transport, a new law sponsored by State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) aims to end this practice by prohibiting DCFS and its agents from using restraints.

“These news reports sent shockwaves through the child welfare community when it was discovered that transport companies contracted by DCFS employed such cruel practices,” Feigenholtz said. “DCFS youth-in-care have experienced enough trauma in their lives. After continued reports shed light on this repeated method of transport, something had to be done to stop it.”

Senate Bill 2323 requires DCFS to treat youth in its care with dignity at all times, which effectively bans the use of hard restraints during transportation. It also requires DCFS to develop individual trauma-sensitive transfer plans for children in care. With a pandemic-related uptick in DCFS census numbers and caseload, Feigenholtz stressed the importance of ending the practice before it affected the new population.

“Our state’s most vulnerable kids should not be subjected to such barbaric practices,” Feigenholtz said.

Feigenholtz has spent a great deal of her legislative career working to safeguard the well-being of Illinois youth-in-care. She established the first Adoption and Child Welfare committee in the Illinois House and continues to work toward improving the lives of children in the Illinois child welfare system.

The legislation received bipartisan support from both chambers of the General Assembly and was signed by the governor Friday. The new law takes effect immediately.