morrison 060121SPRINGFIELD – When a child is in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, they often don’t know where to turn for legal help – despite having court-appointed assistance. However, under a law signed Friday that was championed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest), they will finally have a clearer understanding of their options.

“Our state’s most vulnerable population needs to know they have people who are there to help them every step of the way,” Morrison said. “The last thing foster families and children need during an already high-stress situation is to worry about how to handle their legal proceedings.”

Under the newly signed law, children in the care of DCFS, foster parents, caregivers or caseworkers can request the contact information of the child’s court-appointed guardian ad litem.

A guardian ad litem – or GAL – represents youth in care during court proceedings stemming from allegations a child was abused or neglected. However, of the 18,000 youth in care in Illinois, it is believed many don’t know how to contact their GAL or legal help regarding life-determining decisions.

“GALs play an important role in helping decide if a child should be removed from their family, if there have been sufficient efforts made to reunify a family, and whether parental rights should be terminated,” Morrison said. “Yet so many children and their caregivers don’t know where to turn for this kind of help. Today’s signing will give more of our vulnerable youth a better opportunity for a bright, safe future.”

Senate Bill 755 was signed Friday and takes immediate effect.