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Gov. Pritzker signs bill focusing on youth in foster care and mental health

According to Gov. Pritzker, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that up to 80...
According to Gov. Pritzker, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues.(Canva/Daniel Chetroni)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 2:51 PM CDT
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ILLINOIS (KFVS) - In an effort to improve access to children’s mental health services, Governor JB Pritzker signed two pieces of legislation into law today.

Specifically, the governor says these bills will focus on youth in foster care through targeted task forces.

SB3889 forms a Children’s Mental Health Council to research and recommend legislative action for children with mental and behavioral disabilities, particularly around residential placement needs.

HB4306 amends the Children and Family Services Act to require all youth in foster care be assigned a mental health provider to perform well-being assessments and forms the Holistic Mental Health Care for Youth in Care Task Force.

“We know the pandemic further exacerbated the mental health challenges our young people were already facing and it is time we take action,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The Holistic Mental Health Care for Youth in Care Task Force will work to create policies based in real-world, lived experiences to better support our foster youth. To ensure we can also have an immediate impact, each child in foster care will be paired with a mental health professional, so they receive the compassion, investment, and advocacy that they need and deserve. There is nothing more important than caring for our young people and I am proud to sign these two bills into law.”

According to the governor’s office, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, creating a pressing need for treatment and services for this population.

Gov. Pritzker says these pieces of legislation help create a system that observes and recommends treatment needs and monitors placement needs. He says HB4306 requires that at least one member of the task force be a former youth in care, ensuring the lived experiences and needs of children in care are recognized.

The Holistic Mental Health Care for Youth in Care Task Force will assess capacity levels for mental healthcare providers that serve children in care and review payment rates and recruitment to ensure retention of providers, particularly providers of color who serve the diverse population of children in care.

More information can be found on the governor’s webiste.

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