(The Center Square) – The Illinois Senate has passed a bill that prohibits the Department of Children and Family Services from physically restraining children while they are being transported from one place to another.
Lawmakers have been trying for years to end the practice. Despite a promise from DCFS to never place young people in restraints, the practice continues.
The bill was brought forth by state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, who during floor debate, said Illinois has been getting the wrong kind of publicity worldwide.
“Stories in the newspaper over the past few years over about how the Department of Children and Family Services was transporting youth in care wearing metal shackles,” Feigenholtz said. “That story made it around the world. I had friends in Europe emailing me about it.”
The bill prohibits the use of restraints on youth in care, including chemical, manual, and mechanical restraints during the provision of any transportation services provided or arranged by DCFS or it’s contractual assigns. It also provides that any alleged or suspected violation of the restraint prohibition shall be reported to the department’s Office of the Inspector General.
“In those cases when you are dealing some of the most violent individuals who are a danger to themselves or to others in transporting without the use of restraints, what are the plans for those individuals?” said state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford.
“Any child that is that ill, shouldn’t be transported, and it would require a clinical event and once that child was be able to be transported, it would likely be with a medical professional,” Feigenholtz said.
The bill requires DCFS to prepare a written individualized trauma-sensitive transportation plan for any youth in care.
“I would like to see this practice end,” Feigenholtz said. “It doesn’t make us look very good as a state.”
The measure, which passed by a 49 to 3 vote, includes penalties for DCFS employees who violates the rules.