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Civil Rights of Children Violated — Only 37 Emergency Shelter Beds are Available for Youth Across Illinois while Specialized Foster Home Beds Have Not Been Created

Over a thousand children came into state custody in 2020, yet there are less than 40 emergency shelter beds available to these kids, creating a crisis-level shortage of shelter beds. Currently, children that come into the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) have four options:

1) emergency shelters;

2) residential facilities;

3) specialized foster homes; and

4) traditional foster homes.

About five years ago, Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert began a movement to trade in residential beds for specialized foster home beds, which could provide children with quicker access to community and medical care resources. However, DCFS never created the specialized foster home beds and eliminated 500 residential beds. DCFS claims it enhanced 613 residential beds in the last two years by adding staff and services but has requested more time to gather statistics on the number of beds for children in state custody. In the meantime, children are sleeping on the floors of offices and languishing in psychiatric hospitals after they have been cleared to leave.

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