033122CM0498 rSPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman to collect additional information for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in an effort to strengthen support and care for children in the foster system was signed into law Friday.

“Children should feel safe with their foster families, and when fostering situations change, we have a responsibility to find out why,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “Listening to foster youth and learning about their experiences in their own words is one of the best ways to get answers and improve the system.”

House Bill 4304 requires exit interviews to be conducted within five days of removal for every child age five and older who leaves a foster home. This process is modeled after a similar procedure followed by caseworkers in Florida.

Under current regulations, DCFS caseworkers are involved in the child removal process when requested by the foster home. This legislation lays the groundwork for a formal process to work to ensure caseworkers are gathering important information about each child’s experience in a home upon removal.

Information gathered during these interviews will depend on the age and maturity of the child and the circumstances of the removal request. House Bill 4304 requires the child to be asked if their basic needs were met in the home, if they had access to a caseworker or therapist, if they felt safe and comfortable in the home, and whether or not they felt included by their foster family.

“When there is a request for a child to be removed from a foster home, it’s important that we understand their perspective – not just the foster parents’,” said State Representative Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago), House sponsor and initiator of the bill. “These removals can have a profound impact on the development and life of a child, we have to make sure the process is being handled fairly and correctly. If additional children are going to be placed with a foster parent, it’s critical that we have an informed understanding of their previous care.”

The legislation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

032322CM0149 rNAPERVILLE – Dedicated license plates will soon be available to more members of Gold Star Families in Illinois thanks to a new law by State Senator Laura Ellman signed on Friday.

“When brave men and women put their lives on the line to defend our country, their families make great sacrifices as well—Gold Star Families sacrificing the most of all,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “I was proud to partner with dedicated legislators and advocates from across the state to pass this law ensuring all members of Gold Star Families receive the recognition and thanks they so rightfully deserve.”

House Bill 5078 expands the current eligibility list for Gold Star Family license plates to include stepchildren, adopted children and half-siblings of veterans who lost their lives serving in a branch of the United States Armed Forces, and waives the registration fee for children in Gold Star Families.

“There’s no way we can ever repay our debt to the families of Gold Star service members,” said State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora). “But it’s important that we do what we can to show our respect and remember their sacrifice. This legislation will properly align our state law with language used by the Department of Defense, and ensure appropriate individuals receive the recognition they deserve. All of our Gold Star families are in my thoughts – we can never forget them.”

The legislation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

knolwoodaerial rDuPage Co., Ill. – Thanks to advocacy from State Senators Laura Ellman, Suzy Glowiak Hilton, and Karina Villa, the DuPage County Department of Public Works is set to receive more than $21 million in infrastructure funding for two local water reclamation facilities.

“Water is one of our most precious natural resources, we have to make sure we treat our local rivers and streams with care,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “These funds will help us update our facilities to ensure wastewater going back into the DuPage River and other local streams isn’t hurting our environment.”

The funds come from the Illinois EPA's State Revolving Fund Program, which includes the Water Pollution Control Loan Program and the Public Water Supply Loan Program. These programs provide low-interest loans to fund wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects.

“With this investment, the DuPage County Department of Public Works can make significant progress to update important electrical infrastructure,” said Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs). “I’m pleased to see this program help with growth and development throughout the county.”

The $21,258,984 in funding slated to come to the DuPage County Department of Public Works will be used to upgrade electrical equipment at the Woodridge-Greene Valley Water Reclamation Facility and the Knollwood Water Reclamation Facility. Work includes replacing the electrical systems including the main switchgears, underground cables and substations, as well as replacing the backup generators at both facilities.

“These facilities are vital to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for the next generation,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “When we invest in our environment, we invest in our future, and I’m pleased to see these funds being put to such good use in our community.”

Projects are funded throughout the state through the Rebuild Illinois program, and recipients will receive an interest rate of 1.11% for both wastewater and drinking water loans. Learn more about Illinois EPA’s SRF program here.

EOS Quote Ellman GoldSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s affirmative vote on a budget and tax relief plan aimed at providing financial and economic security to Illinois:

“This balanced budget has no deficit—in fact, it has a surplus.

“Having fulfilled our commitments to education, community services and public safety, we were left with a surplus. We responsibly balanced that surplus by lowering our long-term debt obligations and returning money to taxpayers. Paying our debts puts Illinois on better financial footing, which can boost our bond agency rating even more, and we have put Illinois on better economic footing by giving money back to middle class families, which will improve local economies and support small businesses.

“I am proud to support this budget that can be described in two words: responsible balance.”

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