SPRINGFIELD – If a person charged with a misdemeanor is determined by a court to be mentally unfit to stand trial, a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) would allow them to be transferred into diversionary programs instead of entering the criminal justice system.

“People who have mental health issues need to be helped, not neglected,” Peters said. “If we’re able to offer these folks a program that can serve as an alternative to incarceration, we can take a big first step towards ending the criminalization of mental illness.”

These programs, known as “misdemeanant diversion programs,” work to identify individuals with mental illnesses, provide them with stabilizing treatment, and direct them toward community provided mental health services and away from incarceration.

Read more: Peters looks to provide the mentally ill with incarceration alternatives

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Seeking career education is a path that requires fees, tuition and tools, but eligible youth could have those associated costs lessened under a plan proposed by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

Senate Bill 1525 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to provide a stipend covering the upfront costs incurred upon entering an apprenticeship program. New apprentices often are on the hook for fees, tuition, and clothing and tools specific to their chosen occupation. The stipend would be provided to youth who are currently a responsibility of DCFS, who aged out of care upon reaching the age of 18, or who were formerly in DCFS and were adopted or placed in guardianship.

“A lot of folks find themselves unable to pay for the upfront cost of starting an apprenticeship, which prevents them from entering into that field and forces them to find work that might not pay as well or have as many benefits,” Peters said. “Life in youth care is hard, and we shouldn’t make it harder for the kids aging out of youth care by keeping in place another systemic barrier.”

The bill also requires DCFS to develop a plan to increase awareness of the program. It was approved by the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support and will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD –Various state agencies will be required to provide support services to youth who are transitioning out of DCFS care under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“Several studies have shown that former foster children between the ages of 19 and 21 are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration and difficulty receiving an education,” Peters said. “Our goal should be to intercept the youth who might fall into these bad experiences and divert them toward situations that are less difficult.”

Senate Bill 1808 requires many state agencies, including DCFS, the Illinois State Board of Education, The Illinois Urban Development Authority, and the Departments of Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Corrections, Healthcare and Family Services, and Human Services to enter into an interagency agreement to provide preventative services, including housing support, education support and employment support, to youth who are currently or who soon will be aging out of DCFS care.

“I’m a child of adoption myself, so I understand how much of a struggle life can be for kids in this situation,” Peters said. “We have the ability to provide them with continued support upon entering adulthood, so let’s provide it.”

The bill passed through the Senate with unanimous support. It will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Children in the state’s foster care system will be given an opportunity to have their voices heard about issues within the system that affect them under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“No one knows the foster care system better than the foster kids themselves,” Peters said. “It’s much easier to learn the areas where the system is lacking if we can hear directly from the children in the program.”

Senate Bill 1743 mandates the Department of Children and Family Services to develop, process and administer a standardized survey to gather feedback from youth who are currently aging out or who have recently aged out of the foster care system. The aim is to help DCFS and supporting agencies identify deficiencies in the system by learning about them from the people directly affected by them, leading to changes in policy to help address these issues.

The bill passed the Senate with unanimous support. It was the first bill sponsored by Peters to pass through the Senate and on to the House of Representatives since he joined the Senate in January.

“It’s an honor to have passed my first bill,” Peters said. “I’m confident that this is the start of a productive year in the Senate.”

Category: Press Releases

 

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