llinois foster children would benefit from their own Bill of Rights, under a bill that a state House committee has passed. The bill has 27 rights.

This is good for Illinois, James McIntyre told the committee, because it gets us in compliance with federal statutes saying that each state needs to have a set Bill of Rights for their kids. Right now, we have guidelines, and each (providing) agency has (its) own set of rights. McIntyre is a co-founder of the Illinois chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America.

 We're getting children access to it, said the sponsor, State Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford), and putting it all in one concise place.

 Another lawmaker was concerned about enforcement in case somebody does not follow the rules.

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The rights for a foster child:

(1) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where he or she is treated with respect.

(2) To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse, or corporal punishment.

(3) To receive adequate and healthy food, adequate clothing, and, for youth in group homes, an allowance.

(4) To receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health services.

(5) To be free of the administration of medication or chemical substances, unless authorized by a physician.

(6) To contact family members, unless prohibited by court order, and social workers, attorneys, foster youth advocates and supporters, court appointed special advocates (CASAs), and probation officers.

(7) To visit and contact brothers and sisters, unless prohibited by court order. (8) To contact the Advocacy Office for Children and Families established under the Children and Family Services Act or the Department of Children and Family Services? Office of the Inspector General regarding violations of rights, to speak to representatives of these offices confidentially, and to be free from threats or punishment for making complaints.

(9) To make and receive confidential telephone calls and send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.

(10) To attend religious services and activities of his or her choice.

(11) To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child's age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan.

(12) To not be locked in a room, building, or facility premises, unless placed in a secure child care facility licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services under the Child Care Act of 1969.

(13) To attend school and participate in extracurricular, cultural and personal enrichment activities, consistent with the child's age and developmental level, with minimal disruptions to school attendance and educational stability.

(14) To work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level, consistent with State law.

(15) To have social contacts with people outside of the foster care system, including teachers, church members, mentors, and friends.

(16) If he or she meets age requirements, to attend services and programs operated by the Department of Children and Family Services or any other appropriate State agency that aim to help current and former foster youth achieve self-sufficiency prior to and after leaving foster care.

(17) To attend court hearings and speak to the judge.

(18) To have storage space for private use.

(19) To be involved in the development of his or her own case plan and plan for permanent placement.

(20) To review his or her own case plan and plan for permanent placement, if he or she is 12 years of age or older and in a permanent placement, and to receive information about his or her out-of-home placement and case plan, including being told of changes to the case plan.

(21) To be free from unreasonable searches of personal belongings.

(22) To the confidentiality of all juvenile court records consistent with existing law.

(23) To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.

(24) To have caregivers and child welfare personnel who have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in out-of-home care.

(25) At 16 years of age or older, to have access to existing information regarding the educational options available, including, but not limited to, the coursework necessary for vocational and postsecondary educational programs, and information regarding financial aid for postsecondary education.

 (26) To have access to age-appropriate, medically accurate information about reproductive health care, the prevention of unplanned pregnancy, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections at 12 years of age or older.

(27) To receive a copy of this Act and have it fully explained to the child or adult when he or she is placed in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)