(20 ILCS 3983/5)
It is the policy of this State to promote family preservation and to strengthen families.
Latinos are well represented among the families of Illinois. The Illinois Latino population is the fifth largest in the nation. Over 14% of the estimated 12,000,000 people that live in Illinois are Latinos. According to the 2000 Census figures, more than 1,750,000 Latinos make Illinois their home. This figure represents a 69.2% increase from the 1990 Census figures compared to about 3.5% for non-Latinos. The Latino population explosion accounted for two-thirds of the total population change in Illinois and it is visible throughout the State.
In Cook County alone, the Latino population has increased to about 1,071,740. In the 6 county region including Cook County, nearly 69% of new residents were Hispanic. Roughly 23.7% of Kane County residents are Latino. In Lake County, Latinos make up 14.4% of the total county population.
Latinos are not only the fastest growing ethnic group in the State, they are also the youngest. The median age for Latinos in Illinois is 25, compared to 36 for non-Latinos. Despite unprecedented population growth, Latinos lag behind in major indicators of well-being relative to education, health, employment, and child welfare, as well as representation throughout the State. Moreover, Latino children and families present unique linguistic, cultural, and immigration issues for the State.
Latinos have a well-established presence in the child welfare system. Of the total 86,973 children that were reported abused or neglected in Fiscal Year 2001, about 8,442 or 9.7% were Hispanic children. About 25% of these hotline reports were indicated, for a total of 2,155 Latino children in Fiscal Year 2001. As of August 2003, there were about 1,367 open Latino child abuse cases in Illinois. This figure is only slightly lower than the 1,491 open Latino child cases reported for the previous fiscal year. Hispanic cases make up about 6% of all open child cases (excluding adoption assistance and home of parent living arrangement). Latino families receiving services make up about 16% of all intact family cases. It is estimated that between 60% and 80% of all Latino families involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) will need bilingual services at some point during the time their case is open. However, IDCFS struggles to meet the demand for bilingual services. There are similar examples throughout the State demonstrating that Illinois lacks a unified and comprehensive strategy for addressing the unique needs of Latino families.
Latino families remain outside of the margins of opportunities in the State. There are tremendous challenges faced by Latino families and children in the State. Clearly, the growing Latino presence demands that government, child and family advocates, and other key stakeholders come together to identify and implement policy strategies that can create an infrastructure of support for Latino families in the State. Building this needed infrastructure of policies must involve multiple State agencies. The Illinois Latino Family Commission shall lead the effort, advising the Governor and assisting State agencies with this task.
(Source: P.A. 100-201, eff. 8-18-17.)