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Illinois Establishes "Emergency Foster Homes"

George Sheldon

Illinois has created a network of emergency foster care homes.

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says these homes are places youth in the state's care can be sent in lieu of emergency shelters.

Sheldon told a legislative panel Tuesday that there's currently capacity for 36 kids. His goal is to have room for 50.

"Frankly, this state had a series of emergency foster homes a decade or so ago," he said. "I don't know why that was abandoned. I think it's a much more appropriate facility."

This year's initiative to reestablish the emergency foster homes around Illinois comes after a scathing audit published in September. It that found wards of the state were stuck in institutions, like emergency shelters, for hundreds of days. According to a court order, those stays should last at most 30 days.

Under a Sheldon directive, no child under the age of six will be placed in an emergency shelter.

He says that's when kids' brains are developing, and creating bonds is most important.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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