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Courts, Children and Families Division | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

(217) 785-4703 (Springfield Office)

Heather Dorsey, Director, Courts, Children and Families Division & The Court Improvement Program

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts created the Courts, Children and Families Division (CCFD) effective May 1, 2020. The Division is a successor to the Courts, Children and Families Unit within the Court Services Division. The Supreme Court of Illinois supported the creation of the Division to expand its work to critical court matters related to children and families.

The CCFD oversees the administration of the federally funded Illinois Court Improvement Program (CIP). The Division works to support the mission, vision, and core values of Illinois’ CIP of ensuring safety and stability for children and families involved in child abuse and neglect proceedings by managing the programmatic and fiscal components of the CIP grant award. As Juvenile Abuse and Neglect case filings increased again in 2021, the CCFD continued to develop the foundation and infrastructure for improved court practices in child protection cases by concentrating its efforts on addressing timely permanency in Illinois, continuing the Child Protection Data Courts Project, collaborating with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and providing training and resources for juvenile court judges and attorneys assigned to child protection cases.

In addition to providing continuation funding for long-term projects, including the Family Advocacy Clinic at the University of Illinois School of Law and the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Southern Illinois University, the CIP funded new projects aimed at enhancing representation for children. In 2021, the Illinois CIP received COVID-19 related funding which was granted to counties to assist with case backlog and enhancing remote hearing capabilities. The CCFD received a grant from the National Center for State Courts to conduct the Dual Status Youth Initiative. The CCFD serves as staff and advisor to the Illinois Judicial College Committee on Guardians ad Litem Education (GALE) and the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Courts.

Child Protection Data Courts Project (CPDC): Through the CPDC Project, the CCFD collects and analyzes child protection court performance measures, demographic information and case characteristics in child abuse and neglect cases. Currently, eight counties collect CPDC Project data. The CPDC Project sites track case demographic information as well as 18 of 30 nationally recognized child protection court performance measures. The project sites are implementing action plans developed, by each county, based on the collected performance measure data that includes a project initiative with goals, action items, responsibilities, timelines, and outcome measures.

Collaboration with the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS): In 2021, the CCFD continued its’ working relationship with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) by continuing to implement the court related strategies included in the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) Program Improvement Plan (PIP) and providing training to judges and attorneys assigned to child protection cases on the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and the Qualified Residential Placement Programs (QRTP) provisions contained in the Act. CCFD staff continues to participate on various DCFS committees and several representatives of IDCFS are members of the Court Improvement Program Advisory Committee.

Dual Status Youth Initiative: The term “dual status” refers to children and youth who come into contact with both the child protection and juvenile justice systems. Through partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center and their multidisciplinary framework, the AOIC seeks to develop strategies for early identification of dual status youth to improve system communication and coordination of services to improve outcomes, with a special focus on those subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.