In August, Governor Pritzker signed a bill into law to help schools properly address childhood trauma with trained teachers, administrators and staff. At least 40% of children in Illinois have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. At least 10% of youth across the state have had three or more adverse experiences. Hispanic and Black children are impacted at a much higher rate.
Adverse childhood experiences or ACES, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:
- Experiencing violence, abuse or neglect
- Witnessing violence in the home or community
- Having a family member attempt or die by suicide.
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability , and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
- Substance abuse problems
- Mental health problems
- Instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison.
ACES are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education, job opportunities, and earning potential.
In an effort to address the impact of trauma on children, the Illinois State Board of Education will be required to develop a Children’s Adversity Index to measure community childhood trauma exposure for kids three to 18 years old by May 31, 2025. Although some school districts are providing mental health services to address trauma these interventions are not systemic and depend on the efforts of individual community leaders and school districts. Teacher institutes will be required to provide instruction of trauma-informed practices.
Public Act 103-47 amends the School Code provisions to include the definition of bullying targeting based on physical appearance, socioeconomic status, academic status, pregnancy, parenting status, and homelessness. This law requires that a school district’s bullying procedures for informing parents or guardians of all students in the alleged incident of bullying within 24 hours after the school’s administration is made aware of the incident. Requires that all individual instances of bullying, as well as threats, suggestion, or instances of self-harm be reported to the parents or legal guardians of those involved under the guidelines provided. Effective June 9, 2023.
Guardian Ad Litem: Public Act 103-126 amends the guardian ad litem (GAL) statute in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to clarify and resolve issues with the duties of the GALs. These changes are as follows: 1)Requiring a written report or recommendations not less than 30 days before a final hearing or trial unless the court directs otherwise. It also allows the judge to direct that the GAL propose an allocation order in addition to the written report or recommendations. This is to prevent having a surprise GAL recommendation at trial with no written proposal in advance. 2) It also allows for the written report or recommendations are to be admitted in evidence without the need for any foundation. 3) Gives the GAL, at the discretion of the court, to : a) to be present for all proceedings, including in camera examinations of the child; b) issue subpoenas for records as part of his or her investigation; and c) file pleadings related to procedural matters. Effective Jan.1, 2024.Share on Facebook