Through our policy and legislative efforts, FCAN works to change public policies to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by the HIV and AIDS. Below is our current policy agenda. For additional questions regarding policy updates, contact our Program Director,
. We encourage consumers and community members to take action in the fight against HIV.
FCAN’s Current Policy Efforts:
Backup Planning for older or ill caregivers: FCAN supports “backup” planning for families that adopt or take guardianship of children in state custody when a new caregiver is ill, elderly, or has passed away. FCAN works with a consortium of organizations on this issue, including AARP, the Chicago Task Force on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, the Illinois State Force on Grandparents and other Relatives Raising Children, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). DCFS agreed to begin a pilot program for elderly and frail caregivers, which is now in its third year. FCAN currently co-chairs the advisory committee for the pilot program. In addition, FCAN has played a critical role in the writing of House Bill 4212, which, if passed into law, will develop and administer a program of information and services for caregivers, particularly older caregivers, of children previously in the custody of DCFS. House Amendment No. 1 to SB 381 passed both houses and is on its way to the governor for signature.
Restoring Parental Rights: FCAN has formed a Roundtable Committee to examine the issue of restoring parental rights to parents who are ready, willing and able to re-parent their children. In some cases, parents who have previously been substance-affected are ready to re-parent; however, legal procedures must be followed to evaluate the child’s safety and best interest. This effort will lead to increased stability for families when a parent has successfully completed treatment and is ready to reunite with their children. The Roundtable Committee includes FCAN, AIDS Legal Council, Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, the Office of the Cook County Public Defender, CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers), and DCFS. Another goal for the group is to help siblings who have been separated by adoption maintain their relationships.
Decisions Regarding Health and Education: A child’s parent or guardian has the power to authorize short-term guardianship decisions. Since becoming the law in 1994, many families have used short-term guardianship to successfully provide temporary care for children while they are ill or otherwise unable to provide care. However, some grandparents and other caregivers have encountered problems with the 60-day limitation. Military or work assignments away from home frequently last more than 60 days. Ill parents who sign forms may lose the capacity to make decisions during the 60-day period. In these situations, children are at risk of being placed in DCFS custody and need educational and medical decisions to be made by caregivers chosen by their families. FCAN collaborated with AARP, City of Chicago, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Child Care Association of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Illinois Department of Aging, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Lydia Home Association, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, and Health and Disability Advocates to promote awareness regarding caregiver problems and the potential value of this proposed legislation. During the last session of the Illinois General Assembly, a bill to extend the effective period of short-term guardianships was passed. HB 913 (now PL 95-056), Extending Short-Term Guardianship for Minors Helping Families Provide Safe, Temporary Care for Children, extends the period of time for which a short-term guardian can be designated for a minor from a renewable term of 60 days to 365 days. The new law became effective June 1, 2008.
Continuing advocacy to repeal Illinois’ HIV School Principal Notification Law. Illinois is one of only five states that mandate disclosure of the pupil’s HIV status to any school official. Illinois alone mandates disclosure to the school principal. This 1987 law requires the health department to report the name of an HIV-positive child to the principal of the child’s school. The principal may then notify others in the school. This law is outdated, and discourages teenagers – a growing population in this epidemic – from being tested for HIV. With the implementation of universal precautions in 1994, this law is now obsolete and is in conflict with Illinois’ AIDS Confidentiality Act and HIPAA. A coalition of HIV advocates for children and youth, including FCAN, the Illinois School Nurses’ Association, the Chicago Public Schools, the Children’s Place Association, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, and AIDS Foundation of Chicago, have worked over the past year to provide education to policy makers about the need to repeal the current law.
Breaking News... On May 23, 2013, the Illinois Senate passed House Bill 61, which repeals the state's outdated, harmful HIV School Principal Notification law! Now on to Governor Quinn for signature. Once the bill is signed into law by the Governor, students and their families will no longer need to fear that their HIV status will be known at school. This will help more youth feel free to be tested for HIV and get themselves into care when needed.
Great work by a coalition of advocates that has been working at this for years, including FCAN, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Lurie Children's Hospital, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Chicago Department of Public Health. And most of all, great work by youth and families on behalf of those in schools now and in the future - your advocacy really will make a difference in the lives of HIV-positive students and their families!