• November 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 8

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Helping Primary Caregivers of Youth Manage Serious Behaviors, Avoid State Custody

Illinois has issued a guide for primary caregivers of youth with serious behavioral problems to help prevent custody relinquishment and their entry into the child welfare system. The guide explains Illinois' Specialized Family Support Program (SFSP), a collaborative interagency effort to help caregivers address challenging behaviors and retain custody of their youth.

SFSP provides an intensive 90-day program of crisis services for youth who are ready to leave treatment from a psychiatric hospital but whose parents or guardians are reluctant to take them back home for fear they will harm themselves or another family member. SFPS provides parents and guardians with support services-including case management, assessment and support, and mental health services—to prevent their teens from entering child welfare custody.

The guide outlines program eligibility, the referral process, requirements for parental (or guardian) participation, what caregivers can expect from SFSP, a list of available services, how to access therapeutic support services or what to do in the event of a mental health crisis, the role of the interagency clinical team, and how to file grievances and make appeals.

To participate in SFSP, parents or guardians must sign an agreement allowing the youth to return home with them and complete all available applications for public assistance (e.g., medical assistance, social security benefits, supplemental security income, other state behavioral programs).

The guide, Specialized Family Support Program (SFSP): Guide for Parents or Guardians, is available at https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/SFSP_ParentGuide.pdf  (379 KB).

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