The Illinois African American Family Commission develops, evaluates and advocates for public policies, plans, research and programs that will strengthen and preserve families, family economics, workforce participation, health status, safety, education and training, and quality of life for African Americans.
“The Illinois African American Family Commission is a catalyst that facilitates partnerships between government entities and communities to ensure a safe, healthy and secure environment for African American children and families, throughout the state of Illinois.”
The Illinois African American Family Commission (Commission) was formerly known as the African American Family Commission. The African American Family Commission was created in 1994 to assist the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) in developing and implementing programs relevant to African American families. In August 2004, Public Act 093-0867 expanded the scope of the Commission. The purpose of the Illinois African American Family Commission is to guide the efforts of and collaborate with various state agencies, including but not limited to: the Department on Aging, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Aid, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Transportation, and others to improve and expand existing human services and educational and community development programs for African Americans. The Commission is a fifteen-member statewide commission whose members are appointed by the Governor of Illinois. The Commission is comprised of community leaders, child welfare professionals, ministers, parents, business leaders, educators and community activists dedicated to enhancing the welfare of children and families.
IAAFC Historical Timeline
The Beginnings 1993 – 1994
- The African American Family Policy and Family Preservation Task Force (AAFPTF) convenes focus groups throughout the state of Illinois to discuss the needs of African American families and the effects of the social welfare system on housing, jobs, drugs and crime.
- Presentation made by AAFPTF at the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Annual Meeting, which included a recommendation for an African American Family Commission.
- Request for an African American Family Commission discussed with the Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) and the Executive Assistant to the Governor.
- African American Family Commission created on October 3, 1994, by Executive Order Number Seven.
- First African American Family Commission (AAFC) meeting held November 16, 1994.
Early Implementation 1995 – 1996
- First Annual Retreat held in Chicago to establish roles and functions, which included Advocates, Institution Builders, Policy Developers, Research Strategists, Program Analysts, Model Builders and Standard & Value Bearers.
- Family Preservation Program Initiative launched to develop non-traditional programs serving African Americans. Eighteen community-based organizations participated.
- Home of Relative Seminar held in Chicago to discuss issues surrounding the placement of children with relative caregivers.
- Managed Care Conference held to educate participants about managed care and prepare providers and clinicians for work in a managed care environment.
- CHILD WATCH program developed to increase the community’s awareness of child abuse and neglect, and provide a proactive response to children entering the child welfare system.
- Provided legislative analysis on several bills and administrative rules that included juvenile justice, substance abuse and child welfare issues.
- Met with representatives of the Chicago Public School System to discuss the Living and Learning Centers. This meeting resulted in preventing the implementation of a program, which would have unnecessarily removed children from their homes. The Commission advocated for comprehensive family centered community-based programs.
- Advised IDCFS on using wards as subjects in “The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods: Violence Initiative.”
- Participated on several IDCFS committees including the Inter-Agency Authority on Residential Facilities for Children, Front Door Redesign, and Family Centered Services.
- Convened focus groups with human service providers to discuss the creation of the Illinois Department of Human Services.
- Assisted IDCFS in designing the “Request for Proposal to Evaluate the Subsidized Guardianship Project (SGP).” AAFC advocated for hiring individuals receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and for contracting with community‑based organizations to conduct the research related to the evaluation of the project.
Formative Years 1997 – 2000
- Submitted recommendations for the State Plan for TANF recipients.
- Submitted recommendations regarding the reorganization of services for the Department of Human Services.
- Continued child abuse and neglect prevention education presentations and public service announcements for the CHILD WATCH program. Also, developed CHILD WATCH clusters on the west and south sides of Chicago and Cook County South Suburban area.
- Developed a research proposal to measure the impact of welfare reform on the child welfare system.
- Planned and assisted IDCFS with the Subsidized Guardianship Research Demonstration Bidders Conference.
- Provided seminars for child welfare providers regarding Performance-Based Contracting and Accreditation.
- Assisted the Illinois Department of Public Health in evaluating sexual assault services.
- Conducted Welfare Reform Impact Analysis.
- Presented the Commission’s first “State of the African American Family Symposium”.
- Co-sponsored with the Illinois Child Care Association a National Child Welfare Summit focusing on legal and legislative options to address the impact of the Interethnic Placement Act, Multiethnic Placement Act and the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
- Submitted recommendations to IDCFS for strengthening the child welfare system.
- In conjunction with members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, assembled a Blue Ribbon Panel of judges and lawyers to review proposed legislation to expunge criminal records of individuals convicted of non-child endangerment crimes.
- Held the first annual awards ceremony and reception recognizing the “Foster Parent of the Year.”
- Reviewed proposed child welfare legislation and administrative rules regarding definition of child abuse and neglect, expulsion and suspension of public school students, and secure childcare facilities.
- Advocated for the Congressional Black Caucus to include subsidized guardianship as a reimbursable permanency option under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
- Continued to serve on several IDCFS workgroups including Infrastructure, Child Welfare Advisory Committee, Adoption Advisory Group, etc.
Progressive/Transformative Years 2001 – 2012
- Presented at the Congressional Black Caucus Town Hearing and Annual Conferences on Subsidized Guardianship September 2001.
- Founded the African American Family Research Institute in 2001.
- Received Funding to Conduct a Child Well-being Study in October 2001.
- Executive Order Reauthorized in March 2002.
- New Commissioners Appointed in 2002.
- Consulted with the Children and Family Research Center , School of Social Work , at the University of Illinois at Urbana , Champaign on the 426 Outcome Training Demonstrations in July 2002.
- Testified at the Illinois House Hearings on Automatic Expungement of Misdemeanor Convictions, Advocacy Office and Troubled Youth in 2002.
- Conducted an Orientation for New Commissioners in October 2002.
- Convened the Commissioner’s Retreat in Chicago in February 2003.
- Hosted the “Children and Family Forum” in July 2003.
- Continued to Participate in the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference and Child Welfare Town Meetings September in 2004.
- Testified at the Illinois House Juvenile Justice Committee Hearing on the Improvement of Illinois ’ Juvenile Expungement Laws in October 2003.
- Testified at the Illinois Senate Education Committee Hearing on High School Dropouts in January 2004.
- Released the Social and Economic Profile of African Americans In Illinois in March 2004.
- Convened the Second “State of the African American Family Symposium” in April 2004.
- Conducted a Pilot Study on High School Dropout in Chicago in June 2004.
- African American Family Commission reconstituted as the Illinois African American Family Commission under Public Act 093-0867 in August 2004.
- Conducted Commissioners Retreat in 2004.
- New Commissioners Appointed in January 2005.
- Orientation Conducted for New Commissioners in February 2005.
- Conducted a Membership survey of the Black Executive Directors Coalition to capture information on services and target client populations for each member organization in 2007.
- Conducted the Springfield Expungement Summit in 2008.
- Work supported by the Commission was published in the “Enhancing Permanency for Illinois Children IDCFS Permanency Enhancement Initiative Data and Focus Group Summary in June 2009.
- Conducted the State of the African American Family Symposium: The Migration of Chicago Public Housing Residents in 2010
- Finalized the “Breaking Barriers” study in response to safety and educational issues confronting Chicago Public School students in 2011.
- The Commission previously recommended the creation of a Racial and Ethnic impact Research Task Force to help improve the capacity for measuring, analyzing, and addressing the racial/ethic disproportionality that occurs in the justice system. The Commission served on the task force and its final report was submitted to the General Assembly in 2012.
New Beginnings 2013 – Present
- African American Family Commission reconstituted under Public Act 098-0693 in July 2014.
- The Governor appoints a full fifteen (15) member Commission and names a new Chairman.
- Michael A. Holmes named as the new Executive Director of the Illinois African American Family Commission.
- The Commission focuses on more community outreach and administers programs aimed at economic growth and the creation and sustainability of jobs via funding provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
- The Commission to End the Disparities Facing the African American Community via HB1547 is established by the Governor. This Illinois African American Family Commission provides staff support for the Disparities Commission.
- The Commission facilitates and participates in public hearings throughout the state to allow the direct input of African Americans to be used in the development, implementation, and planning of community-based services.
- Commission staff assist in the development of the Cook Region Transformation Team Strategic Plan that was presented to the DCFS Director and his leadership team. The Director committed to the implementation of the Team’s 29* recommendation on 16 issues in identified key areas.
- The Commission analyzes the data and prepares a final report to present the findings of the “Meaning of Family” Survey conducted by the Progressive Partners Action Team (PPAT) in response to the lack of an official definition of “family” within the DCFS rules and procedures. As a result, DCFS has agreed to create and expand the definition of a family.
- The Commission analyzes the data and prepares a final report to present the findings of the “Birth Parent” Survey conducted by the “It Takes A Village” Action Team (ITAT) to inform the development of an orientation session for birth parents upon entry into DCFS that helps to educate parents regarding DCFS procedures and improve return-home rates.
- The Commission serves as a member of the Court Improvement Racial Equity Steering Committee, formed as a component of the DCFS Permanency Enhancement Initiative. The Committee develops a training curriculum to provide those members of the judiciary, who preside over abuse/neglected and delinquency courts, with a 1 ½ day training on understanding systemic and/or institutionalized racism and a model for change to improve permanency outcomes for the states’ children of color. As a follow-up, Commission staff assist in creating a Bench Card training for Judges.
- Commission staff serve on the Best Practice Committee of the School Success Task Force. Public hearings were held and participants advocated for services to ensure school success. The Commission assists in finalizing recommendations for the final report to the General Assembly.
List of state agencies identified in Public Act 098-0693 that IAAFC is mandated to work with.
- State Board of Education
- Board of Higher Education
- Illinois Community College Board