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AOIC Announces Creation of Courts, Children and Families Division

April 28, 2020

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts announced this month the creation of a Courts, Children and Families Division (Division), effective May 1, 2020. Heather Dorsey will serve as Assistant Director of the new Division.

“I’d like to thank the Supreme Court and Director Meis for their vision in the creation of the Courts, Children and Families Division,” Dorsey said. “We look forward to assisting the needs of the courts by providing resources, best practices and developing projects and training on issues impacting children and families.”

The new Division, a successor to the Courts, Children and Families Unit (CCFU) within the Court Services Division, will continue to administer the Court Improvement Program (CIP), collaborate with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and provide staff support to various committees. CIP grant funding is awarded to the administrative office of the courts in each state in order to improve the court response to child protection cases. Those dollars are distributed to sub-grantees, provides for judicial and attorney training on child protection, funds collaborative projects and supports the Child Protection Data Courts (CPDC) Project. The CPDC Project collects Child Protection Court Performance Measures, demographic information and workload data in ten counties. Data is used for system improvement and to inform the objectives and focus of the Illinois CIP. 

The creation of the new Division will allow for an expanded focus from child protection to other issues related to youth and families, including dually involved youth (youth involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems), domestic violence, and human trafficking. The Division will work in tandem with the Probation Services Division to look at ways to improve system communication for dually involved youth and will coordinate with other Divisions on domestic violence and human trafficking related efforts.

The Division is also responsible for staffing the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Courts, the Guardian ad Litem Education Committee, and the Judicial Leadership Summit on Child Welfare Team.

Ms. Dorsey joined the Administrative Office in December 2009 as Court Services Manager of the CCFU, where she has managed CIP grant distribution and supported various Supreme Court and Judicial College committees throughout the past 10 years. Prior to joining the Administrative Office, Ms. Dorsey was the Senior State Council Coordinator for the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Councils where she worked to improve the system response to women, men, and children experiencing family violence by providing training and collaborating with the criminal justice and court systems, state and local social service agencies, schools and health care providers. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Sociology from Western Illinois University.