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08/02/96 LAWRENCE M. ET AL. MINORS (THE DEPARTMENT

August 2, 1996

IN RE LAWRENCE M. ET AL., MINORS (THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ET AL., APPELLANTS).


The Honorable Justice Harrison delivered the opinion of the court: Justice Miller dissenting: Justices Heiple and McMORROW join in this dissent. Justice Heiple, also dissenting:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harrison

The Honorable Justice HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court:

In these consolidated interlocutory appeals, we are asked to decide whether the circuit court has the authority under section 2--10 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/2--10(2) (West 1994)) to enter orders requiring the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to provide and pay for in-patient drug treatment services for mothers whose children were removed from their custody due to their mothers' drug-related neglect of them. On nine separate occasions in 1993 and 1994, DCFS appealed from the entry of such orders by the circuit court of Cook County, juvenile division (hereinafter juvenile court). The appellate court consolidated the appeals, and affirmed the juvenile court orders in all but two instances. *fn1 269 Ill. App. 3d 253, 645 N.E.2d 1069, 206 Ill. Dec. 817.

We allowed DCFS's petition for leave to appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 315. Separate appellees' briefs were filed by the office of the Cook County public guardian, on behalf of the minor children, and by the Cook County public defender, on behalf of the minors' parents. "Appellees," as used in this opinion, refers, interchangeably, to the minor children or to their parents. We granted leave to the Austin Christian Law Center; the Children and Family Justice Center of the Northwestern University School of Law; and Illinois Action for Children, the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, and Joyce M. to file amicus curiae briefs in support of appellees. 155 Ill. 2d R. 345.

Initially we note that, in an interlocutory appeal, the scope of review is normally limited to an examination of whether or not the trial court abused its discretion in granting or refusing the requested interlocutory relief. See Dixon Ass'n for Retarded Citizens v. Thompson, 91 Ill. 2d 518, 524, 64 Ill. Dec. 565, 440 N.E.2d 117 (1982); Kellerman v. MCI Telecommunications Corp., 134 Ill. App. 3d 71, 73, 89 Ill. Dec. 51, 479 N.E.2d 1057 (1985), aff'd, 112 Ill. 2d 428, 98 Ill. Dec. 24, 493 N.E.2d 1045 (1986). However, where the question presented is one of law, a reviewing court determines it independently of the trial court's judgment. Best Coin-Op, Inc. v. Old Willow Falls Condominium Ass'n, 120 Ill. App. 3d 830, 76 Ill. Dec. 344, 458 N.E.2d 998 (1983). Moreover, to the extent necessary, a reviewing court may consider substantive issues in order to determine whether the trial court acted within its authority. See Wilson v. Wilson, 217 Ill. App. 3d 844, 859, 160 Ill. Dec. 752, 577 N.E.2d 1323 (1991). In the instant case, DCFS asserts that the juvenile court acted outside its authority in directing DCFS to pay for drug treatment services to the parents of minors before the court because such orders are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, violate the doctrine of separation of powers, and are not authorized by the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/1--1 et seq. (West 1994)). Therefore, to the extent necessary to resolve these substantive issues, we are not limited to the traditional scope of review of an interlocutory appeal. See Dixon, 91 Ill. 2d at 524-25.

We first address the question of sovereign immunity in order to determine whether the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction. DCFS argues that the appellate court erred in holding that the juvenile court orders did not violate the doctrine of sovereign immunity, because each juvenile court order was directed to DCFS, a State agency, to compel the expenditure of State funds. We find little merit in this challenge. While sovereign immunity dictates that the State can be sued only in the Court of Claims, the determination of whether an action is in fact a suit against the State turns upon an analysis of the issues involved and the relief sought, rather than the formal designation of the parties. Currie v. Lao, 148 Ill. 2d 151, 157-58, 170 Ill. Dec. 297, 592 N.E.2d 977 (1992); Healy v. Vaupel, 133 Ill. 2d 295, 308, 140 Ill. Dec. 368, 549 N.E.2d 1240 (1990).

In the present case, the juvenile court sought to compel DCFS, through Gary T. Morgan, its guardianship administrator and the appointed temporary custodian of each of the minors, or Carlton Williams, another DCFS administrator, to fulfill duties it believed were mandated by the Juvenile Court Act. A suit against State officials which seeks to compel them to perform their duty is not held to be a suit against the State even though the duty to be performed arises under a certain statute, and the payment of State funds may be compelled. See In re V.H., 197 Ill. App. 3d 52, 58, 143 Ill. Dec. 751, 554 N.E.2d 686 (1990); Franks v. Tucker, 132 Ill. App. 3d 455, 461, 87 Ill. Dec. 323, 476 N.E.2d 1315 (1985). Therefore, the appellate court did not err in finding that the juvenile court orders at issue here were not barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, where the orders essentially directed DCFS administrators to provide mandated services. 269 Ill. App. 3d 253 at 256-57, 645 N.E.2d 1069, 206 Ill. Dec. 817.

DCFS also contends that the juvenile court orders violated the doctrine of separation of powers because the juvenile court usurped the authority of DCFS to determine the proper services to be provided for the families involved herein. The separation of powers clause provides: "The legislative, executive and judicial branches are separate. No branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another." Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, § 1. However, the doctrine of separation of powers was not designed to achieve a complete divorce among the three branches of government, nor does it require governmental powers to be divided into rigid, mutually exclusive compartments. In re J.J., 142 Ill. 2d 1, 7, 153 Ill. Dec. 239, 566 N.E.2d 1345 (1991). There are instances in which the separate spheres of governmental authority overlap ( In re J.J., 142 Ill. 2d at 7), and this is an excellent example of one of them.

The legislature has designated DCFS as the State agency authorized to provide social services to children and their families which are directed toward, inter alia, "preventing or remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in, the neglect, abuse, exploitation or delinquency of children." 20 ILCS 505/1, 5(a)(3)(B) (West 1994). However, the legislature has also authorized the juvenile court, in dealing with a minor it has probable cause to believe is abused, neglected or dependent, to enter orders for the "provision of services to the minor or his family to ameliorate the causes contributing to the finding of probable cause." 705 ILCS 405/2--10(2) (West 1994). Therefore, the "evil" of the court's usurping the executive discretion of DCFS in providing child welfare services is absent in abuse and neglect proceedings, where both DCFS and the court share the duty of protecting the child's best interest and the goal of preserving families whenever possible. See In re J.J., 142 Ill. 2d at 8-9; see also 325 ILCS 5/2; 20 ILCS 505/5(a)(3)(C), (a)(3)(D); 705 ILCS 405/2--10(2), (9)(d) (West 1994). Indeed, section 8.4 of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (325 ILCS 5/8.4 (West 1994)) requires that DCFS "provide or arrange for and monitor *** rehabilitative services for children and their families on a voluntary basis or under a final or intermediate order of the Court." (Emphasis added.) Thus, where it is clear that the legislature contemplated interplay between DCFS and the juvenile court in deciding the appropriate social services for neglected and abused children and their families, the juvenile court orders involved herein did not violate the doctrine of separation of powers.

Having disposed of these preliminary matters, the central issue presented for our resolution remains: whether the juvenile court, pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act, may order DCFS to provided and pay for in-patient drug treatment services for mothers whose children are removed from their custody due to the mothers' drug-related neglect of them. DCFS argues that the juvenile court has no authority to exercise a power not specifically granted to it by the Juvenile Court Act, and that because there is no statutory authority requiring that DCFS provide and pay for drug treatment services for the parents of minors, the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter the orders in question. However, circuit court jurisdiction is conferred solely by the constitution, except in the limited area of administrative review. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9; In re M.M., 156 Ill. 2d 53, 65, 189 Ill. Dec. 1, 619 N.E.2d 702 (1993). Therefore, contrary to DCFS's assertion, circuit courts no longer seek statutory justification for the exercise of jurisdiction. See In re M.M., 156 Ill. 2d at 75 (Miller, C.J., concurring). Further, while it is true that the constitutional source of a circuit court's jurisdiction does not carry with it a license to act in ways inconsistent with controlling statutory law (see In re M.M., 156 Ill. 2d at 75 (Miller, C.J., concurring)), we need not address that problem here because we believe the applicable statutory provisions support the juvenile court's orders.

It is the purpose and policy of the Juvenile Court Act to preserve and strengthen the minor's family ties, removing him from his family only when his welfare or safety or the protection of the public cannot be adequately safeguarded. 705 ILCS 405/1--2(1) (West 1994). More particularly, section 2--10 of the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/2--10 (West 1994)), which pertains to temporary custody proceedings following the filing of a petition alleging that a minor is abused, neglected or dependent, is part of a comprehensive statutory scheme designed to, in a just and speedy manner, "determine families in need, reunify families where appropriate and, if reunification is inappropriate, find other permanent homes for children." 705 ILCS 405/2--14(a) (West 1994). Section 2--10(2) of the Act provides, inter alia:

"If the minor is ordered placed in a shelter care facility of the Department of Children and Family Services or a licensed child welfare agency, the court shall, upon request of the appropriate Department or other agency, appoint the Guardianship Administrator or other appropriate agency executive temporary custodian of the minor and the court may enter such other orders related to the temporary custody as it deems fit and proper, including the provision of services to the minor or his family to ameliorate the causes contributing to the finding of probable cause or to the finding of the existence of immediate and urgent necessity." (Emphasis added.) 705 ILCS 405/2--10(2) (West 1994).

Appellees argue that the plain language of this section grants the juvenile court the authority to enter orders for the provision of drug treatment services for parents whose addiction has caused or contributed to the minor's placement in shelter care. We agree, not only because the Juvenile Court Act is to be liberally construed to carry out its purpose and policies (705 ILCS 405/1--2(4) (West 1994)), but more importantly, because other statutory provisions make it clear that drug treatment for parents of neglected and abused children was among the services the legislature intended DCFS to provide.

The parties agree that the Juvenile Court Act, the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (325 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 1994)), the Children and Family Services Act (20 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 1994)), and, to some extent, the Illinois Alcoholism and other Drug Dependency Act (20 ILCS 301/1--1 et seq. (West 1994)) must be construed in concert to determine the powers and responsibilities of DCFS in cases involving abuse or neglect resulting from parental drug abuse. Under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, once there is credible evidence that a child is abused or neglected, DCFS must promptly notify the child and his family of DCFS's responsibility to offer and provide "family preservation services." 325 ILCS 5/8.2 (West 1994). Family preservation services are defined in that same section as "all services to prevent the placement of children in substitute care, to reunite them with their families if so placed and if reunification is an appropriate goal, or to maintain an adoptive placement." 325 ILCS 5/8.2 (West 1994). Such services include, but are not limited to, case management services, homemaker, parent education, day care, medical assistance, and counseling, which specifically includes drug and alcohol abuse counseling. 325 ILCS 5/8.2 (West 1994).

The Children and Family Services Act states that DCFS shall have the power to provide direct child welfare services. 20 ILCS 505/5 (West 1994). Section 5(a)(3) provides, in part:

"'Child welfare services' means public social services which are directed toward the accomplishment of the following purposes:

***

(B) preventing or remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in, the neglect, abuse, exploitation or delinquency of children;

(C) preventing the unnecessary separation of children from their families by identifying family problems, assisting families in resolving their problems, and preventing the breakup of the family where the ...


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