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Institutional Review Board

All research involving children and families receiving services from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS, also referred to as "the department") must be approved by the department's Institutional Review Board (IRB). Research involving staff, foster parents, grantees and contractors of the department may also require IRB review. For complete guidelines, please refer to DCFS Rules and Procedures 432: "Protection of the Human Subjects of Research". It is also expected that all protocols will follow the federal regulations 45 CFRF Parts 50 and 56, described in the "Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects," published in the June 18, 1991, Federal Register.

Federal regulations concerning the use of children and other classes of vulnerable people may restrict the research that can be conducted with children and families receiving services from the department. Specifically,

  1. Youth in care cannot be used as subjects in research involving greater than minimal risk, in which there is no benefit either directly to the child or to the class of children who are youth in care. An exception to this rule may be made when the majority of the sample does not consist of youth in care, but the child's school, camp, hospital, or other similar institution has been selected to participate in the research.

  2. Youth in care cannot be selected as the majority of the subjects in a study solely on the basis of their convenience to the researcher, regardless of the cost entailed in obtaining subjects from another population.

  3. An advocate who is not compensated by the research project must be appointed for youth in care whenever research involves more than minimal risk, unless the research provides direct benefit to the child and the relation of the benefit to the risk is at least as favorable to the subjects as that presented by available alternative approaches.

Review and approval by the department's IRB does not constitute consent for participation in research, nor does it assure that consent for research participation will be granted for youth in care. Approval by the IRB indicates that the research was found to adequately protect the rights of human subjects as presented to the IRB. Investigators are responsible for obtaining consent to participate from all subjects who are 18 years of age; written assent from subjects 12 years of age and older; and consent from all parents who retain guardianship of any children to be involved in research. For children under the guardianship of the state, consent must be obtained from the guardianship administrator.

In order to conserve natural resources and provide for an expedient review, the IRB prefers to receive proposals via email or in electronic format submitted on disk or CD. If you cannot submit your proposal, with all of the required components electronically, then you must submit ten (10) paper copies.

The DCFS IRB meets on a monthly basis, generally on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Research proposals must be received no later than one week prior to the scheduled meeting in order to be placed on the meeting agenda.


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