SimmonsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons is leading a groundbreaking initiative aimed at empowering caregivers to provide culturally competent haircare for youth placed under their care by the Department of Children and Family Services.

“This initiative is designed to promote healthy hair and self-confidence and addresses a critical need in our communities,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Haircare is not just about looking good or feeling pretty. Hair is deeply intertwined with cultural identity and self-esteem. For many youth, especially those from diverse backgrounds, finding appropriate haircare while navigating the foster care system can be a challenge.”

Recognizing this challenge, House Bill 5097 requires DCFS to include a Haircare Plan during case review outlining the necessary training and resources needed to ensure each child receives culturally competent haircare. Simmons’ measure outlines a plan that addresses culturally competent haircare training including preservation of youth’s cultural, gender and religious identities, and guidance for routines that promote healthy hair.

Building off of Simmons’ work highlighting the important ties between hair and cultural identity with his work in 2021 to pass the Jett Hawkins Law, through this initiative Simmons aims to foster a sense of belonging and confidence among youth in care by establishing a framework that safeguards their cultural connection to hair.

“Hair plays a crucial role in nurturing young people's ties to their race, culture and sense of self,” said Simmons. “I believe that when youth feel proud of their hair and heritage, they are better equipped to navigate the world with confidence and resilience. Caregivers must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to offer culturally sensitive hair care.”

House Bill 5097 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. It now heads to the full Senate for further discussion.