Connecting Chicago Youth to Healthcare

Primary Healthcare 
  • Primary care is what most people think of when they think of health care – seeing doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. These clinicians are responsible for addressing most of the nation’s health care needs and developing trusting relationships with patients. The care should be person-centered and designed to achieve better health, better care, and lower costs, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) offer comprehensive healthcare services on a sliding scale, including primary care, dental services, and mental health services. 

Reproductive Health 
  • Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing in all matters relating to the reproductive system and its functions and processes. Reproductive health is not merely absence of disease or infection. 
  • Find a clinic that receives federal grants to ensure they provide services regardless of someone’s insurance status or ability to pay: 
    • Title X (ten) Family Planning Clinics are funded to provide a broad range of family planning services and related preventive health services. These include STI and HIV testing, HIV counseling, cervical and breast cancer screening, and HPV vaccines. Services are confidential and provided regardless of patient’s ability to pay and clinics charge for services on a sliding fee scale. 
    • Federally Qualified Health centers are community-based organizations that are funded to deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary healthcare services, regardless of patients’ ability to pay, and charge for services on a sliding fee scale. 

Youth Access to Healthcare in Illinois

  • Typically, parents must give consent before their minor child can receive health care services. However, minor children have the right to self-consent to confidential and sensitive health care services such as sexual and reproductive health care, mental health services, and alcohol and drug use treatment. 
    • Consent is defined as the permission to act 
    • Confidentiality refers to how providers and their staff keep certain information private 
  • Primary Care and Confidential Care 
    • Primary care is the primary point of entry for people into the healthcare system. Clinicians such as doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants work to address general medical concerns and conduct referrals to specialists when the need arises. Primary care is a person-centered approach to treatment and aims to build trusting relationships with patients and achieve better health at a lower cost. 
      • For example, routine physical exams with a general practitioner to address patient questions or concerns are one form of primary care. 
      • Other examples include school physicals, treatment of illnesses such as strep throat, and immunizations. 
    • Confidentiality refers to information that is kept private between the patient and provider. Confidential services may include tests, screenings, counseling services, or treatment for private and sensitive healthcare needs such as sexual health, drug and alcohol use, and mental health services. 
  • There are three instances in which a minor can self-consent to healthcare without a parent or guardian: 
    • Minors with power to consent to all medical care 
      • In Illinois, minors who are married, pregnant, or parenting can consent to all of their own medical care. Youth seeking abortions fall into this category. Additionally, parental notice of a minor seeking an abortion is no longer required in Illinois as of June 1, 2022. There is no lower age limit for abortion care in the state. 
    • Unaccompanied minors 
      • Unaccompanied minors in Illinois have the power to consent to primary medical care. To be considered an accompanied minor, the child must be 14 years old or over and also
        • Is living separately from their parent or guardian (NOT necessary emancipated by a court); 
        • Is managing their own personal affairs; 
        • Is unable or unwilling to return to their parent or guardian’s residence; AND 
        • The healthcare professional reasonably believes the minor understands the benefits and risks of the service; AND 
        • The minor is identified in writing as a “minor seeking care” by an adult relative, an Illinois attorney, a school social worker or homeless liaison, a representative of a homelessness services agency, a representative of a religious organization, or a social service agency that provides services to at risk, homeless, or runaway youth. 
    • Minors aged 12 and older 
      • Otherwise, in Illinois, dependent children aged 12 and older can consent to medical treatment without the involvement of their parent or guardian for specific confidential services, such as: 
        • Treatment for medical emergencies 
        • Medical treatment and counseling related to criminal sexual abuse or an assault 
        • Testing, screening, counseling, and treatment related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV 
        • Treatment, counseling, and preventative care for drug and alcohol use 
        • Outpatient mental health treatment, limited to eight 90-minute sessions of counseling or psychotherapy 
        • Birth control services 

Connecting Youth to Healthcare

Most primary care services require parental consent for a child to receive them. In Illinois, there are a handful confidential services that children over certain ages can receive without parental consent. Review this page to learn more. 

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