SPRINGFIELD, IL - tate Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) stood with housing advocates and Governor Quinn Tuesday at the signing of legislation she sponsored to extend state-level legal protections for participants in a federal loan modification program.

“If a struggling homeowner is meeting all the obligations of a federally approved program, that individual and his or her family should not lose their home,” Sen. Collins said. “I commend the Obama administration on its decision to extend the Making Home Affordable program through the end of 2013, and I believe the combination of federal and state foreclosure assistance now available to Illinois residents will do much to alleviate the human, social and economic toll of foreclosure this year.”

The federal Making Home Affordable program, which has helped over one million people nationwide since 2009, is a multi-pronged attack on the foreclosure crisis. The deadline for applying to participate in HAMP, its mortgage modification component, was recently extended until December 31, 2013; it was originally scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012. In 2010, Sen. Collins sponsored legislation requiring courts to invalidate any foreclosure sale that goes forward despite the homeowner’s participation in HAMP. The sale could also be set aside if the bank had failed to meet certain federal requirements, such as providing the homeowner with adequate notice of the foreclosure filing. House Bill 5019 extends these protections until Making Home Affordable’s new sunset date so Illinoisans can continue to participate in the program and stay in their homes.

“Smart lenders understand everybody wins – banks, homeowners, communities and the economy – when more people can afford their payments and stay in their homes,” Sen. Collins said. “Illinois is at the forefront of the effort to stem the tide of foreclosures, and working with the federal government to protect Making Home Affordable participants is one more way we’re winning this battle.”

The legislation also changes the timeline for harmonizing state law with the Dodd-Frank Act so that Illinois lenders are not at a disadvantage while the federal government implements stricter rules against “dual tracking” – the practice of continuing with a foreclosure action while the borrower seeks a loan modification.

PHOTO: State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (yellow jacket) with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and housing advocates at the bill signing for House Bill 5019


Schools now on the front lines of preventing, stopping sexual abuse of children


SPRINGFIELD, IL — Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) spoke at a signing ceremony for “Erin’s Law” and applauded its namesake, Erin Merryn, a victim-turned-advocate who was sexually abused as a child and now campaigns nationwide for policies that protect children from molestation.


“We recognize that schools can and should function as safe havens for children who need desperately to know that sexual abuse is wrong, that it’s not their fault and that they can stop the abuse by telling a trusted adult,” said Sen. Collins, who in 2011 sponsored legislation creating the Erin’s Law Task Force, which issued recommendations incorporated in the law signed today. “I salute Erin Merryn for having the courage to tell her story so other children will not have to endure the abuse she suffered for years.”


House Bill 6193, known as Erin’s Law, requires schools to provide sexual assault and abuse prevention education in an age-appropriate manner for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. Previously only middle and high schools were required to offer this instruction. The new law also allows teachers to receive professional development credit for training in sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention.


The signing ceremony was held at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Hoffman Estates. Ms. Merryn, an Illinois native, received counseling at the center after finally telling her parents about abuse she suffered at the hands of a friend’s uncle and an older cousin. She had been raped and molested repeatedly for five years, but shame and fear kept her from reporting the perpetrators. Since 2010, she has pushed for all states to pass versions of Erin’s Law and testifies that she would have been emboldened to speak up if her school had taught her about unacceptable touch, emphasized that child victims are not at fault in abusive situations and offered resources and a listening ear.


PHOTO: State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), advocate Erin Merryn and Governor Pat Quinn at the bill signing for House Bill 6193 on January 24th, 2013

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Sen. Collins nominated community jazz group for $2,000 donation from AT&T

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Sen. Jacqueline Collins was honored to participate in AT&T's presentation of a $2,000 check to Live the Spirit Residency, a non-profit organization that hosts the Englewood Jazz Festival, offers music instruction to neighborhood youth and sponsors the Live the Spirit big band. She nominated the organization, which enriches life in Englewood by providing high-quality and accessible jazz programming to the public, for AT&T's Investing in Illinois Award.

Sen. Collins (right) is pictured at the December 26 ceremony with Ernest Dawkins (left), internationally renowned artist and founder of Live the Spirit Residency, and Sam Balark (center) representing AT&T.

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ATT Check Presentation resized

 Law emphasizes education, teacher training as keys to ending sexual abuse of children

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) secured passage today of a measure designed to prevent child sexual abuse by educating elementary school students and training school personnel to respond to signs and reports of abuse. She partnered with former sexual abuse victim Erin Merryn, an Illinois native and Western Illinois University graduate who has advocated for similar laws in other states and in Congress. Glamour Magazine featured Erin as 2012 Woman of the Year for her efforts to help other children avoid or escape the kind of abuse she suffered as a young child.

"Passing Erin's Law gives children in Illinois the voice I never had as a child," Erin Merryn said. "We will finally begin educating children to speak up and tell if someone ever abuses or tries to abuse them. That's a lesson that could have saved me years of molestation and rape."

"Part of making our schools safe places is ensuring students can approach a teacher or staff member and receive accurate information and help when they have been abused," Sen. Collins said. "We know that 93 percent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a person the victim already knows, so the 'stranger danger' warning children frequently hear is not sufficient protection."

In 2011, Sen. Collins co-sponsored legislation creating the Erin's Law Task Force. The group released a report in June finding that early education is a child's best defense. Currently, Illinois middle and high schools must provide sexual assault and abuse education, but there is no similar requirement for elementary schools. Erin's Law (House Bill 6193) requires schools to provide this instruction in an age-appropriate manner for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. It also allows teachers to receive professional development credit for training in sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention. The measure has already passed the House and will now go to the governor for his signature.

"Many perpetrators tell their victims they will be punished, not trusted and listened to, if they report the abuse," Sen. Collins said. "Schools are the best vehicle for making sure all children hear this important message and offering a way out so children will no longer suffer in shame and silence as Erin did."

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Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607


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