The parental rights of both mother and father of the minor child were terminated. Based on a hotline call to DCFS, G.V. was taken immediately into the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The call was made by a caseworker from a DCFS parallel agency in Connecticut. This is where the mother had previously lived.

The information DCFS received was that the mother’s two other children had been removed from her care. Her oldest child lived with the child’s father. The mother’s rights to the other child were in the process of being terminated by the Connecticut court.

The information also included that the mother’s father, with whom she was living in Illinois, had lost his parental rights to her when she was a child due to physical and sexual abuse. DCFS had filed a petition that alleged that G.V. was neglected based on an injurious environment.

The State presented the placement supervisor for DCFS as its witness. The State submitted the DCFS investigatory report. Both mother and father objected to the admission of the report on the basis of foundation. They maintained that after the first three or four pages, the report was inadmissible hearsay.

The mother also objected on the basis the report was not a business record. So, it could not be admitted under that hearsay exception. The State maintained that the entire report was an indicated report. The State argued the report should be admitted as evidence.

The trial court sustained the objection as to business records. However, it found that the report was admissible as an indicated report. Mother and father appealed.

The Appellate Court said that the parents had been denied due process when the trial court relied on impermissible hearsay in the DCFS investigatory report. The report contained substantial amounts of information that was unverified. The report lacked any supporting documentation.

‘We do not imply that the information DCFS provided at the adjudicatory hearing was inaccurate or misleading. Our concern is that the information was provided and accepted without any verified basis in the record.’

The proper remedy is to vacate all orders entered on and after the adjudicatory hearing and begin anew with the wardship proceedings.

In re G.V., 2018 IL App (3d) 180272 (October 5, 2018)

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