DCFS and your family

Buffalo Grove Law Offices handles matters in which your life has been impacted by DCFS.

Our office has worked with the Family Defense Center (familydefensecenter.net) on a number of cases.  The Family Defense Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate justice for families in the child welfare system. They advocate for families who need their help the most: families threatened with losing their children to foster care.

Reports of Abuse or Neglect and Your Family The DCFS Hotline is available to take reports of abuse or neglect 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, from anyone with relevant information. The job of the DCFS Hotline worker is to:

  1. Talk with the caller to get as much information as possible about the allegation, the alleged victim/s, and the alleged perpetrator, and
  2. Determine whether the harm, as described by the caller, is considered to be abuse, neglect, or dependency under the law and DCFS guidelines.

If the Hotline intake worker feels the caller’s information meets these criteria, the worker will take the report and transmit it immediately to the local Child Protection Investigation Unit.

Caller Confidentiality: The identity of all callers to the DCFS Hotline is confidential and will not be released to the person/s who are investigated as a result of a report unless a court or administrative order is issued to release the caller’s name. Anonymous caller’s reports will also be taken, if the criteria for taking the report are met.

Child Protection Investigation: The local Child Protection Investigator responds to the reports faxed by the DCFS Hotline by investigating the caller’s allegations.

  • Unfounded Report: If an investigator finds no credible evidence of abuse or neglect, he/she will show the allegations as unfounded in his/her report.

  • Indicated Report: If an investigator finds credible evidence of abuse or neglect, he/she will show the allegations as indicated in his/her report.

Leaving a Child in the Home: After investigating the allegations, the Child Protection Investigator may decide not to remove the child from the parent’s home if they are not in immediate danger.

  • No Court Monitoring: The family voluntarily accepts DCFS services. These are called “intact cases.” Families who need help may receive services from DCFS. DCFS opens an intact family case and works with the family. Intact family cases may not be screened into Juvenile Court by the caseworker unless there is a need for additional monitoring or court intervention.

  • Court Monitoring: It appears that a Court Order of Protection would enable the child to remain with the parents. The Child Protection Investigator presents the case to the State’s Attorney to determine whether the facts of the case support asking the judge to issue an Order of Protection. A Court Order of Protection lists the services in which the parents and family must participate, and the actions the parents need to take or not take for the child to remain at home. The judge, after hearing the facts, may either issue the Order of Protection as requested, may order the child to be taken into temporary custody (TC), or may dismiss the case entirely if the facts of the case do not support keeping the case open (this is unusual). Even if the judge closes the court case, DCFS may decide to keep the child welfare care case open to help the child and family.

Removing a Child from the Home: A DCFS Investigator will assess the safety of the child using a risk assessment protocol (Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol/CERAP) to help him/her make a decision about whether or not the child is in immediate danger. The Child Protection Investigator is authorized to take the child into temporary protective custody (PC) if there appears to be urgent and immediate necessity to remove him or her from home for the child’s own protection. In this case, a Temporary Custody Hearing (or a Shelter Care Hearing) must be scheduled in Juvenile Court within 48 hours (excluding weekends and court holidays) of the child being taken into protective custody. Police officers and physicians may also take children into protective custody if they believe the child is in immediate danger. After taking custody, they call the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline.

The above information is from www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. The “Guide for Parents Juvenile Court Abuse & Neglect Proceedings” can be downloaded from their website.

Please visit the Family Law Articles page of this website to read the article, “Class Action Challenges Illinois DCFS Investigator’s Threats in the United States Supreme Court.”

Please visit www.familydefensecenter.net to read the article, “When can parents leave their children alone?”

The Illinois DCFS website is: http://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx; The DCFS Hotline: 800-25-ABUSE; TDD: 800-358-5117 for the hearing impaired.