Can DCFS Talk to My Child Without My Consent in Illinois

Jun 20, 2024 | Family Law

When the Illinois DCFS receives a report of child abuse or neglect, the agency will interview the child to determine the veracity of the report. However, because anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect, innocent parents often become the subjects of these intense and frightening investigations. If DCFS has contacted your family, you might be wondering whether the agency can interview your child without your consent.


Understanding DCFS

 The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has several missions, including protecting children from abuse or neglect, supporting families’ capacity to care for children, providing for the well-being of children in DCFS’s custody, providing appropriate homes for children who cannot return to their parents, and engaging in early intervention to prevent child abuse.


Most DCFS investigations begin with a call to the agency’s hotline that reports suspected child abuse or neglect. Although anyone can report suspected abuse or neglect, certain professionals qualify as “mandated reporters” who must report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, including physicians, therapists, teachers, and social workers.


When Can DCFS Interview Children Without Parental Consent?

 After DCFS receives a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, a DCFS investigator will want to interview the child and the child’s parents or caregivers. Parents or guardians can refuse to let investigators enter their home or speak with their child at home. However, a DCFS investigator can interview children without parental consent at the child’s school or daycare. Investigators can also obtain a warrant from a court to compel parents or guardians to produce their child for an interview. Furthermore, a parent’s refusal to cooperate with a DCFS investigation may serve as adverse evidence in a subsequent court proceeding.


Finally, when DCFS believes that a child faces imminent danger from further abuse or neglect, they can conduct an emergency removal and take protective custody of the child, after which investigators can interview the child. DCFS must obtain court approval of the emergency removal within 48 hours or the end of the next business day if the end of the 48 hours falls during the weekend.


Parents’ Rights in DCFS Investigations

 Parents who become the subject of DCFS investigations have rights and legal options. First, parents have the right to understand the reason(s) for the investigation and to obtain the name and contact information of the DCFS investigator. Parents can also request the presence of a trusted adult during any interviews between a DCFS investigator and their child.


Parents also have the right to consult with an attorney before choosing to speak to a DCFS investigator and to have their attorney communicate with DCFS on their behalf. Furthermore, when DCFS conducts an emergency removal and takes protective custody of a child, the child’s parents have the right to a supervised visit within 14 days of DCFS taking protective custody.


Contact an Illinois Family Attorney Today

 If DCFS has contacted your family, it is crucial to seek immediate legal representation to protect your rights and interests. Contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C., today for a confidential consultation with experienced family law attorney Bradley Tengler. He will be ready to discuss your situation and help you protect your family.