How Long Does It Take DCFS to Investigate a Case in Illinois?

Apr 19, 2024 | Child Custody, Family Law

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has 60 days to complete an investigation, although this timeline can sometimes be extended. A call to the DCFS hotline starts the clock ticking. Under Illinois law, DCFS must maintain a 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline so the public and those professionals with mandated reporting requirements can report suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect.

What Is The Investigation and Adjudication Process? 

Reports received on the hotline are forwarded to a DCFS field office near the child’s home so it can initiate the investigation within 24 hours. The primary goal of the department is the safety of the alleged victims of child abuse or neglect. A DCFS official will observe the child’s environment if the report involves allegations of inadequate shelter or environmental neglect. If the child is in imminent danger of harm, an investigation will be conducted immediately.

As noted above, DCFS has 60 days to complete an investigation and make a final determination. 30-day extensions may sometimes be granted for good cause. DCFS notifies the alleged perpetrator and the child’s caretakers in writing of the department’s final determination when entered in the State Central Register. This notification includes information concerning the appeal process, including how to request an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Within 90 days of the receipt of a timely request for an appeal, the DCFS director will issue a final administrative decision unless that time period is extended by an action of the person filing the appeal. The 90-day time frame may also be extended by a stay pending a final judicial determination of a criminal or juvenile court proceeding related to the same facts and circumstances of the DCFS investigation.

How Can An Attorney Help If You Are Subject to a DCFS Investigation? 

Because DCFS generally has to complete its investigation within 60 days, families may have to endure intense and invasive efforts as the agency examines the family home and circumstances and reviews the allegations of abuse. DCFS employees will likely interview friends and other family members who regularly interact with the child’s immediate family. They may even show up unexpectedly.

It is understandable to feel emotional, even defensive when facing allegations of abuse or neglect of a child. However, these feelings can sometimes lead to uncharacteristically aggressive or irrational behavior, which could substantiate the unfounded allegations. An experienced family law attorney can provide a valuable buffer throughout the investigation process, helping you prepare for interviews with social workers, supporting you during questioning, and advocating to keep your family together.

Contact a Rockford Family Law Attorney Today 

At the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C., we understand that a DCFS investigation at your home can be stressful and nerve-wracking. We also want you to know that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you are subject to an investigation, call Bradley Tengler today to assist you and your family throughout the investigation process and appeals as necessary. We are committed to helping you address unwarranted allegations of abuse and neglect. Contact us today to get started with an initial consultation.