When a parent has been charged with abuse or neglect of a child, the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) will become involved throughout the case. The main goal of DCFS, as well as the court, in deciding the best placement option for the child is to resolve the matter in the best interest of the child.
The DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) is a governmental organization that conducts investigations of child abuse and/or neglect cases. Several states, including Illinois, have a DCFS agency. They have been involved in many high profile cases of alleged child abuse such as the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, as well as in the lives of hundreds of people we come into contact with every day. For someone who has just been investigated by DCFS, he may want to prepare himself for the many types of hearings a typical DCFS case will involve. The following provide a brief description of the several types of hearings to be expected following the initial investigation.
If you have been reported to DCFS for the abuse or neglect of your child, you will most likely be facing a lengthy series of court hearings. The very first hearing you will be required to attend, after a DCFS investigator has determined who will be granted temporary protective custody, is called a shelter care hearing. A shelter care hearing is an emergency hearing at which a judge will determine whether allowing the child to remain at home will present a danger to the child, and whether or not DCFS should take protective custody for an extended amount of time. The following describe what you should expect at a shelter care hearing.
Chances are, if you have had access to any source of media within the last week, you have heard the disturbing story of Ariel Castro and the Cleveland kidnappings. At this point, many questions are still left unanswered, and America is once again left wondering how someone could do such horrific things to innocent individuals. As we witness one of the most shocking news stories of 2013, and rejoice in the discovery of the three young ladies, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, we must do more than simply observe and speculate. While Ariel Castro has received a great amount of media coverage, he is only one of many sick and twisted abductors who have abandoned any sense of morale and stolen the lives of young, innocent children. It is our duty as American citizens, as neighbors, as parents, and as friends to educate ourselves on how we can prevent such atrocities from happening.
Being indicated by DCFS can be one of the most challenging times in one's life. Fortunately, those being investigated are entitled to their own rights. Upon being indicated for a child abuse or neglect finding, the standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the State is responsible for providing necessary evidence to prove the finding. Unfortunately, DCFS investigations are commonly wrongly indicated. Once indicated, the alleged perpetrator's name will be in the DCFS State Central Register for a varying amount of time, depending on the seriousness of the allegations. If you have been indicated by DCFS for child abuse or neglect, and believe your case to be unfounded (meaning the State has not provided sufficient evidence to support the finding) you have the right to challenge or appeal the indicated finding. The following list provides a few necessary measures one should take in order to appeal an indicated report.
Any situation in which DCFS is involved can be absolutely frightening for the family being investigated. The uncertainty of the future of one's child can be one the most stressful times in one's life. If your family is facing child abuse or neglect allegations, it is important to be advised on how you should handle an investigation by DCFS. Once a case enters the DCFS system, a case worker will launch an investigation often involving a "safety plan." A safety plan, part of Illinois' CERAC (Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol), is a temporary living arrangement designed to ensure absolute protection for a child during the investigation of abuse or neglect in a household. This arrangement typically requires the temporary separation of parent and child, which can be a nightmare for parents. The controversy surrounding safety plans lies in the fact that DCFS often will enforce a safety plan without a significant amount of evidence for abuse or neglect. Nevertheless, if urged to sign a safety plan, it is in the best interest of the parent to cooperate. The following provide a few reasons why cooperation is of utmost importance.