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.
Any parent who has dealt with the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) knows that the process can be quite unnerving. In some cases, DCFS may take a child into protective custody if investigative measures reveal evidence of child abuse or neglect. In the event that DCFS takes custody of an abused or neglected minor, the Department will consider the best interests, health and safety of the child in determining the next course of action as it relates to placement 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.