What Rights Do Parents Have When Dealing with DCFS in Illinois?

Mar 25, 2024 | Uncategorized

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for protecting the welfare of the state’s children. One of the ways it fulfills this duty is by conducting investigations into reported cases of child abuse and neglect.

Illinois parents may find themselves interacting with DCFS if someone reports them for child abuse or neglect. Individuals may call DCFS to file a report, but the law requires some professionals to report suspected abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters include teachers, doctors, social workers, therapists, and other medical professionals.

Parents should understand their rights when interacting with DCFS officials. An Illinois family law attorney can help protect your rights throughout this process. You have the right to:

  • Refuse Access– You have no obligation to speak with DCFS, allow them into your home, or let them interview your child. However, the investigator can seek a warrant to do so, and lack of cooperation on your part could negatively affect the outcome of the investigation. Additionally, a DCFS officer may still be able to speak to your child if they visit your child’s school.
  • Refuse to Answer Certain Questions– Even if you allow a DCFS employee to interview you, you are not obligated to answer every question they ask or provide every piece of information they seek. Remember that everything you tell the employee can be included in their report, as can your refusal.
  • Have an Adult Present During an Interview with Your Child– If you allow DCFS to interview your child, you have the right to have a trusted adult present. This is the case whether DCFS interviews your child in your home or at school. If DCFS interviews your child at school, you have the right to know that the interview occurred.
  • Provide Evidence in Your Favor– As DCFS may conduct an investigation into your family, part of their job is to gather evidence to determine whether allegations of abuse or neglect have merit. You have the right to provide DCFS with evidence that proves your innocence, as well as to connect DCFS with witnesses who can attest to your character.
  • Appeal an Indicated Report– When DCFS concludes its investigation, it will notify you that the allegations were either unfounded or indicated, meaning there was evidence of abuse or neglect. You have the right to appeal an indicated report within 60 days. Your family law attorney can help you through the appeal process.
  • Legal Counsel– Most importantly, you also have the right to legal counsel throughout your dealings with DCFS. A knowledgeable Illinois family law attorney can provide the legal advice you need as you navigate this complex system. Your attorney can be present when you meet with DCFS and can engage with DCFS employees on your behalf.

Contacting an attorney before interacting with DCFS helps safeguard your rights and the rights of your family from the outset.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney Today

As an experienced family law attorney, the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C., understands the fear and anxiety that can accompany a DCFS investigation into your family. We’re here to support and advocate for you during this challenging process and will work hard to achieve a favorable outcome for your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation – we look forward to learning about your situation and reviewing your legal options with you.