Investigating Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect

 Posted on January 14, 2015 in Child Custody

Illinios child custody attorney, Illinios family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois created the Department of Children and Family Services to provide social and protective services to Illinois children and their families. One of the department’s most important responsibilities is outlined in the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act: DCFS must investigate reports of child abuse or neglect and offer protective services to prevent any further harm from befalling the child. DCFS must keep the best interests of the child in mind throughout this process.

While Illinois law generally assumes that keeping families together is in a child’s best interests, there are situations where DCFS must remove a child from his home. DCFS will only take a child away from his parents if that is necessary to keep the child safe. (Note that the department separates a child from his parents only as a last resort.) The department may ask the family to agree to a safety plan, which typically arranges for either the child or one of the parents to stay elsewhere while DCFS completes its investigation. The plan must be in writing.

If the parents refuse to comply with the safety plan then DCFS can take protective custody of the child for 48 hours. The department can then petition the court to grant DCFS temporary custody so that it can arrange to place the child in foster care. If the petition is denied then DCFS must return the child to his parents at the end of the 48-hour period.

An amendment to the Children and Family Services Act requires DCFS to use its case tracking system to monitor families subject to safety plans. The department must include this data in its annual report. Additionally, all five-day safety plans (i.e., a plan involving the removal of the child or one of the parents to a safe place for a five-day period) must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Be signed by each affected parent or guardian;
  • Be signed by everyone responsible for carrying out the plan; and
  • Be reviewed by a child protection supervisor who certifies that the plan is the least restrictive possible and that DCFS possesses objective reasonable evidence of child abuse or neglect.

DCFS might also ask families to agree to an “intact services” plan that asks the parents to participate in parenting classes or counseling. The plan might also suggest a mental health evaluation or meeting with a social worker. Agreeing to intact services does not require court involvement or placing your child in formal foster care.

If your family is being investigated for suspected child abuse or neglect, contact one of our expereinced Kane County family law attorneys today. We are committed to family preservation and protecting the best interests of your children. Contact us today for a consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.
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