Unfortunately, parents or childcare providers can find themselves as the subject of a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigation. In Illinois, a DCFS report can turn into a criminal investigation, putting a client's future and his/her family's future at risk. If DCFS indicates an individual, they may have their children removed from the home and their name listed on a child abuse database. An indication can also put an individual's job and/or professional license at risk.
Ms. Diambri has expertise in defending clients against DCFS cases: before, during, and after the investigation and/or hearing. She is able to gather evidence in each case that is necessary to support an individual's defense. Having the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital to achieve a favorable result.
OTHER PRACTICE AREAS:
Before a DCFS Investigation
A DCFS investigation is triggered by reports of suspected abuse or neglect. A DCFS investigation begins after the agency receives a phone call on the DCFS hotline from a mandated reporter or any other individual asserting the alleged abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters can include doctors, teachers, and any other individual who works with children. An investigation may begin at this point pending the information that is provided. A single action or allegation may trigger multiple cases or charges within DCFS. Once an investigation is launched, DCFS has 60 days to complete its investigation.
During a DCFS Investigation
Although a DCFS investigation does not typically involve the police, they may become involved depending on the allegation. Typically, a DCFS investigator is in charge of conducting an investigation if law enforcement do not become involved.
Once this formal investigation is launched, the DCFS investigator will begin gathering facts which may even involve visiting the child within 24 hours of the hotline phone call. At this point, the investigator attempts to determine whether there is an imminent threat to the child's safety. The DCFS Investigator may also make the decision to remove the child from his/her home if it is determined the child requires protective custody.
Numerous individuals may be interviewed during a DCFS investigation including the mandated reporter or individual who made the initial call to the hotline in addition to the alleged abuser. Teachers, doctors, and other family or friends may be interviewed during this process as well. The DCFS investigator may also interview the child depending on his/her age.
After a DCFS Investigation
If DCFS determines there is no evidence of abuse or neglect as defined by CPS, that individual and his/her case is classified as "unfounded." If it is determined by DCFS through evidence that an individual abused or neglected a child, they are "indicated." The individual's name will go on the State Central Register which means that they have been deemed a perpetrator of abuse and/or neglect. Even if an individual has been indicated, it is still possible to fight the finding and refrain from his/her name being on the list.
If an indicated individual disagrees with the conclusions of DCFS, they are entitled to appeal the decision. In order to appeal a DCFS finding, an individual must provide notice of intent to appeal. Once this notice is received, a telephonic pre-hearing conference will be conducted. The hearing takes place in a DCFS office, not a courtroom, in front of an administrative law judge. During this hearing, either party may present documents, witnesses, and other forms of evidence to support their position. A decision should be rendered by the administrative law judge within 90 days of filing of the appeal.
If the appellant is not successful, he/she may file an additional appeal with the Illinois Circuit Court.