Wheaton DCFS Investigations and Appeals Attorneys
Navigating DCFS Investigations with Confidence
Child abuse and neglect affects people in all communities. Children deserve to live in loving, supportive environments, have their ongoing needs met by parents or other caregivers, and be protected from actions or behaviors that could cause them to suffer physical or emotional harm. Accusations of child abuse or claims that a child is not receiving proper care and supervision may lead to investigations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
When DCFS receives reports of suspected abuse or neglect, it must perform an investigation and take action to ensure that children are safe from harm. In these situations, parents must understand how to respond. To ensure that parents’ rights are protected and prevent issues that could result in the termination of their parental rights, parents can work with a family law attorney during an investigation or subsequent legal proceeding.
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we provide compassionate legal representation for families that need to address legal concerns related to children. We can advise parents of their rights during a DCFS investigation and advocate on their behalf to help avoid unfavorable outcomes in court. If necessary, we can pursue appeals of decisions made by DCFS, taking steps to ensure that a family will be able to minimize disruptions to their lives while also making sure children's best interests will be protected at all times.
DCFS Investigations of Alleged Child Abuse or Neglect
There are several issues that may trigger an investigation by DCFS. Certain people who work with children are required by law to report any reasonable suspicions that a child has suffered abuse or is being neglected. These "mandated reporters" include teachers, coaches, doctors, nurses, psychologists, and members of the clergy. Unfortunately, these reports may be based on incorrect assumptions or mistaken observations. For example, a teacher may observe bruises on a child's body that occurred when they were roughhousing with friends, and they may assume that the child has been physically abused by a parent. This could lead to a DCFS investigation of the family's situation, even if there are no other indications that abuse has occurred.
Parents may be understandably concerned if they are contacted by someone working for DCFS, and they may be especially troubled if an investigator comes to their home, speaks to their child at school, or makes statements indicating that a child could be removed from their home if certain requirements are not met. However, parents have constitutional rights in these situations, and they can take steps to prevent the disruption of their lives or their relationships with their children.
While it is generally recommended to comply with requests by DCFS investigators, answer questions honestly, and turn over any information they ask for, it may not always be a good idea to fully cooperate with an investigation. Parents have the right to be informed of their choices, and DCFS personnel should be sure to explain the consequences they may face if they refuse any requests. They also have the right to confidentiality, ensuring that any records related to an investigation will not be released to the public. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on what parents should or should not say to DCFS investigators and what steps they can take to protect their rights.
During a DCFS investigation, personnel may interview parents, children, other family members, or other parties who can provide information about the situation, such as teachers or doctors. They may visit a family's home to ensure that children are provided with a safe environment and that their needs are being met. While an investigation is ongoing, DCFS should only take action to remove children from a home or put other solutions in place to protect children's safety if there is an imminent threat to the child's physical or emotional well-being.
If the information uncovered during an investigation shows that child abuse or neglect is "indicated," meaning that it is likely that abuse or neglect has occurred, DCFS may take action to protect a child's safety. Personnel may work with parents to put safety plans in place, such as by requiring parents to take educational classes instructing them on the prevention of child abuse. If children are at risk of harm, they may be taken into custody by DCFS and placed in a foster home or in the care of other family members until parents meet certain requirements. Parents may appeal an "indicated" finding by DCFS, and by taking legal action, they may contest decisions that have affected their custody of their children.
Contact Our Wheaton DCFS Investigations and Appeals Attorneys
Addressing issues related to DCFS can be a stressful experience for parents, but with the help of a family law attorney, they can protect their parental rights and take steps to avoid problems that could affect their family. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we work with parents and families to address accusations of child neglect or abuse and demonstrate that they can provide the care their children need. To get legal help with these issues, contact us today at 630-665-7300.