One of the main services of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Illinois is to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect. It is important to understand a DCFS investigation is not a criminal investigation. However, DCFS and police personnel often work together to investigate the same claims. A thorough DCFS investigation must be conducted in order to provide credible evidence that a child was abused or neglected.
An indicated finding can have a significant and lasting impact on someone’s life, including limited parental responsibilities and/or restricted parenting time with children; job loss, and more. If a person has been indicated for abuse and/or neglect of a child, he or she is entitled to certain rights, including an appeal.
DCFS Appeals Process
There could be many reasons for a DCFS finding of child abuse and/or neglect. Some of these acts are intentional, but others can be unintentional accidents, or simply due to reckless behavior. Unfortunately, children can also lie about abuse allegations if another adult tells them to do so. If someone receives notice of a finding of child abuse and/or neglect, he or she has certain legal rights, including:
- The right to receive a copy of the investigative file (excluding information DCFS cannot disclose by law)
- The right to request a formal appeal hearing (expungement appeal)
- The right to seek judicial review of the final decision after a hearing
The indicated person must request an appeal within 60 days from the date he or she received notification by DCFS. The prehearing, evidentiary hearing, and official administrative decision should be concluded within a 90-day time period from the date the appeal was requested, unless a continuance is granted. If someone is a childcare worker, then the prehearing, formal hearing, and final decision will be made within 35 days, unless a continuance is requested.
Once the appeal is filed, a neutral party (typically an administrative law judge) will send the appellant (person appealing) a time and a date for a status call. During that call, the judge will confirm the appellant received all files related to the investigation, set a date for trial, and obtain a list of witnesses from both sides.
At the trial, the judge will review the evidence and apply the law to determine whether or not the indicated finding is proven or if it should be removed from the appellant’s record. If the judge believes the investigator made too many assumptions, or the police performed an inadequate investigation, the judge can grant the appeal.
Contact a Wheaton DCFS Investigations Defense Lawyer
If you have been investigated by DCFS and received notice of child abuse or neglect, it can be alarming. However, you are entitled to file an administrative appeal. The skilled legal team at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you plan a defense in order to keep your reputation intact. Call an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today at 630-653-9400 to schedule a free consultation.