DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services)
Nobody wants to deal with the Department of Children & Family Services. If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, then you are probably very worried. Are you going to lose your children? Understanding the process can help.
What Happens if You Have an “Indicated” Finding of Abuse or Neglect?
If the Illinois DCFS finds that your child has been abused or neglected, then you may lose custody of your children. You will also be entered into the State Central Register, which allows background checks for certain professions. If you work with children, you may lose your job, and you almost certainly will not be able to get another job that involves children, and your name will stay on the registry for anything from five to 50 years. This is separate from criminal court. You have the right to see your investigative file, although it may be partially redacted, and to request both an administrative appeal hearing and final judicial review.
How Does the Appeal Process Work?
You must file an administrative appeal within 60 days, and the hearing must take place within 90 days (unless a continuance is requested or other exceptions exist. If you are a child care worker, the limit drops to 35 days, so as to get the case processed quickly. If you work with children, you may want to request an expedited appeal.
An administrative law judge will look at the evidence and decide whether it supports the decision. They will then recommend whether to expunge your record or not. If they decide the record is expunged, you will be removed from the register and you will be able to move on.
If they deny the expungement request, then you can appeal to the courts. This will go to the circuit court, and if that fails may go to the appellate court.
Should I Have an Attorney?
You should engage an attorney before filing the initial administrative appeal. Consulting an attorney can help you get it right the first time and potentially avoid ending up in court, which is expensive. It can also get your case resolved faster, which can keep you from losing your job.
Midwest Legal Care can help. To find out more about dealing with DCFS and how we can help you, call our firm at 815-900-2300 or fill out our online contact form to request a free consultation.