DCFS investigations begin with a call to the DCFS hotline. The DCFS employee taking the call with then use DCFS guidelines to determine if a formal investigation should be opened. If an investigation is opened a DCFS investigator will contact you and request an interview with you and your children. It is important to note that DCFS is often in correspondence with law enforcement and that anything that you say to a DCFS investigator could be used against you by law enforcement. Speak with an attorney before you speak with DCFS.
The DCFS investigator has 60 days to complete their investigation. During this investigation a DCFS investigator may ask the parents to agree to a “safety plan”. At any point during the 60 day investigation DCFS can remove the child from the home by taking protective custody. DCFS investigators will often threaten protective custody if a party under investigation will not agree to a safety plan. Have an attorney review any proposed safety plans.
A juvenile case will be opened if protective custody is going to be in place for more than 48 hours. As a result, DCFS must obtain a court order within 48 hours of removing a child from a home in order to continue protective custody past forty-eight hours. Once a juvenile case is opened the circuit court will determine if there has been abuse and or neglect. If it is found abuse and or neglect has occurred there will be a fitness hearing. If a parent is found unfit the court could ultimately terminate parenting rights and place the child in the care of the state.
If you are facing a DCFS investigation or a juvenile court matter contact the attorneys at Allison & Mosby-Scott. Our attorneys are experienced in assisting clients with their juvenile court and DCFS related matters.