What Happens if I Appeal a DCFS Decision?

October 30, 2019

You have the legal right to appeal a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) decision made after investigations involving instances of abuse or neglect of your children. If you choose to do so, it is important that you work with a skilled DCFS attorney in Rockford, IL, as they can guide you through the process and help you assert your rights. Here’s everything you need to know about appealing the decision.

Make sure you know the rules

You don’t have a whole lot of time to file an appeal of a DCFS decision—just 60 days. This brief appeal period means you’ll need to act fast on getting legal assistance, which is why it’s generally a good idea to hire an attorney as soon as you find out an investigation will be happening.

You are allowed to represent yourself, but this isn’t recommended, as you do need to have a knowledge of all regulations regarding DCFS appeals as outlined in Illinois state code, title 89 section 336. Additional rules about DCFS reports can be found in section 300.

Get a copy of the file

Within 20 days of filing your appeal, you should receive a copy of the DCFS file. Note that certain information will be redacted, including information about who first made the report to DCFS that prompted the investigation. People who make those reports are entitled to their anonymity.

Set your hearing

You will have an in-person hearing with an administrative law judge within 70 days after you file your appeal. There will be a pre-hearing conducted via telephone a couple weeks before the hearing to ensure everything is fully ready to go. If you wish, you can mandate the attendance of the DCFS investigators who oversaw your case at the hearing. You also have the right to subpoena people to compel their testimony in the case.

The judge who oversees your case will be a DCFS employee. The hearing must be tape recorded for an official record to be preserved.

Get the written report

The administrative law judge assigned to your case has 15 days after your hearing (a total of 90 days after you file your appeal) to generate a written report in your case. Most importantly, this report will feature a determination on whether enough evidence exists to indicate the presence of abuse or neglect based on all the information gathered and heard in the case.

The recommendation from the administrative law judge will be sent directly to the DCFS director, who can adopt that recommendation, modify it in some regards or reject it outright. The director has the final decision here, and that decision will officially end the appeal process for your case.

If the final decision is that there was insufficient evidence to prove abuse or neglect, you can then move to have the report expunged from the DCFS records.

For more information about filing an appeal after a DCFS decision, contact the Law Office of Brendan W. Caver, Ltd. to speak with an experienced DCFS attorney in Rockford, IL. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

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