What Is Considered Neglect in the Eyes of DCFS?

March 23, 2020

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is a state agency that investigates claims of child abuse, neglect and dependency. If you’ve been informed of a DCFS investigation into your parenting, hiring a DCFS defense attorney in Rockford, IL is imperative—DCFS has the power to remove your children from your home and even terminate your parental rights permanently.

DCFS is duty-bound to investigate all reports of child neglect, abuse and dependency, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. While not all children will be removed from the home (and others are often returned home after the investigation and hearing have conclude), this can still be a terrifying time for parents.

The DCFS definition of neglect

Illinois has codified “minimum parenting standards” with DCFS. If a child’s parent, guardian or caretaker fails to meet these standards, they could be accused of neglect. Neglect may be active or passive, but in all cases, the child’s health is or could be harmed by their parents’ inaction.

Parents must provide, at the very least, proper food, clothing and shelter, as well as “adequate supervision” and medical attention. If your child is going to school in shorts and a t-shirt in the winter, for example, that would be a strong sign that you are not providing proper clothing or adequate supervision—essentially, neglect is a blatant disregard for keeping your child safe and healthy.

Many professionals are “mandated reporters,” meaning that if they see the signs of abuse or neglect, they are legally as well as morally obligated to report it to the proper authorities. In neglect cases, this could be improper clothing, signs of hunger, erratic school attendance, unacknowledged medical issues and more. Law enforcement, medical professionals, school staff, social services and childcare professionals are all examples of mandated reporters.

What happens during a DCFS neglect investigation?

If you’re investigated for neglect, DCFS has 60 days to initiate and complete the process. An investigator will visit the child’s home right away to see if the child is in any immediate danger. If not, they will then start collecting evidence and testimony to determine whether the complaint has any merit.

Should the investigator determine that your child is in danger, they will remove them from your home during the investigation—this is called protective custody. Generally, DCFS doesn’t want to separate parents and children, so removal is considered a last resort reserved for very obvious and serious cases. In most circumstances, if they think your child might be unsafe, they will try to work with you to create a safety plan while the investigation occurs.

Get help from a DCFS defense attorney in Rockford, IL

When DCFS initiates a neglect investigation in your home, you need an attorney right away. The Law Office of Brendan W. Caver, Ltd. specializes in DCFS defense. We will work to preserve your parental rights and fight to ensure you don’t suffer additional consequences as a result of the investigation. Call today to schedule a consultation—we look forward to assisting you.

Categorised in:

Law Office of Brendan W. Caver, Ltd.