How does the DCFS Investigation Process Begin?
The DCFS investigation process begins when a call is made to the DCFS hotline regarding an allegation of possible abuse or neglect of a child in your care. A DCFS investigator is mandated to see the child within 24 hours of the call being made. The investigator may or may not talk to you or any references that you give the investigator. The investigation should be completed within 60 days, however the agency can get 30-day extensions if needed. Once finished the allegation will either be "unfounded" or "indicated". If it is unfounded, then the matter is over.
What if the Hotline Call is Indicated?
A investigation is indicated when the DCFS investigation team determines that there is credible evidence to support the allegation of abuse or neglect. Credible evidence means that there were facts available when viewed in the light of surrounding circumstances, that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the child was abused or neglected.
When a hotline call is indicated, the name of the perpetrator will appear on the DCFS State Central Register for having been indicated for abuse and/or neglect of a child. The register is available to employers whose business involves working with children. The register is not available to the general public. Names remain on the register from 5 to 50 years depending on the finding.
How do I Contest the Indicated Finding?
DCFS will send you notice of the indicated finding, usually by certified mail. This written notice will include instructions on how to contest the indicated finding. The notice will give you a deadline by which you have to notify DCFS that you want to contest the indicated finding by way of a hearing. It is very important that you notify DCFS by the deadline given. Failure to make your written request by that deadline will result in you giving up your right to contest the finding. You are requesting that the indicated finding be expunged from the State register
What Happens Once I Notify DCFS that I Want to Contest the Indicated Finding?
You will receive a notice from the Administrative Hearings Unit confirming that you are contesting the indicated finding. Your name has already been placed on the State register so you are seeking to have your name expunged from the register. The notice will include a date and time of a pre-hearing telephone conference. The telephone conference will be conducted by the administrative law judge assigned to hear your appeal. Also included in this pre-hearing telephone conferences is an attorney for DCFS, and you or your attorney. Issues discussed include setting a time for the hearing, deadlines for exchanging witness lists, and other pre-hearing matters.
At the hearing, DCFS, through its attorney, has the burden of proving the allegations of abuse or neglect. DCFS will call witnesses to support their position. You have the opportunity to call your own witnesses, introduce exhibits into evidence, and cross-examine DCFS's witnesses. The rules of evidence apply so some documents and statements are admissible, others not.
**Note: The above information is general in nature. This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your case, you should contact an attorney to discuss the details of your specific case.**