Keep Your Family Together
DCFS Appeal Lawyer Illinois
DCFS Appeal Lawyer in Illinois. Having the state tell you you’re not fit to take care of your kids is shocking, upsetting and humiliating. While the Illinois DCFS appeal lawyer team at Drummond Law appreciates what the Department of Child and Family Services does to keep children safe, we also know that parents and guardians can be wrongfully accused. If you received a “notice of indicated finding,” you need to contact a DCFS appeal lawyer immediately to ensure you are not placed on any state registries and your family remains intact. Call a Drummond Law DCFS appeal lawyer in Illinois today at 800-842-0426 or contact us online for a free consultation.
How DCFS Indicated Findings Work in Illinois
Any parent knows that injuries and kids go hand in hand. Under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, the state requires certain people to report to DCFS any potential signs of child abuse or child neglect. Those people include:
- Any medical professional, such as a doctor or school nurse
- Social services and mental health personnel, such as a school counselor
- Crisis intervention personnel
- People who work in education, such as teachers, assistants or members of a school board
- Recreation or sports coaches
- Law enforcement personnel
- Any member of the clergy
So if a school nurse notices bruises on your child, or something else that could be from neglect or abuse, they will report it to DCFS, who may then go and question your child outside of your presence. After their investigation, DCFS will send you a notice that the accusation was either “unfounded” or “indicated,” the latter meaning the DCFS determined you are guilty of neglect or abuse.
If you’ve been indicated, call a Drummond Law Illinois DCFS lawyer immediately. You have rights as parents and we are prepared to defend them, but there are strict time limits for filing appeals that cannot be missed.
How to File a DCFS Appeal in Illinois
While you can appeal by yourself, it’s always recommended to use an Illinois DCFS appeal lawyer who understands the law, your rights and how the appeal process works. In some cases, your DCFS appeal lawyer can call the DCFS attorney and convince them that there is little to no evidence to support the allegations. If the DCFS attorney agrees, they will agree to a “voluntary unfounding.” If they do not agree, you will have to proceed with the appeal process.
Appealing an indicated finding is a 5-step process:
1. File an Appeal
You have 60 days from the date on the notice you received to file an appeal. Your Drummond Law DCFS appeal lawyer will file the appeal for you, along with an Authorized Representative form.
2. Prepare Your Case
You will receive the file with information about the investigation within 20 days of filing your appeal. Your DCFS appeal lawyer will review the file with you and go over the DCFS definitions for the accusations against you to develop the best strategy to defend your family. You will be told who is going to testify against you, and your DCFS appeal lawyer will prepare cross-examination questions.
3. Attend a Pre-Hearing Conference
The conference will be tape recorded and conducted via telephone between the appointed judge, the DCFS attorney and your DCFS appeal lawyer. You may be on the call if you request it, but are not required to be. In the conference, we’ll discuss:
- Witnesses that may be called or evidence that may be entered
- Whether either side wants the child to testify
- The scheduling of the hearing
- Documents that need to be exchanged
- Any stipulations or pretrial motions
4. Attend the Hearing
The hearing will be in front of a neutral Illinois administrative law judge (ALJ) within 70 days of your appeal. The hearing proceeds as a typical trial would. Your DCFS appeal lawyer and the DCFS attorney will present evidence and call and cross-examine witnesses. You will be allowed to call one character witness. You can also subpoena a witness, which your DCFS appeal lawyer recommends doing when the witness is a professional, such as a doctor.
5. Wait for the Written Report
The ALJ must make a written recommendation within 15 days of the hearing. The judge will review the evidence, testimony and facts of the case to determine if there is a preponderance of the evidence that the abuse or neglect likely occurred. The ALJ will send the recommendation to the director of DCFS, who will accept, reject or modify the recommendation.
If your appeal is approved, the indicated finding will be expunged, meaning all physical and digital copies will be destroyed and no agency will have any record of it.
What Happens if My DCFS Appeal is Rejected in Illinois?
If your appeal is rejected, your DCFS appeal lawyer can help you appeal to the circuit court under the Illinois Administrative Review Law. If the DCDS director goes against the recommendation of the ALJ, you likely have an excellent chance of winning the appeal.
What Happens If I Do Not File a DCFS Appeal in Illinois?
If you don’t appeal an indicated finding, you will be placed in the State Central Register (SCR) for anywhere between 5 and 50 years, and DCFS may recommend to Illinois juvenile court that your child be removed from your home. The SCR is not available to the public; however, many employers are required to check it as part of a background investigation.
Illinois DCFS Appeal Lawyer | Drummond Lawyer
There’s nothing more important than family, and it’s demeaning and infuriating any time the state wants to become involved in your family affairs, especially when you know they’re wrong. An Illinois DCFS appeal lawyer at Drummond Law will stand by your side and fight for your family’s future. We have been delivering justice to people throughout the Midwest since 1976 and believe that fairness and expert legal representation are fundamental rights for everyone. Call an Illinois DCFS appeal lawyer at Drummond Law today at 800-842-0426 or contact us online for a free case review.