Maybe you come home from work for the day, and you spot a business card stuck in your door from someone who works for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). On the other hand, your children could be the ones that let you know you are the focus of a DCFS investigation.
Workers may have pulled your children out of class at school to talk to them about their home situation. They might even show up when you are at home with the children, knocking on the door and interrupting a busy afternoon. You may want to ignore the investigation and assume that’s you won’t face serious consequences, but those assumptions could put your family at risk.
Getting assistance as soon as you know about the investigation can protect you and your children.
DCFS wants evidence against you
No matter how nice and supportive the workers act while talking to you and your children, their main objective is to find evidence of abuse or neglect. A worker might tell you that they just want to help and ask to come inside to talk.
When you walk inside with them, they will start making notes about every messy area of your home or perceived safety risks that could endanger your children. Even if the call is about allegations of inappropriate physical discipline, the workers will want to see where your children sleep and how much food you have in the house instead of just talking to you about physical abuse.
Even innocent matters, like a low level of groceries in the fridge because you usually shop on the day when workers arrive at your home could help them build a case to remove your children from your home. The decisions you make in the first hours after that initial contact could make or break the case against you.
It is easier to protect your family with outside help
You have different rights when dealing with a DCFS investigation than you do when interacting with law enforcement. If you don’t know your rights, you cannot properly assert them.
Getting legal help can help you manage the investigation process and reduce your likelihood of the investigation leading to adverse actions against you. Someone else without a direct connection to the investigation can help you stay calm. They can educate you about when you have to cooperate and how to minimize the risk of DCFS workers substantiating the claims against you can help you preserve your parental rights.
Responding appropriately when facing a DCFS investigation can make a big difference for your family.