Parents in Illinois have certain legal obligations to their children. They have to provide housing, food and access to healthcare and education. They also have to avoid engaging in behaviors that could significantly harm their children. State authorities, including the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), investigate claims of child abuse affecting a family.
Sometimes, allegations arise because of a relationship conflict. A breakup or divorce leads to one parent making accusations against the other in the hopes of obtaining certain terms in child custody matters. Other times, it could be confusion on the part of a medical professional or teacher.
These professionals who often have close relationships with children are mandated reporters. Their role within the state and the licensing authority that gives them the right to pursue their profession require that they report suspicions of abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. Sometimes, very loving and supportive parents end up accused of child abuse falsely. How can they handle those claims?
They typically require professional assistance
Parents may not understand their rights when under an investigation related to false claims of child abuse or what is at risk if the outcome is unfavorable. They may make mistakes that compromise their rights, such as opening the door to DCFS workers or agreeing to long sit-down discussions in which they may be subject to leading questions and other manipulative tactics. Those who partner with a lawyer familiar with this unique intersection of family and criminal law will have an easier time protecting their household from the disruption that a child abuse investigation could generate.
There are real consequences for ignoring concerns
Those facing child abuse allegations often tell themselves that their future actions will help clarify to others that they are dedicated parents and not abusive. However, assuming that others will see the best is not necessarily a good legal strategy for those who could face criminal prosecution or the removal of the children from their household.
Even those facing allegations in relation to a custody matter will want to react assertively to protect themselves and the children in their family. Evidence ranging from statements by neighbors, pastors and therapists to clear documentation of what actually occurred during specific incidents can help parents protect their reputations and their parental rights when under investigation for misconduct in Illinois.
Seeking legal guidance and learning more about the reason for the child abuse investigation and responding proactively is important for any Illinois parents who are worried about protecting their rights while interacting with the DCFS.