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What is the timeline for a DCFS investigation

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | DCFS Matters |

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) exists to help protect those who cannot advocate for themselves. One of the most important tasks that the DCFS performs involves investigating allegations that adults have either abused or neglected the minor children in their care.

DCFS receives reports from concerned members of the public who have witnessed something unsettling and also mandated reporters who believe there may be cause for concern about a child’s family circumstances. Should DCFS find the complaints or concerns submitted about a child or a family credible, an investigation will ensue.

Employees from DCFS may interview children at school, show up at someone’s home and even interview those who regularly interact with a particular family. A DCFS investigation can be very stressful and embarrassing.

DCFS must act quickly

There are set rules regarding the duration of a DCFS investigation, so employees looking into family circumstances will need to review the situation quickly and submit paperwork in a timely manner. In most cases, the organization only has 60 days from when it opens the investigation to complete the process. Therefore, families do not have to worry about months of harassment and fear every time they leave the house or send their children to school. However, they can also likely expect that there may be intensive efforts to look into the family circumstances during those 60 days.

The right response can make all the difference

People often become emotional and therefore irrational when they learn that they are the subject of a DCFS investigation. They may act in an unusually aggressive manner that makes them seem unstable and potentially helps substantiate the claims against them. They may be overly accommodating, letting workers into their homes and giving them an opportunity to gather circumstantial evidence that fits their narrative.

Parents who are worried about what a DCFS investigation may mean for their family will need to learn about the process and about their rights. Asserting firm boundaries and knowing what to expect during the DCFS investigation process can help families minimize the likelihood of an unfair and unfavorable outcome.