DCFS Investigation: Case Closed
DuPage County Attorney for Defense of Child Abuse and Neglect
Dealing with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is a long and complicated process for a parent, one with severe consequences if things are not handled correctly. One day I received a call from a woman who had some issues going on in her marriage. Because of those issues, DCFS had called her. Concerned that DCFS may take away her children, I met with her in my office right away. Unbeknownst to her, an investigator with DCFS had spoken with her children while they were at school, which is an extremely common tactic of DCFS – to speak with kids at their school, away from the prying eyes of parents and without their parent’s knowledge. I explained the process – how people can anonymously report alleged allegations of abuse or neglect to DCFS, and DCFS is required to investigate. This means that DCFS sometimes goes and speaks with the children even prior to informing a parent that there is an investigation. I explained that DCFS can investigate incidents where there is no actual physical abuse or injury to the child, but rather when there is a physical altercation or confrontation between parents and the children are present at the home, not even necessarily in the same room as the argument between the parents.
Based upon our years of experience and handling of numerous DCFS investigations and cases while at the State’s Attorney’s Office, we know that during an interview with a parent, DCFS can ask confusing questions in an attempt to prove that there is history of loud verbal and sometimes physical incidents between the parents. As such, we explained the process, step by step, of what to expect – question by question. We explained that even if a child is not present in the room when the parents are arguing or a confrontation between parents becomes physical, DCFS can still find that the environment is hazardous to a child. Moreover, we explained that even though the police were not called to the home during the altercation, criminal charges could still be brought against one or both of the parents due to this incident. Based on our advice, this mom decided that it was wise to speak with DCFS, but only if we were present with her.
We arrived at our client’s home early for the meeting with DCFS, just to again review what to expect. We guided our client throughout the entire interview with DCFS and safety check of our client’s home. At the end of the interview, DCFS informed us that they were closing the investigation, which was a significant relief to our client.