Allegations of Child Abuse or Neglect and DCFS


Who is DCFS?

How Does DCFS Learn About Possible Abuse and Neglect Cases?

What Happens If You are Suspected of Child Abuse or Neglect?

Within 24 Hours of First Report of Child Abuse or Neglect

Within 24 hours of the first report, the investigator tries to visit the child to make sure there is no immediate danger to the child. During their investigation, they will speak with witnesses and they will review any evidence. The Department usually tries to get parents to agree to a safety plan but if that would not help then the department could take the child into protective custody. This includes speaking to the person who allegedly abused or neglected a child, the person who reported the abuse, the child, doctors, family members, etc.

DCFS Investigation is Not a Criminal Investigation

An investigation by the department is not a criminal investigation. However, the department and the police often communicate during the investigation. DCFS has 60 days to complete their formal investigation. If after an investigation DCFS believes the report is unfounded, the report will be removed from the Child Abuse Registry.

What happens when you receive a notice that DCFS Intends to “Indicate” you?

  • you who the child is that the allegation is about,
  • when the alleged incident occurred,
  • what exactly DCFS believes you did, etc.
  • how long the indicated report will stay in the system if they do indicate you.

DCFS Appeal Process

The notice will tell you more about the appeals process if you are indicated. They will also give you a summary of the facts that the department investigated during the process. You are given an opportunity to speak to an unbiased child protection administrator to respond to the allegations and they state they have to indicate you. Many people have their attorney present for the teleconference. This is a time to bring additional evidence and facts to the department’s attention. Remember that at this point you are just being given a chance to tell your own account of the incident. You are not able to cross-examine the department’s witnesses at this stage.

What Happens If You are “Indicated”?

How Do You Challenge a Finding of Child Abuse of Neglect?

Preparation for the Administrative Law Hearing

The next step is preparing for the hearing. You will exchange witness lists with the attorney for the department. You will receive a redacting copy of the investigation file to review while preparing. You may send subpoenas to make sure certain witnesses appear for your hearing. You are able to have a child under the age of fourteen (14) as a witness at the hearing but you must show that the child’s testimony or involvement is essential to determination of an issue that you are appealing, that this will not inflict emotional harm to the child, and that there is no alternative to having the child involved.

What to Expect During Administrative Law Hearing

At the hearing, you and the department will both present evidence and witnesses. This will be your time to ask questions to the department’s witnesses. The department has the burden of proof to show that the abuse of neglect occurred by a preponderance of the evidence.


After the hearing, you will receive a final administrative decision on the appeal within ninety (90) days. If you are successful the report can be taken off the registry. Remember that indicated reports can be used against you later if there are future allegations of child abuse or neglect. If you are unsuccessful in your administrative appeal, you will be provided with information on how to appeal through the judicial system.

If you have concerns about a DCFS investigation or have concerns about child abuse or neglect, it is important to make smart decisions and seek advice from experienced family law attorneys. Contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation to get answers to your questions including what happens if DCFS indicates you for child abuse or neglect.


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