Responding to DCFS: What to do if The Department of Children and Family Service (“DCFS”) calls or shows up?

In my experience this is a call that causes panic in even the calmest among us. Visions of their children taken from their homes and the notion that some harm has been caused and that the parent is being accused of some wrong doing makes families feel exposed and scared.

Here are some frequently asked questions that may help in advising clients or when you are confronted with a call from a DCFS worker. This list is not exhaustive and is not intended as legal advice. Every situation is different. Call an attorney for advice prior to speaking to DCFS.

Can I refuse to talk to DCFS or refuse to allow my children to be interviewed?

Yes. However, this refusal will be used against you. DCFS may then determine that they should interview your children at school or take even more serious steps. If the police are involved and there is a criminal investigation, you should absolutely consult an attorney before speaking to DCFS.

Am I allowed to have an attorney present for the interview?

Yes. You are entitled to speak to an attorney before cooperating with the DCFS investigation.

What if I don’t know why DCFS is investigating me or my family?

You should ask in the very first contact with the DCFS investigator what the specific allegations or what you are being accused of? Be polite and respectful regardless of how angry you feel about the allegations.

You are not entitled to know who made the allegations.

Does my child have a right to have someone with them when they are interviewed?

Yes. You should insist that they have someone else present when they interview your child. You should also have another person in the room with you when you are interviewed.

What if DCFS tells me I can only have limited or no contact with my child and insists on a “safety plan”?

Call your attorney. If that isn’t possible, have another adult in the room with you when you review the conditions and terms of the safety plan.

If you are a parent or a mandated reporter under Illinois law please feel free to contact our office for a consultation regarding your legal rights regarding DCFS investigations and reporting.

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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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