When you think about the Department of Children and Family Services, you may think primarily about small children who are in danger. However, parents have a legal responsibility to supervise minor children until they are 18 years old. This means that parents can face serious consequences, such as legal charges for neglect, or even the removal of their children from their residence, even if the children are teenagers, as in the case of our model family.
DCFS can investigate and bring a matter to juvenile court if they believe abuse, neglect, or dependency are negatively affecting a minor-child’s wellbeing. Dependency occurs when a parent is unable to properly care for their child, whether due to their own fault or a condition or situation outside of their control. Sometimes dependency can be caused by disability or illness.
Abuse and neglect are a bit more straightforward. DCFS can also bring a matter before an Illinois court in anticipation of abuse or neglect occurring. Failure to supervise minor children can be a form of abuse or neglect which can be brought before an Illinois juvenile court by DCFS. If the court agrees that abuse or neglect is occurring, the minor children may be removed from the home, or the court may begin supervising the parents’ care of them. If you have been notified of a DCFS investigation into your parenting or home conditions, it is important to retain counsel as soon as possible.
DCFS and the Model Family
Our model family may not immediately strike you as one in need of a DCFS visit. The parents are both successful, the family is well-off and lives in a nice house, the parents are nice and upstanding members of the community, and the kids have always performed well at school. However, peeling back that facade, an attentive teacher may notice that things have been changing for the children.
The parents have been spending a lot of time outside of the home, leaving the kids unsupervised. This has resulted in partying and drug use by both children. A group of high-school aged attendees at the unsupervised party were pulled over by police and found to be driving while nearly double the legal blood alcohol limit for adults (despite them being minors). Later, their son was involved in a horrific drunk driving accident where a third-party was killed. Now, their daughter is doing Oxycontin and heroin, and accused of dealing it as well. All of these criminal activities, most of them serious felonies carrying jail time, were made possible due to their lack of supervision.
DCFS is one of the most powerful agencies in the state. If they deem it appropriate, they can take your child from you and force you to go through a complex legal process to have them return that can take years. If a DCFS complaint is filed against the parents, or the police refer the matter to DCFS, there is a good chance that they will be party to a separate DCFS investigation and possibly brought before the juvenile court. The outcome of the DCFS investigation process can depend on whether the parents hire legal counsel to help navigate this complex process and at times, deal with the possibility that there is a problem that they want to focus on addressing, otherwise, the children could be removed from the home.
Contact Glasgow & Olsson
If you are facing a DCFS investigation, don’t navigate the process alone. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you keep your family together.