Child welfare workers who staff the Child Abuse Hotline have special training in determining what constitutes child abuse and neglect under Illinois law. If a formal report is taken, a Child Protection Services worker
will begin an investigation within 24 hours -- much sooner if the child is considered
to be in immediate risk of harm. More than 99 percent of all reports taken during
Fiscal Year 2004 had investigations opened within the 24-hour mandate.
an initial contact with an alleged child victim and the reporting source, an investigator
is sometimes able to determine that the report was not made in good faith or that
the reported situation did not occur. If so, the investigation may be concluded
at that point. But if the investigator is not able to make such a determination,
a formal investigation begins.
emergency services can be provided while the investigation is pending. These may
include various kinds of family support or, if the child is at imminent risk,
taking the child into protective custody. Some 4,804 children were taken into
protective custody during Fiscal Year 2006.
also play a greater role in the comprehensive assessment of children in care,
which involves both initial assessments that take place early in the investigative
process and later comprehensive assessments. Special attention is given to risk
an investigator has collected information from the people involved, a decision
must be made by the investigator. By law, the decision must be made within 60
days, but usually the decision is announced within 30 days. The investigator can
make one of two findings: a report can be "unfounded" when there is no credible
evidence that the child was abused or neglected or a report can be "indicated"
when there is credible evidence that child was abused or neglected. Credible evidence
means that the facts gathered by the investigator would lead a reasonable person
to believe that a child has been abused or neglected.
25.7 percent of all reports are "indicated" or confirmed after investigations
are completed. Of the 110,239 child reports taken in Fiscal Year 2006, 26,618
were indicated as victims of abuse or neglect. Indicated reports of child abuse
or neglect are kept by the Department for a minimum of five years. Indicated reports
of death or sexual penetration are kept for 50 years, while reports involving
serious physical injury are kept for 20 years. Unfounded reports are retained
for a shorter period of time varying from 30 days to one year.
number of children reported to the state's Child Abuse Hotline nearly doubled
between Fiscal Years 1986 and 1995. In Fiscal Year 1986, 70,425 children were
reported to the Hotline as abused or neglected. The highest number recorded was
in Fiscal Year 1995, with 139,720 children reported abused or neglected. The number
of reports taken since that time has gradually declined to a low of 97,428 child
reports taken in Fiscal Year 2003, then rose to 104,248 in Fiscal Year 2004 and
111,711 in Fiscal Year 2005, and 110,235 in Fiscal Year 2006, followed by 111,742 in Fiscal Year 2007.
the essential work of investigators remains the same, their roles and the organizational
framework have changed. Reform goals and the demands of a growing number of cases
have reshaped the way protective services are delivered. A greater emphasis is
now placed on protection, accountability and serving the best interests of the
past history of rising numbers of abused and neglected children in care, coupled
with court-imposed caseload standards, prompted an evaluation of the approach
to service delivery. After studying models and methods used by other states and
conferring with staff and experts in the field, it was determined that DCFS could
best serve children and families by making child protection services a separate
function with its own line of authority to the Director. The new division of child
protection was established, headed by its own Deputy Director. Management was
also enhanced by the addition of child protection managers.
in Cook County who are taken into protective custody receive initial intake and
placement services at a central location. DCFS operated the Emergency Services
Center until October 1993. In January 1994, the Department's Emergency Services
Center was renamed the Emergency Reception Center, and all child care activities
were turned over to Columbus-Maryville.
In a federal class action case
pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois,
Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer entered a preliminary injunction requiring the implementaton
of certain procedures for child abuse and neglect investigations. These procedures
are required to be implemented for all investigations which were initiated by
a call to the Department's child abuse and neglect hotline after midnight on September
Department will adopt, implement and maintain a standard that requires consideration
of all available evidence, both inculpatory and exculpatory, for its investigations
of child abuse and neglect
Department will implement revised notices for child abuse and neglect investigations
and licensing notices for background checks
Department will provide an administrative appeal process for all persons indicated
for child abuse and/or neglect which will result in a final administration decision
within 90 days from the indicated perpetrator's request for an administrative
appeal, not counting any continuances requested by the indicated perpetrator
The Department will provide persons who request review of indicated findings with
access to investigative files in which the Department is entitled to certain information,
however the Department shall provide all persons who request review of indicated
findings all source information, including information from cooperating individuals.
preliminary injunction also required the Director to implement certain procedures
for all child care workers who are the subject of a child abuse and neglect investigation.
Child care workers includes employees who work directly with children or owners/operations
of facilities, regardless of whether the facility is licensed by the Department
of Children and Family Services. Types of facilities include: child care institutions,
child welfare agencies, day care/night care centers, day care/night care homes,
day care/night care group day care homes, group homes, hospitals or health care
facilities, school personnel, including school teachers or administrators (not
tenured public school teachers or administrators who have other processes available
t them prior to termination), employees who work with children in before and after
school programs, recreational programs, summer camps or as full time nannies.
Moreover, when an investigation of an alleged incident of abuse or neglect is
related to a child care worker's personal life, but an indicated finding can impact
the child care worker's employment, the child care worker can request that the
investigation be treated as an employment related investigation.
entrants "Career entrants" are persons actively engaged in the job placement
process as a child care worker, a person currently enrolled in an academic program
which leads to a position as a child care worker, or a person who has applied
for a license required for a child care worker position. A person shall qualify
as a career entrant only if, at the time of notice of investigation, that person
(1) has applied or will apply, within 180 days, for a position as a child care
worker; (2) is enrolled in or will commence, within 180 days, an academic program
which leads to a position as a child care worker; or (3) has applied for a license
as a child care worker.
order to receive the expedited procedures required under the preliminary injunction,
career entrants and persons investigated in their personal capacities who work
in the child care field MUST identify themselves as child care workers to the
investigator and request that they receive the expedited processes.
preliminary injunction requires implementation of the following procedures for
all child care workers and career entrants who are the subject of a child abuse
and neglect investigation:
The Department will conduct an Administrator's Teleconference prior to indicating
a child care worker for child abuse or neglect upon request of the child care
worker at which time the child care worker can present information or documentation
as to why they should not be indicated to a high level Administrator in the Department's
Division of Child Protection who has had no prior involvement in the child abuse
or neglect investigation. The Administrator has the authority to indicate, unfound
or return the case for further investigation.
In the event that a child care worker is indicated for child abuse or neglect,
the child care worker can request an expedited appeal hearing which will result
in a final administrative decision within 35 days of the child care worker's request
for an expedited hearing, not counting any continuances requested by the child
can also be obtained from the the related brochure, Notice
of Intent to Indicate Child Care Worker for Report of Child Abuse and/Or Neglect
the administrative rule and procedure regarding child abuse and neglect investigations
see Policy & Rules.
law provides that a person who had been indicated for child abuse and neglect
has the right to request an appeal of the indicated finding in the Department's
Administrative Hearings Unit. The appeal hearing will be held before a neutral
Administrative Law Judge. The Department has the burden of proving the accuracy
and consistency of the indicated finding by a preponderance of the evidence. A
person who requests an appeal of an indicated finding has the right to have a
representative, including an attorney, represent and/or assist him at the administrative
hearing. At the hearing, both the Department and the indicated perpetrator and/or
his representative may call witnesses and introduce documents. After the hearing,
the Administrative Law Judge will issue a recommendation to the Director. The
Director then issues a final administrative decision in which he can accept or
reject the recommendation of the Administrative Law Judge. In the event that the
Director's final administrative decision results in a denial of the request for
the expungement of the indicated report, the indicated perpetrator can seek further
review in circuit court pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Review Act, CITE.
Appeals for Child Care Workers and Career Entrants
care workers and career entrants may request an expedited appeal of the indicated
finding, pursuant to the preliminary injunction entered by Judge Pallmeyer, in
which they will receive a final administrative decision regarding their request
for an appeal within 35 days of their request for an appeal. The calculation of
the 35 days excludes time attributed to a request for a continuance by the child
care worker or career entrant or time attributed to continuances or dates set
by the agreement of the parties.
Appeals for Child Care Workers, Career Entrants and Other Indicated Perpetrators
care workers, career entrants and other indicated perpetrators who request an
appeal of their indicated finding are required to receive a final administrative
decision within 90 days of their request for an appeal. The calculation of the
90 days excludes time attributed to a request for a continuance by the child care
worker or career entrant or time attributed to continuances or dates set by the
agreement of the parties.
December 2005, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer entered another order regarding the Department's
policies and practices regarding safety plans implemented during child abuse and
neglect investigations. Safety plans are plans developed with the cooperation
and involvement of a family during a child abuse and neglect investigation to
ensure the safety of children during the investigative process. Safety plans can
take a variety of forms and the family's input is essential in developing the
safety plan. Safety plans can include asking a caretaker and/or children to live
in another location during the investigator or having another person supervisor
contact with children during the investigation. The specific circumstances of
each safety plan depend on the individual facts involved in each investigation
and the individual needs and circumstances of the family. Safety plans should
be in writing and a written copy of the plan should be provided to all persons
subject to the plan and all persons involved in implementing or monitoring the
materials for child care worker appeals: