Administrative Hearings For DCFS Indicated Reports

When a report is made to the Department of Children and Family Services alleging child abuse or neglect, an investigation ensues. If DCFS finds 'credible evidence' that abuse or neglect occurred, they will enter an 'indicated' finding. Indicated findings are then reported to the State Central Register ('SCR'), where they stay for as little as 5 years or as many as 50 years, depending on the nature of the allegations.

Indicated findings on the SCR, while not criminal in nature, are serious matters. They can prevent one from obtaining or maintaining employment in a number of fields, most particularly in those that deal with public health, education or otherwise working with children. They also can be used against parents or caregivers in any future DCFS investigations.

Indicated findings may go hand in hand with juvenile court neglect or abuse proceedings, but not always. Either way, the only way to get the indicated finding erased ('expunged') from the SCR is by filing an 'Administrative Appeal'. During an Administrative Appeal, DCFS must prove by a preponderance of evidence that their ruling that evidence was credible was correct. An Administrative Law Judge hears evidence on the case, including witness testimony in order to make a determination.

You are entitled to an attorney for an Administrative Hearing, but you must hire one yourself if you choose to be represented by counsel. Our belief is that it is smart to have an attorney representing you on an Administrative Hearing for a DCFS indicated report. First, there are a number of 'procedural' issues that might arise in the timing of filing an appeal of an indicated finding, obtaining copies of reports or other DCFS documentation, or arranging for the testimony of witnesses at the hearing. Additionally, the legal requirements for DCFS to substantiate their indicated finding relies on some relatively complicated rules which often contain technicalities that are better appreciated by an experienced attorney. Finally, DCFS will be represented by an experienced attorney at the hearing, and a 'pro se' litigant will be at a decided disadvantage if he or she does not have an attorney.

At the close of the hearing the Administrative Law Judge makes findings of fact and law and makes a recommendation to the Director of DCFS who most often follows suit by confirming the ALJ's decision. If you disagree with the decision, you may file an appeal in the Circuit Court.

We have an extensive background in representing clients on juvenile neglect and abuse matters - in the courtroom, on appeals from court room decisions, and in successfully handling administrative hearings on DCFS indicated findings. Chuck Rhode was an appointed member of the DCFS Children's Justice Task Force, and has often been appointed by judges to represent clients on neglect and abuse proceedings in appeals to the Appellate Court.

If you have an indicated finding that you would like to appeal, please contact us at 630-478-9924 for a free initial consultation. There is often too much at stake in these hearings to proceed unrepresented or without experienced legal representation.