My neighbor threatened to call DCFS because she feels our property and home are messy. Am I going to lose my children?

This situation would fall under Illinois child neglect laws, which cover when a parent or caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter or other basics for a child. This is different from child abuse, which involves physical, sexual, or emotional harm to a child, but child neglect is also taken seriously by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

A DCFS visit does not automatically mean a parent will lose custody of his or her children. When someone calls the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline, the staff determines whether a case of abuse or neglect occurred and if so, a formal report is taken. Within 24 hours, a Child Protection Services worker will begin an investigation (much sooner if the child is found to be in immediate risk of harm).

After meeting with both the person who reported the abuse or neglect and the alleged victim, an investigator may determine that either the report was not made in good faith or that abuse or neglect did not occur. If so, the investigation will be closed. However, if evidence of abuse or neglect is found, the investigator will open a formal investigation.

Investigators have 60 days to come to a decision that either the report was “unfounded” or “indicated.” Decisions are based on whether credible evidence exists that abuse or neglect occurred. Every case is different, and if you are unsure whether an attorney can help you during a DCFS investigation, call our offices for a free consultation.

*DISCLAIMER: The questions and answers presented on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship.