1. File an Appeal
If you do it yourself, know the rules. They’re online from the Illinois General Assembly's website under Administrative Rules. The regulations regarding DCFS appeals are in title 89, at section 336. The rules about DCFS reports are at Section 300. The abuse and neglect definitions are in its Appendix B.
A great guide, including a sample DCFS file, is available from the Family Defense Center under Resources.
2. Receive a copy of the DCFS file
Within 20 days of filing an appeal, you’re supposed to receive a copy of the DCFS file. Confidential information like who called DCFS is blacked out.
3. Get a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
The neutral administrative law judge who conducts the hearing is a DCFS employee. That judge must be a lawyer and the hearing must be tape recorded.
4. The administrative law judge files a written report
Within 15 days of the hearing, and 90 days of when you filed your appeal, the ALJ must make a written report. That report must include a recommended decision on whether there is enough evidence of abuse or neglect based on information in the administrative record.
That recommendation goes to the director of DCFS, who can adopt, reject, or modify it. The director’s decision officially completes the administrative appeal process.
If the final decision is that there wasn’t evidence to support an indicated finding, the report can be expunged from the DCFS central register.
Updated: July 2018