The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigates claims of child abuse or neglect. It runs a hotline, (800) 25-ABUSE.
Some hotline calls result in juvenile court cases and children are removed from their parents’ care. When children are removed, the court can place the child in DCFS guardianship. It can also place the child with a relative.
Learn more about DCFS investigations.
DCFS as guardian
For a DCFS guardianship, the court names a DCFS official as the guardian for the child. DCFS then has the right to place the child in the home of a foster parent or relative caretaker. The child can be placed directly by DCFS or through a private agency. For a child in DCFS guardianship, placement with a relative can occur in the following cases:
- The relative can be a licensed foster parent. A foster parent must follow DCFS regulations before and after placement of a child; or
- A relative can become a “relative caretaker.” Relative caretakers do not need to be licensed. They must meet certain safety requirements and follow DCFS rules.
Both relative caretakers and foster parents are supervised by DCFS or a private agency. This means the agency has the right to move the child. In these cases, the foster parent or relative caretaker has the right to appeal the decision. The appeal must begin within a limited time period.
DCFS may also place the child in a residential treatment center. Residential treatment centers are licensed settings that provide 24-hour care to children in a group home or institution. Licensed foster parents and relative caretakers are not considered residential treatment centers.
In some cases, the residential treatment center selected by DCFS may be out-of-state. In order to place a child in an out-of-state residential treatment center, the court must find that the placement is:
- In the best interest of the child
- The least restrictive setting for the child
- The most family-like setting for the child
When DCFS places a child in an out-of-state residential treatment center, they must create a plan to preserve the child's relationships with their family and other people important to the child.
For more information, contact DCFS.
Court review of placement
A court may review the placement of a child under DCFS guardianship. The court can decide that the child's placement is not necessary or appropriate. If so, the court must put its findings in writing. The court can enter force DCFS to find a new placement for the child. It must be based on recommendations from the child's psychological counselor.
DCFS can later remove the child from a new placement. This can happen only if they find that removal is necessary to protect the child's health, safety, and best interest. DCFS must provide 10 days notice before this happens, unless there is a risk of harm to the child.
Updated: September 2017