Hearings and Appeals
What can I do if I have been indicated for child abuse and/or neglect?
If you’ve been indicated for child abuse and/or neglect, this means that a DCFS investigator conducted an investigation and determined that there was credible evidence that a child was abused or neglected. An indicated finding is a separate matter from any juvenile or criminal court proceeding.
If you received notice of an indicated finding of child abuse and/or neglect, you have certain rights, including:
- The right to receive a copy of the investigative file, absent certain information that the department is prohibited from releasing by law.
- The right to request an administrative appeal hearing of the indicated finding, also known as an expungement appeal, which includes the right to a hearing at which the indicated perpetrator and the department can present testimony and other evidence before a neutral administrative law judge who makes a recommended finding to the DCFS director.
- The right to seek judicial review of the director’s final administrative decision after an administrative appeal hearing.
What if I don’t appeal?
If you decide not to appeal the indicated finding, your name remains on the State Central Register for a period of time from five years to 50 years, depending on the specific allegation that is indicated. The State Central Register is a confidential list of persons who have been found to be indicated perpetrators of child abuse and/or neglect. Information maintained on the department’s State Central Register is confidential and not open to the general public. However, state law requires that various employers, such as day care centers, some schools and other facilities where people work directly with children conduct a background check on potential employees or volunteers to determine if the person has been indicated for child abuse and/or neglect as part of the employment process.
How long is the Appeal Process?
You must request an appeal within 60 days after the date of notification sent by the department. Thereafter, the prehearing, formal evidentiary hearing and final administrative decision must be completed within 90 days of receipt of your appeal request, unless you request a continuance or a continuance is agreed upon. If you are a child care worker, the prehearing, formal evidentiary hearing and final administrative decision will be completed within 35 days, unless you request a continuance or a continuance is agreed upon. A child care worker is any person who is employed to work directly with children and any person who is an owner or operator of a child care facility.
Need help or want to know more?
For more information regarding DCFS investigations, read the What You Need to Know about a Child Abuse or Neglect Investigation booklet in English, español or Chinese (中国)