Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Access to DCFS records
Access to public records is a priority for the State of Illinois. Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), records in possession of public agencies may be accessed by the public upon written request.
There are many categories of records that are already publicly available on the Internet that do not require a FOIA request. Click on each link below to be directed to the proper site.
- Adoption records: Midwest Adoption Center
- Child abuse and neglect investigation records
- If you are seeking information about a closed DCFS case, fill out the DCFS General Service Request Form and email it to MAC@macadopt.org or fax it to 847-298-9097.
- If you are seeking information about a current open case or need to speak to someone about an open case, please call the DCFS Advocacy Office at 800-232-3798 or 217-524-2029.
- Information about Daycare licensing compliance records
- Contract, vendor and payroll information: Illinois Transparency & Accountability Portal
- DCFS rules
- DCFS procedures
- DCFS forms
In some instances when you are requesting case-specific information, you may be required to provide your consent for release of that information.
All other publicly-available records may be obtained using the Freedom of Information (FOIA) process.
Pursuant to 5 ILCS 140, Section 2 (c), a public record is any records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of or under the control of any public body.
Some records are, however, not subject to release via the FOIA process; these types of records are described under 5 ILCS 140, Section 7 (1) (a) thru (y). Some records may also be subject to confidentiality provisions imposed by other state statutes. The FOIA process for disclosure of information does not supersede these other applicable statutory and judicial mandates.
How to submit a FOIA request
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services prefers that FOIA requests be submitted using our FOIA SUBMISSION FORM below.
When identifying public records, please include names of individuals involved, dates of birth, case or report numbers, type of report, relevant dates, location/address of incident and other pertinent information.
Freedom of Information requests are for records only. The FOIA officer does not answer questions, investigate, provide advice or instruction, respond to grievances or forward information on your behalf.
FOIA Submission Form
Balancing commitment to transparency and accountability while protecting private, confidential and safety sensitive information
FOIA requires that DCFS make available to any person for inspection or copying all public records subject to the exemptions set forth in Sections 7, 7.5, and 8.5 of the Act. You are encouraged to use the resources provided on this page to appropriately identify your requested records, accurately isolate relevant time frames and understand what to expect.
Tips for submitting a request
Our goal is to provide you with the information you request, while at the same time protecting information that cannot be released by law. Help us by following these guidelines:
- Be specific. Most information is collected by computer search. Providing dates, locations, identity of people and titles of records requested helps narrow the search and improve the quality of the response.
- Describe the records requested as narrowly as possible, request only documents you are seeking and limit the time frame during which records are requested.
- Be aware of case status. If an investigation is open and ongoing, records related to the investigation likely will be withheld.
We want to work with you to narrow requests that are considered unduly burdensome under the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA responses must be reviewed to prevent improper releases, so avoiding terminology like “any and all records,” which can lead to a denial or a response of an invitation to narrow the request, will help you receive your FOIA documents as soon as possible.
You may also submit a FOIA request by means of fax, the US mail or special carrier or email to the FOIA officer. A written request will ensure proper compliance with the requirements of the Act. Requests may be addressed to:
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
ATTN: FOIA Officer
60 E. Van Buren Street, Suite 1339
Chicago, IL 60605
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services does not require that FOIA requests be submitted in any particular form. However, we strongly prefer that your request, at a minimum, includes the phrase “Freedom of Information Act” or “FOIA;” contains a description of the types of records sought and contains contact information so we may follow up to clarify or narrow a request if necessary. Furthermore, although we will take written requests via regular mail, fax or hand delivery, we strongly prefer you submit your written request via our FOIA SUBMISSION FORM.
Requesting info from other state agencies
We can only respond to FOIA requests pertaining to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. If your request is for documents pertaining to another state agency please contact that agency’s FOIA officer.
This website information concerning the FOIA is being provided as required by Section 4 of the FOIA (5 ILCS 140/4). This website information may be revised and/or updated in the future.
Click here to read the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.