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What Are the New Illinois Laws Regarding DCFS and Child Abuse?

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Plainfield, IL domestic violence defense attorney child abuse

In response to news about several children who were killed by family members in 2019, the state of Illinois has made several updates to the laws that went into effect on January 1, 2020. These new rules address situations involving child abuse, and they are intended to make children safer when they are returned to the custody of a parent or guardian from foster care.

Child abuse is automatically considered aggravated battery in Illinois, a criminal offense that can be punished as a Class X felony. Abusers can face up to 30 years in prison, making aggravated battery of children one of the most severe crimes in Illinois.

Child Abuse Prevention in Illinois

Illinois classifies both child abuse and neglect as domestic violence. Most commonly, abuse is physical violence against a child, but it can also mean:

  • Deliberate harm to a child’s emotional or mental health

  • Purposeful disfigurement of a child

  • Putting a child at risk of physical harm or death

  • Committing or failing to stop sexual abuse against a child

  • Withholding nutrition, safety, or medical treatment from a child

  • Abandoning a newborn baby

To help protect children from abuse by parents, family members, or other people in their lives, Illinois passed laws that give the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) more guidelines when investigating allegations of child abuse. DCFS is required to investigate every allegation of child abuse that is reported. As of January 1, 2020, if a child is allegedly being abused by a non-relative, DCFS must immediately call the police to assist in the investigation. Also, DCFS must notify the Department of Public Health if they receive a report that a child has been abused or neglected while undergoing treatment in any medical facility.

In cases of parental abuse against children, DCFS will now be required to complete a home checklist within 24 hours of a child returning to his or her home. This is to ensure that a child will no longer be harmed. Additionally, DCFS caseworkers will provide services and check-ins up to six months after a child is returned to a potentially abusive household.

Understanding Mandated Reporters’ Duties

A “mandated reporter” is someone who is responsible for reporting child abuse. In certain cases, children may talk to someone outside of the family unit if abuse is taking place. In other instances, a person may recognize signs of abuse, such as cuts or bruises. Either way, mandated reporters must report any suspicions of abuse to DCFS.

People who are mandated reporters include:

  • Teachers

  • Doctors

  • Social workers

  • Nurses

  • Daycare workers

  • Psychologists

  • Law enforcement officers

If a mandated reporter fails to report suspicions of abuse, he or she can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. On the other hand, if a person knowingly files a false report of child abuse, the mandated reporter may then be charged with a Class 4 felony. 

Contact a Joliet, IL Domestic Violence Attorney

All children deserve to be raised in loving and nurturing environments, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the whole family can be jeopardized if a false allegation of child abuse is made. The skilled attorneys of the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton have experience in defending clients who are wrongly accused of domestic violence, and we can work with you to help you keep your family together. To schedule a free consultation with a Will County criminal defense lawyer, call our office today at 815-666-1285.


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