Illinois was one of the first states to establish child protection laws, mandating the reporting of child abuse and neglect, and it created one of the country’s first child abuse hotlines. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was established in 1964 as the nation’s first cabinet-level state child welfare agency. DCFS is responsible for protecting children through the investigation of suspected abuse or neglect by parents or caregivers who are in a position of trust or authority over a child. Located in Wheaton, Ill., the Children’s Center is part of the Dupage County Children’s Advocacy Center within the State’s Attorney Office. It is specifically for minors who are being interviewed based on reported child abuse or neglect.
Investigating Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect
When authorities receive a report of potential child abuse or neglect, the initial response may lead to a criminal investigation. These investigations may involve the accused party or parties as well as the alleged victim. They may be conducted by child protective services employees, police officers, or a multidisciplinary team. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed in the future. In addition, its goal is to reduce the danger and increase the safety of the child, while determining the need for services to support the child and the family. In some cases, someone can be wrongfully accused if the accusations are based on false information, evidence, or even mistaken identity.
The Mission of the Children’s Center
The investigation process can be very traumatic for minors, who may be hesitant to explain exactly what happened to them for fear of further abuse. The Children’s Center of DuPage County is designed to promote a feeling of comfort and serenity for kids. Interview rooms at the Children’s Center come complete with age-appropriate toys that are also used to help with the disclosure process. A separate waiting area is available to keep children occupied while they are waiting to be interviewed.
Previously, law enforcement, child welfare, medical personnel, and social service agencies all worked independently of each other. In some cases, the lack of coordinated efforts between these agencies resulted in inadequate services for the victims. To remedy the disconnect, child victims are interviewed jointly at the Center by a team consisting of law enforcement and DCFS staff. This provides a sense of continuity for the child by offering the same personnel who are involved with the child’s case. By reducing the number of interviews and professionals associated with a case, a child victim feels less trauma during the investigation process. Therefore, he or she is more likely to divulge important information regarding the case and his or her unique situation. Most importantly, the necessary details about the alleged incident can be provided in a safe environment, which can hopefully lead to a positive outcome. This may mean the child is put in foster care, and the parents or caregivers may be charged with a crime, or the parents or caregivers may be proven innocent, and the child may remain in the family home.
Contact a DuPage County Child Endangerment Attorney
Allegations of child abuse and neglect are taken seriously in Illinois. If convicted, the punishments can significantly impact your personal and professional life. If you or someone you know is facing such charges, it is important to seek professional legal guidance. A Wheaton child abuse defense lawyer who is well-versed in child-related laws can help you defend against these types of accusations. The experienced law firm of Anderson Attorneys & Advisors is committed to protecting your rights and those of your child. Schedule your free consultation by calling our office today at 630-877-5800.