The Family Defense Center has brought a number of important cases which have established invaluable precedents and protections for children and families in the child welfare system.

Ashley M. v. DCFS

This case was filed by Ashley M., Grace R., David and Linda H., and Richard and Carolyn C. (together, the “Named Plaintiffs”), who were appointed by the Court to act as representatives of the Plaintiff Class.  The Plaintiff Class alleges that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services violated the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act by investigating and indicating persons under a rule known as Allegation 60 after the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Julie Q. v. DCFS in March 2013. Allegation 60 is the DCFS neglect allegation applicable in investigating and indicating persons for subjecting a child to an environment injurious to the child’s health and welfare.  The Illinois Supreme Court in Julie Q. v. DCFS found Allegation 60 to be legally void. Read more about Ashley M. v. DCFS.

Camreta v. Greene

Argued by Carolyn Kubtischek before the United States Supreme Court, Camreta v. Greene established important protections for families with regards to the custodial interrogation of a child in a public school as to the details of her home life, without: (1) a warrant supported by probable cause, (2) consent of parent, (3) a court order, or (4) exigent circumstances. Read more about Camreta v. Greene.

Dupuy v. Samuels

In June 1997, over 150,000 Illinois residents filed the landmark case Dupuy v. Samuels (also known as Tara S. v. McDonaldDupuy v. McDonald, and Dupuy v. McEwen). The suit is a constitutional case that challenges several core aspects of child protection investigations as violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law. The challenged policies include the lack of a constitutional standard for determining who is guilty of child abuse, the excruciatingly long hearing delays for people who seek to clear their names, the inadequate notices and information given to persons accused of abuse or neglect to enable them effectively appeal investigative findings against them, and demands made by state investigators that parents or children leave their homes at the outset of investigations, under threats that if they do not do so, their children will be taken into foster care. Read more about Dupuy v. Samuels.

Hernandez v. Foster

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which is the federal appeals court for Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, agreed with the Center’s legal position concerning the wrongful holding of a child away from his parent, both after a seizure into state protective custody and under a coerced safety plan. The decision comes in the case, Hernandez v. Foster, which was handled primarily by an outstanding pro bono legal team from Winston & Strawn headed by Julie Bauer and argued before the Seventh Circuit by Michael Bess (with co-counsel Diane Redleaf and Melissa Staas). The Hernandez decision, issued on August 26, 2011, gives some new teeth to the due process rights of families whose children are taken into state protective custody and affords some potentially strong remedies against coercive safety plans. Read more about Hernandez v. Foster.

In re Dar C. and Das C.

The In re. Dar C. and Das C. opinion filed by the Illinois Supreme Court on October 27, 2011 found that publication notice was insufficient for termination of parental rights because there had not been a diligent search of the father in a manner reasonably calculated to find him. An especially compelling factor in this case was that the same state’s attorney office that sought termination of the father’s rights had successfully sued him for child, serving him personally in that action. The father had been a non-custodial parent who had moved to the Chicago area but had a relationship with his daughters prior to DCFS’s removal of the children from their mother due to her substance abuse issues. There had been no claims of abuse, neglect or dependency filed against the father. Read the opinion in the case.

Julie Q. v. DCFS

In a unanimous decision issued on March 21, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Second District Appellate Court in Julie Q. v. DCFS, 2013 IL 113783, and reinforced the holding of that court that the “environment injurious” allegation, also known as Allegation 60, is void as a matter of law.  In 2001, DCFS promulgated Allegation 60 as a DCFS rule at 89 Ill. Admin. Code 300, Appendix B, under which it investigates and indicates allegations of “environment injurious.”  The holding of the Supreme Court determined that any indicated finding issued under this 2001 rule is unauthorized, void as a matter of law, and should be expunged. Read more about Julie Q. v. DCFS.

Natasha F. v. DCFS

Natasha F. did not expect that allowing her kids to enjoy a summer afternoon would lead to years of strife and an unfair child neglect label against her.  On July 29, 2013, Natasha’s three boys were playing outside with their cousin. Natasha’s children were 11, 9, and 5 years old, respectively, and their cousin was 9.  The nine-year-old child’s mother is a close friend of Natasha’s, and the women were inside with a third friend, regularly checking on their children through the window. The four children were playing in a park, located in the lot adjacent to the apartment, and Natasha had left her oldest child in charge.

Natasha checked from her window that the children were fine every 10 minutes.  And the children were doing fine and were only outside for about half an hour. Natasha and her friends all approved of their children’s using their energy in playing in the park, and believed this form of play helped them.  But when a preschool teacher visited the park with her class that teacher assumed the children were completely unsupervised.  Instead of simply asking the children to be careful, or asking them where their parents were, the preschool teacher left the park with her class and placed a hotline call to DCFS, apparently unaware that caring adults were a moment away. Click to read the rest of Natasha’s story.