Parents sue DCFS over removal of toddler from family

By Ofelia Casillas | Chicago Tribune reporter

October 3, 2008

A toddler’s parents are suing state child-welfare investigators and police officers who took their daughter and then forced them to have only monitored contact with her for days during a child-abuse investigation, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

The 21-page suit seeking at least $50,000 in compensation was filed Wednesday by lawyers for the Family Defense Center, a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago that represents parents against the child welfare system.

The lawsuit charges that authorities “tore a healthy and happy toddler from her innocent parents.” Then, it alleges, child welfare investigators “held the toddler hostage until the parents agreed to forfeit their constitutional rights to live without unwarranted restrictions.”


A spokesman with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

On Sept. 17, 2006, Nataleigh Evans took a tumble while learning to walk and hit her head on a coffee table, the lawsuit said. When a red bump appeared, her mother, Jennifer Evans, took her to a pediatrician who made an allegation of abuse to the DCFS hot line.Two child welfare investigators and two Tinley Park police officers visited the Evans home and found her “safe and well-cared for,” the lawsuit said. Days later, DCFS social workers took the child from her parents for several hours.

The social workers then, according to the suit, threatened the parents with the continued custody of their daughter and placement in a shelter “unless they signed a so-called safety plan restricting their custodial rights.” ocasillas@tribune.com