Click below to read an article that Executive Director Diane Redleaf co-authored in the June 2015 issue of the NACC’s Guardian journal:
Beyond providing direct legal services and advocating systemic change in the Illinois legislature, the Family Defense Center also provides many resources for individuals and professionals in the child welfare system. These manuals provide basic information and templates to individuals and attorneysRead more
Articles and reading
Articles written by and about the Family Defense Center, its clients, and research in the child welfare system.
In the American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation journal, Family Defense Center staff attorney Melissa L. Staas demonstrates that, in light of new scientific evidence, the criminal justice system has shifted their handling of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma cases, but child welfare lawyers and judges have not followed suit.
Given that the stakes in the child welfare system include the very real, irreversible, and sometimes permanent trauma that a misdiagnosis of SBS/AHT causes to children, legal professionals in the child welfare system should apply the same diligence and objectivity when confronted with an SBS/AHT case as has been modeled by innocence projects nationwide.
By Melissa L. Staas
On January 9, 2015, the Circuit Court of Cook County approved and entered the final settlement reached between DCFS and the plaintiffs’ in the class action lawsuit Ashley M. v. DCFS, 2013 CH 20278, which challenged DCFS’s failure to adopt a lawful rule defining “environment injurious” (a.k.a. Allegation #60). This settlement secures class-wide relief for Illinois residents. That relief includes expunging wrongly-indicated findings of “environment injurious” from DCFS’s State Central Register, issuing new procedures for investigating claims of “environment injurious,” and training DCFS staff on the new evidentiary requirements for indicating an allegation of “environment injurious.”
On the Wrongful Convictions Blog, our work “Medical Ethics Concerns in Physical Child Abuse Investigations” is quoted on the topic of child abuse pediatricians and their role in child abuse investigations. The blog post can be found here: