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Child Abuse And Neglect

This is Dial-Law on child abuse and neglect. It gives you certain information about what to expect if you are involved with a child who may have been abused and what you can do if the child lives in Cook County. If the child does not live in Cook County, you should contact the State's Attorney of the county where the child does live or the local bar association there.

Abused children include those who have been beaten, burned, scaled or sexually abused. Neglected children are those who have been deprived of food, shelter, medical attention or other necessary care.

Under Illinois law, reports of child abuse and neglect must be made to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. This Department maintains a telephone hotline to receive complaints. Although the State's Attorney's office does not automatically receive copies of these reports, serious cases are brought to its attention. In addition, the State's Attorney's office sometimes receives reports of child abuse and neglect directly from law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, teachers, and general public.

After evaluating the facts in a case, the State's Attorney's Office may initiate an action in Juvenile Court to remove the child from his or her parents' custody. In particularly serious cases, the State's Attorney may also bring criminal charges against the persons responsible for the neglect or abuse, but this proceeding is completely separate from Juvenile Court. In Juvenile Court, evidence of abuse or neglect is presented during civil hearings at which a judge decides whether the child will be place in the custody of a guardian, or whether the family must be monitored by the Court and DCFS.

This general information about the law regarding child abuse and neglect is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem you may have. For more information, or to report an incident of child abuse or neglect, you should call the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services telephone hotline at 1-800-24-A-B-U-S-E. If you do not know a lawyer and you live in Cook County, you can call the Lawyer Referral Service of The Chicago Bar Association at (312) 554-2001 or you can get an immediate referral on this website. If you live outside of Cook County, contact your local bar association.