You agreed to take care of your sister’s children while she recovered from surgery. You knew your one nephew was a bit of a handful who doesn’t like the word, “No.” That same child sprained his ankle on the basement steps, and now he says you pushed him down the stairs. The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) investigated and has indicated you for child neglect or abuse.

Can you appeal?

An indicated finding by DCFS can have a dramatic impact on your entire life. Your name may be placed on a statewide registry of offenders, which could limit your ability to gain employment in some businesses as well as your ability to be around children. You may even have difficulty visiting grandchildren who live out of state.

Overturning such a finding may be tough but not impossible.

If DCFS does indicate you, you must request an appeal within 60 days from the date on the letter notifying you of that finding. If you miss this deadline, you are out of luck. However, once an appeal is timely requested, you may have a hearing.

If you do wish to appeal, an experienced attorney can be essential. An attorney can help raise doubts about the finding as well as help you put your best foot forward. How did the offense get reported? Did a doctor examine the child? Was a forensic interview with the child done in a fair and professional manner? Are there other witnesses? Is there an alternative explanation for any injuries that are observed? How are you coming across? Do you seem too angry and defensive?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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