Before You Call DCFS

Families should be able to remain together, especially during this pandemic.

Families should be able to remain together, especially during this pandemic.

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA) requires all mandated reporters to contact the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) if they suspect a child is being abused and/or neglected. However, state definitions of “neglect” are extremely vague and subjective and can lead to families being policed and punished for lacking resources. In addition, racial bias leads to a disproportionate percentage of Black families experiencing an investigation for neglect or abuse. In these trying times, it is essential to prevent unnecessary investigation and separation of families.

Instead of reporting families to DCFS, mandated reporters can take alternative measures to assist families and their communities. This resource guide offers proposed solutions to address the actual needs of families in situations that the ANCRA consider neglectful, as well as a list of organizations that would better serve these families than DCFS. The guide details sources of support for food security, childcare, drug and alcohol recovery, and technological resources.

Everyone deserves support when they are in need.  When a report is made to DCFS, it only adds to the stress of the family. We need to invest in resources necessary to support families, not exacerbate the burdens families already face by reporting them to child welfare. Reaching out to other organizations that can provide those supports, before reporting to DCFS, is a better option.

Before You Call DCFS (PDF) 

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