Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Illinois

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 5/4; 5/4.5; 5/7

Any mandated reporter who has reasonable cause to believe a child known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or neglected child shall immediately report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Children and Family Services.

If an electronic and information technology equipment worker discovers any depiction of child pornography while installing, repairing, or otherwise servicing an item of electronic and information technology equipment, that worker or the worker's employer shall immediately report the discovery to the local law enforcement agency or to the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

All reports by mandated reporters shall be confirmed in writing to the appropriate child protective service unit, which may be on forms supplied by the department, within 48 hours of any initial report.

Written confirmation reports from persons not required to report may be made to the appropriate child protective service unit.

Content of Reports

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 5/7; 5/9

The initial oral report shall include the following, if known:

  • The name and address of the child and his or her parents or other persons having custody
  • The child's age
  • The nature of the child's condition, including any evidence of previous injuries or disabilities
  • Any other information that the person filing the report believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the abuse or neglect and the identity of the person believed to have caused the abuse or neglect

Initial written reports from the reporting source shall contain the following information to the extent known at the time the report is made:

  • The names and addresses of the child and his or her parents or other persons responsible for his or her welfare
  • The name and address of the school that the child attends or last attended, if the report is written during the summer when school is not in session
  • The name of the school district in which the school is located, if applicable
  • The child's age, sex, and race
  • The nature and extent of the child's abuse or neglect, including any evidence of prior injuries, abuse, or neglect of the child or his or her siblings
  • The names of the persons apparently responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • Family composition, including names, ages, sexes, and races of other children in the home
  • The name of the person making the report, his or her occupation, and where he or she can be reached
  • The actions taken by the reporting source, including the taking of photographs and x-rays, placing the child in temporary protective custody, or notifying the medical examiner or coroner
  • Any other information the person making the report believes might be helpful

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, § 5/4.1

A mandated reporter or any other person who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has died as a result of abuse or neglect shall report to the appropriate medical examiner.

The medical examiner or coroner shall investigate the report and communicate any apparent gross findings orally, immediately upon completion of the gross autopsy, but in all cases within 72 hours, and in writing within 21 days, to the local law enforcement agency, the appropriate State's attorney, the department, and, if the institution making the report is a hospital, the hospital.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, § 5/7.3b

All mandated reporters may refer any pregnant person who has a substance use disorder as defined in the Substance Use Disorder Act to the department.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 5/7; 5/7.6

All reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made immediately by telephone to the central register on the single, statewide, toll-free telephone number; in person or by telephone through the nearest department office.

Any report received by the department alleging the abuse or neglect of a child by a person who is not the child's parent, a member of the child's immediate family, a person responsible for the child's welfare, an individual residing in the same home as the child, or a paramour of the child's parent shall immediately be referred to the appropriate local law enforcement agency for consideration of criminal investigation or other action.

There shall be a single statewide, toll-free telephone number established and maintained by the department that all persons, whether or not mandated by law, may use to report suspected child abuse or neglect at any hour of the day or night, on any day of the week. Immediately upon receipt of such reports, the department shall transmit the contents of the report, either orally or electronically, to the appropriate child protective service unit. Any other person may use the statewide number to obtain assistance or information concerning the handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 300.100

When a report of child abuse or neglect is received, the department shall make an initial investigation to validate whether there is reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect exists. When investigative staff determine that there is reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect exists, a formal investigation shall be made.

Investigative staff will use the following criteria to determine whether there is a good faith indication to believe that abuse or neglect exists:

  • The alleged victim must be younger than age 18.
  • The alleged victim must either have been harmed or be in substantial risk of harm.
  • There must be an abusive or neglectful incident or set of circumstances that caused the alleged harm or substantial risk of harm to the child.
  • For abuse, the alleged perpetrator must be the child's parent, foster parent, guardian, immediate family member, any individual who resides in the same house as the child, the paramour of the child's parent, or any person responsible for the child's welfare at the time of the alleged abuse.
  • For neglect, the alleged perpetrator must be the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, or any person responsible for the child's welfare at the time of the alleged neglect.

If any one of the above criteria is not present, a determination will be made that the report does not provide a good faith indication that child abuse or neglect exists, and the investigation will be terminated. If the above criteria are present, investigative staff will begin a formal investigation.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, § 5/7.3

The department shall be the sole agency responsible for receiving and investigating reports of child abuse or neglect, except where investigations by other agencies may be required with respect to reports alleging the abuse or neglect of a child by a person who is not the child's parent, a member of the child's immediate family, a person responsible for the child's welfare, an individual residing in the same home as the child, or a paramour of the child's parent, the death of a child, serious injury of a child, or sexual abuse of a child.

The department may delegate the performance of the investigation to the State police, a law enforcement agency, and to those private social service agencies that have been designated for this purpose by the department prior to July 1, 1980.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the department shall adopt rules expressly allowing law enforcement personnel to investigate reports of suspected child abuse or neglect concurrently with the department, without regard to whether the department determines a report to be 'indicated' or 'unfounded' or deems a report to be 'undetermined.'

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, § 5/7.4

Beginning January 1, 2010, the department may implement a 'differential response program' in which the department, upon receiving a report, shall determine whether to conduct a family assessment or an investigation as appropriate to prevent or provide a remedy for child abuse or neglect.

A 'family assessment' is a comprehensive assessment of child safety, risk of subsequent child maltreatment, and family strengths and needs that is applied to a child maltreatment report that does not allege substantial child endangerment. A family assessment does not include a determination as to whether child maltreatment occurred but does determine the need for services to address the safety of family members and the risk of subsequent maltreatment.

An 'investigation' includes fact-gathering related to the current safety of a child and the risk of subsequent abuse or neglect that determines whether a report of suspected child abuse or neglect should be indicated or unfounded and whether child protective services are needed.

Under the differential response program, the department shall proceed as follows:

  • Shall investigate reports involving substantial child abuse or neglect
  • Shall begin an immediate investigation if, at any time during a family assessment, it determines that there is reason to believe that substantial child abuse or neglect or a serious threat to the child's safety exists
  • May conduct a family assessment for reports that do not allege substantial child endangerment
  • May conduct a family assessment on a report that was initially screened and assigned for an investigation

Once it is determined that a family assessment will be implemented, the case shall not be reported to the central register.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, §§ 5/7.4; 5/7.12

If it appears that the immediate safety or well-being of a child is endangered, that the family may flee, or the child may disappear, child protective services (CPS) shall commence an investigation immediately, regardless of the time of day or night. In all other cases, an investigation shall begin within 24 hours.

The CPS unit shall determine, within 60 days, whether the report is indicated or unfounded and report it forthwith to the central register. When it is not possible to initiate or complete an investigation within 60 days, the report may be deemed undetermined provided every effort has been made to undertake a complete investigation. The department may extend the period in which such determinations must be made in individual cases for additional periods of up to 30 days each for good cause shown.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 325, § 5/7.14; Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 300.110(i)(3)

All reports in the central register shall be classified in one of three categories: 'indicated,' 'unfounded,' or 'undetermined,' as the case may be.

In regulation: Upon completion of a formal investigation of abuse or neglect, investigative staff shall make a final determination as to whether a child was abused or neglected. Allegations may be determined to be indicated, undetermined, or unfounded, as follows:

  • When credible evidence of abuse or neglect has been obtained pertinent to an allegation, the allegation is indicated.
  • When credible evidence of abuse or neglect has not been obtained, the allegation is unfounded.
  • When investigative staff have been unable, for good cause, to gather sufficient facts to support a decision within 60 days of the date the report was received, the allegation shall be considered undetermined.