Foster parents are often the subject of child abuse investigations by DHS (in Iowa) or DCFS (in Illinois). Properly handing such an investigation is especially important.
Foster parents are often in a situation where they are caring for children who have experienced trauma. Such children will often have emotional, behavior, and psychological issues that take years to heal. While being in a good foster home can help such children begin that healing process, the harm from that preexisting trauma can also lead a foster child to make false claims about abuse, which are then investigated by DHS in Iowa or DCFS in Illinois.
As an attorney who handles cases involving DHS and DCFS child abuse accusations, I have seen many cases where a person (or couple) provides foster care for a child in need, only to have that child make a false accusation of child abuse or neglect against the foster parents. Such accusations can take the form of sexual abuse, physical abuse, denial of critical care, etc. Very often, a foster child who makes such an accusation does so due to the painful experiences they have had in the past, completely unrelated to the current foster parents.
Even when a such an accusation is without any basis in fact, DHS and DCFS will often turn the foster parents’ lives upside down. It is commonplace for DHS in Iowa or DCFS in Illinois to remove any and all foster children from the home, or demand that the accused foster parent leave the home. In many cases, DCFS or DHS will also threaten to remove any biological children from the home as well. Cases where child abuse is confirmed/founded by DHS or DCFS, a person’s ability to provide foster care in the future may be affected.
Properly handling such a situation is of the utmost importance, both to protect the foster parent and the other children who would be harmed if removed from their care. For that reason, a foster parent who is facing a DHS or DCFS investigation is well advised to not speak to anyone on their own, and to instead seek an attorney at once.