Iowa DHS and Illinois DCFS workers are often in a hurry to speak with a person who is being investigated for child abuse or neglect. There is a reason for that rush, and it is not something that benefits justice or the person who is under investigation.
The reason why DCFS and DHS workers are in such a hurry to get a statement from a person who is the subject of a child abuse investigation is because they know that a person who is caught off guard and quickly convinced to speak is in the worst position possible to defend themselves. When a DHS or DCFS worker suddenly appears at a person’s door with a bombshell of an accusation – such as sexual or physical abuse of a child – the person who is accused is going to be in a state of shock initially.
Such a shocked person is likely to not say everything in the best possible way. They are also likely to not fully understand the law and their rights. The net result tends to be that people – no matter how innocent – saying something that can be used against them later in a child abuse report or in a criminal case.
Those who are contacted by DHS in Iowa or DCFS in Illinois should remember that they have the right to seek an attorney and to not answer any questions without their attorney present. No amount of posturing or threatening on the part of the DHS or DCFS worker should convince someone to give up those rights, as DHS/DCFS are not on a person’s side and do not have their best interests at heart. As an attorney who has handled a great many DHS and DCFS case in Iowa and Illinois, I know that child protective services employees routinely misrepresent what a person says to them and often find there to have been child abuse when, in fact, no abuse has occurred.
Remember, DHS and DCFS will take weeks to complete their child abuse reports. The only urgency in speaking to them relates to their goal of catching parents and other caregivers off guard and without an attorney. It is wise to avoid falling into that trap.