Timeline of a Case
  1. DCFS investigation/or police involvement. If police are first, they call DCFS.

  2. DCFS investigator determines with his/her supervisor to remove children from home. DCFS contacts State's Attorney about the removal.

  3. State's Attorney determines from evidence from DCFS and/or police if removal is justified. After removal, the court has 48 hours to hold a hearing to justify the removal of the children.

  4. Sheltered care hearing is held. CASA is notified and attends hearing as well as parents. If possible, parents are assigned an attorney. CASA is assigned an attorney as well. DCFS and/or police are present to witness. During the sheltered care hearing, parents can stipulate (accept) the removal. This does not mean they are pleading guilty. Or the parents can have a hearing to prove that removal was necessary. Judge determines if the children will be removed from the home on a temporary basis. Children can be returned home, but not likely.

  5. First Appearance - Make sure all parents have attorneys, addresses of fathers, DNA tests are ordered. Some of this can be done at the sheltered care hearing. Judge reads petition(charges).

  6. Admit/Deny - Parents either admit to the allegations of abuse or neglect or they deny them. If they admit, the case is adjudicated and the case is set over

    for a dispositional hearing. If they deny, the case is set over for a pre-trial

    hearing, then an adjudicatory hearing (trial).

  7. Pre-trial - Make sure everyone is on the same page. Sometimes parents admit at this hearing.

  8. Adjudicatory- State's Attorney and all parties can call witnesses. Testimonies are heard and all the lawyers have the right to cross examine. CASA has the right to call witnesses as well. The judge rules whether the parents are guilty or not guilty. If guilty, case is set for dispositional. The CASA advocate begins their work. If not guilty, children return home. (Parents sometimes admit at the beginning of the hearing and the trial is not held.)

  9. Dispositional - Caseworker has prepared a social history/dispositional report and a client service plan (CSP). This report should be sent out at least a week before the hearing.

  10. Testimony is conducted to determine if goals are in step with parent's and children's needs or problems. CASA advocate writes report with their recommendations too.

  11. Case is set for 6-month hearing cycle of permanency reviews. If case is more involved, status hearings can be set in between permanency reviews. CASA advocate writes reports at each permanency review or anytime there are significant issues. Parents have 9 months after dispositional hearing to improvebefore court can seek termination of parental rights.