People coming into the DCFS system who had had their children removed from their home are rightfully bewildered and confused. Even in justifiable cases of removal it is still a traumatic event. Removal of the children is necessary at times to protect their wellbeing. At other times the removal can be an error on the side of the Department. Once a case is opened it usually takes a minimum of six months for the case to run it’s course. This is with a simple case. Complicated matters or caregivers with drug and alcohol issues can have their case take 1-2 years. Usually these caregivers have to undergo drug and alcohol treatment and test consistently clean for up to one year before the children can be returned to their care.
Caregivers are usually required to take parenting classes. This teaches them how to discipline effectively and in a manner that is not physically abusive. Caregivers can also be mandated to attend anger management classes to learn how to constructively deal with their anger. They are taught how to properly express their anger without causing any harm to anyone either verbally, physically or emotionally. Once these skills are learned the home is usually a much better place. Communication is key when it comes to properly expressing one’s anger. Ways are learned to express the anger without attacking the other person’s character. Usually, a good resolution can come out of an angry exchange if done in the proper way. These skills are taught in the anger management classes.
Having one’s children removed from the home can be one of the most traumatic events to happen to a caregiver. Suddenly there are court dates to go to, attorneys to deal with and you also have to deal with the Department of Children and Family Services. Social workers come to the home and monitored visitation with the children may be set up. This comprises a controlled environment, usually at the DCFS offices. There is an outside party who sits in the visit and observes how the caregivers interact with the children. This is then communicated to the County Social Worker for the case and this information is usually included in the report to the court. If things go well, after a while the visits may become unmonitored, and the caregiver is able to take the children to the park or for ice cream. These visits can last from 3-4 hours. As the case progresses and if the caregivers are following the action plan, they may be granted overnight visits. All of this takes a lot of time and it may appear that the case drags on for years. In some cases, this is true. The safety and best interest of the child is what is the issue here.
The above items are not all inclusive and the experience can be a harrowing one for the caregivers. Most people cannot afford a private attorney so they are usually given a court appointed attorney. This person helps to guide them through the maze of one of these cases. If you find yourself with a DCFS case, it is best to cooperate with the department so things can progress as quickly as they possibly can.