Two Courtrooms in Kane County:
CASA Kane County is appointed a child's Guardian ad Litem in two Kane County courtrooms for children ages birth through 21: abuse/neglect court and probate court. See definitions below.
The CASA/GAL is a party to the case in abuse and neglect court. The Judge will appoint an attorney to provide legal representation for the CASA/GAL. Through the attorney, the CASA/GAL is entitled to file motions; call and cross examine witnesses; present evidence; argue pleadings and motions; and receive notices and other documents.
In Kane County, CASA is appointed as Guardian ad Litem in private guardianship cases. CASA interviews the parties involved and visits with the prospective guardians at their home. A report is submitted to the court and CASA is discharged once a guardian is appointed.
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) receives an average of 4,000 calls in Kane County every year—which is the sixth highest number of child abuse and neglect reports by county in the State of Illinois. In the most serious cases, DCFS must take protective custody of the child and bring the case to court within 48 hours. It is at this initial court hearing--the Shelter Care Hearing--when CASA Kane County is appointed as the child’s Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL).
Shelter Care or Temporary Custody Hearing
The judge decides if the case should be in court, and if so, where the child should live until the Adjudicatory Hearing and Dispositional Hearing are completed.
After hearing all of the information (evidence) the judge will decide if the child should go home, live with a relative or go to a foster home, group home or institution. The judge will also decide if the parents should be ordered to do certain things.
Adjudicatory Hearing (The Trial)
In Juvenile Court it is called an Adjudicatory Hearing – if it were in adult court the hearing would be a trial. This hearing should be held about 90 days after the child is removed from the home. At this hearing information is presented to help the judge decide if the child is:
- An abused minor
- A neglected minor
- A dependent minor
If the judge finds that the child has not been abused or neglected, the child will be returned to the parents. However, if the judge decides there was abuse or neglect, then the judge will then decide what will happen to the child. The next decision takes place at the Dispositional Hearing.
The Dispositional Hearing
If the judge decides that the child is neglected, abused, or dependent he or she decides what to do to help the child. This happens at the Dispositional Hearing. The Dispositional Hearing is usually held within 30 days of the Adjudicatory Hearing
At this hearing, the judge decides what is in the best interest of the child and puts it in a court order. The judge also may order the caseworker to provide certain services for the child and the family, and may order each parent to do certain things.
At the Dispositional Hearing, the judge may make the child a “ward of the court.” That means the judge will have more control over what happens to the child.
As long as the child is a ward of the court, there will be hearings for the judge to see how things are going. These are called Permanency Hearings. The first Permanency Hearing must be heard within 12 months of the time the child was removed from the home. Ongoing hearings must be held at least every six months after that. The hearings continue until the child is returned home or another permanent plan is made for him or her.
At all the hearings described above, the judge will tell the parents that they must cooperate with their caseworker, follow the requirements included in the service plan and correct the condition which required the child to be placed in foster care; otherwise the parents risk having their parental rights terminated.
Termination of Parental Rights
If the parents do not correct the conditions that led to the child’s removal, the judge may decide to terminate the parent’s rights to raise the child. This is called “Termination of Parental Rights.” Termination of Parental Rights means that a parent no longer has any legal rights to a child. The child’s foster parents, relatives, or other specially picked people may then adopt the child. This is a permanent situation that may cut off any more contact between the parent and the child.
Important Laws, Acts and Statutory Authority to Know:
- The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974
- The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980
- The Indian Child Welfare ActThe Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
- 705 ILCS/2-17.1 – Court Appointed Special Advocates
- 705 ILCS 405/1-3(4.05) - Best Interests
- Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act