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Family Defense Center Wins High Court Victory Against DCFS 'Environment-Injurious' Rule

CHICAGO, March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Family Defense Center announces a unanimous victory in the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled the state's child welfare agency exceeded its authority when it adopted a broad rule to label thousands of parents guilty of child neglect.

In Julie Q. v. DCFS, the Court rejected the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' defense of the "environment-injurious" rule, which was not part of Illinois' Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act in 2009 when DCFS used it to indicate Ms. Q. for neglect. The "environment-injurious" definition was removed from state statute by the General Assembly in 1980 on the grounds it was unclear. In its decision, the Court said DCFS exceeded its legal authority in labeling Ms. Q a child neglecter when the legislature had expressly removed the "environment-injurious" language from Illinois law.

"When the legislature stated that it was removing the environment-injurious language 'until such time that we can arrive' at a clearer definition, it was referring to a time when it, the legislature, arrived at the definition. It was not granting DCFS the authority to create a definition of its own," the ruling states.

FDC attorneys and their client Julie Q. will discuss the ruling Monday, March 25, at 1 p.m. via teleconference. For dial-in information, email , or call Shawn Taylor at 312-371-6260.

DCFS had received a hotline call from Julie Q.'s ex-husband as they were embroiled in a bitter custody battle. She subsequently lost custody of her 9-year-old daughter to the father – without any evidence of harm to the child. An estimated 13,000 families a year have been affected by the "environment-injurious" rule, according to DCFS estimates.  Julie Q. turned to the Family Defense Center which successfully challenged the decision in the Illinois Appellate Court in 2011.  After the Center's appellate victory, DCFS appealed.

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