DEPARTMENT OF ADOPTION & FAMILY SUPPORTIVE SERVICES
The Department seeks to serve the welfare and best interests of children and families involved in independent adoptions, guardianship, parentage and dissolution of marriage cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Caseworkers acting upon orders of the Court, conduct family centered social investigations and advise of findings through a final home study report that includes information collected through interviews, observations, and document reviews, as well as recommendations as to how the child’s best interest may be met by the parties involved.
The Department receives court orders from throughout the six districts of the Circuit Courts which include Chicago, Skokie, Maywood, Rolling Meadows, Bridgeview and Markham. Accordingly, the office generates approximately 400 social investigation reports a year rendering services to a large number of families residing throughout the county.
The social investigations, commonly referred to as “home study reports” are performed by caseworkers and specifically include an examination of the home environment, child well-being, family history, medical and mental well-being, economic well-being and background investigations. Additionally observations and recommendations regarding service needs and matters pertaining to allocation of parental responsibility, parenting time, guardianship of the minor or the suitability of families for adoption of non-related children are included in the final home study report submitted to the Court and relevant parties for consideration.
Best Practices: Successful Family Outcomes & Co-Parenting after Separation or Divorce
Research suggests that parental collaboration in childrearing through shared decision making and quality parenting time can positively impact child development and well-being. Children generally have a higher probability of successful outcomes after parental separation and/or divorce when they are able to share a healthy, loving relationship with both parents.
The Department conducts home based social investigations of cases concerning, parentage, domestic relationships, probate (guardianship) and adoption matters. The social investigation includes home visits, interviews and background checks of all residents in the home, observations of the home environment, collection of supporting documents, as well as DCFS and criminal background checks. The information collected is formatted into a final home study report submitted to the Court.
The Department conducts home studies, for a fee, for Courts located outside of Cook County adjudicating parental responsibility matters that involve residents of Cook County.
The Department assists Cook County Circuit Courts with locating home study agencies outside the jurisdiction of Cook County to conduct home studies of parents that reside outside the jurisdiction of Cook County but are involved in Cook County court proceedings.
The Department assists with fingerprint investigations and submits results to the proper parties.
The Department may take specific consents from birth parents and conduct an extensive interview of birth parents as part of the consent process.
The Department offers post-adoption services involving inquiries from adoptive parents, adult adoptees and confidential intermediaries concerning adoption matters its handled in the past. This entails conducting a search to locate an adoptee’s file to retrieve and share information allowable by law. Search assistance includes the release of non-identifying information which is defined by Illinois state law and includes descriptive information concerning the biological parents and grandparents.