Allocation of Parental Responsibility & Probate (Guardianship) Services
Conduct intake and home study investigations of parties involved in child permanency related family disputes in response to orders from the Court;
Create a final report that includes observations, conclusions, and recommendations to the Court;
Conduct home studies (for a fee) in response to out of state court requests for families located within our office service area;
Seek out providers to conduct home studies for the Circuit Court of Cook County when a parent or guardian is located outside the office service area
Judicial Court Order
The Circuit Court orders DAFSS to perform a home study in cases in which the judge is seeking information on the familial relationships and home environment of the child and the family prior to determinations. DAFSS involvement only begins upon receipt of the court order.
Submission of Home Study Report
DAFSS' goal is to complete the home study court order requests within 90 days from the date the court order was entered. It is important that the office receives a copy of the order as soon as possible. Completion of the home study requires that all parties cooperate with the caseworker and with each other. For liability reasons, DAFSS cannot arrange the transportation of the children to the interviews.
Overview of Home Study Procedures
- Upon receiving a copy of the court order, the case is processed and parent questionnaires, school reports, and attorney letters are mailed to relevant parties.
- The assigned caseworker contacts the parents and/or guardian to schedule the home study assessment.
- The study typically takes place on one day within a three hour time span.
- The study typically begins at the home of the parent or guardian who has primary residential care of the minor.
- The caseworker conducts a walk-through of the home inquiring about the safety and appropriateness of the home environment.
- The caseworker conducts an extensive interview with the parent and the child (depending on the child’s age), and the caseworker observes interactions between parent and child.
- The case worker also interviews everyone that resides in the home and conducts a DCFS background check and Cook County criminal background check for all individuals over age 18 living in the home.
- Upon completion of the study at the first home, a parent or guardian transports the child to the home of the parent that does not have residential care of the minor.
- The caseworker completes the home study at the non-residential parent’s home following the same process and procedures listed above.
Key Family Law Terms:
Parenting Plan – is a written agreement that outlines significant decision making responsibilities, parenting time, or both
Allocation of Parental Responsibility – previously referred to as custody
Parental Responsibility - parenting time and decision making responsibilities with respect to the child. This includes routine decision making, short term decisions about the child’s health and safety, and significant decision making of long term importance.
Shared Parental Responsibility – previously known as joint custody
Parenting Time – previously referred to as visitation. During parenting time, a parent shall exercise caretaking functions and has the sole responsibility for making routine decisions and emergency decisions affecting the child’s health and safety.
Restriction of Parenting Time – means a limitation/condition placed on parenting time including supervision (presence of a third person during a parent’s parenting time)
Right of First Refusal – if a parent intends to leave the child with a child care provider for a significant amount of time, the parent must first offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child.
Supporting Parent - the parent obliged to pay support to the other parent
Recipient of Support – is the parent receiving support
Relocation – occurs when the child moves from present location to a new location with the parent who has residency. Parent must provide at least 60 days written notice of intent to relocate and a copy of the notice must be filed with the circuit court.
Caretaking Functions – tasks that involve interaction with a child or that direct, arrange, and supervise the interaction and care of a child provided by others, or for obtaining the resources allowing for the provision of these functions
• nutritional needs,
• night and morning routines,
• play and extracurricular activities,
• physical safety, transportation;
• disciplinary matters,
• developmental needs,
• educational issues including communicating with school staff and supervising homework;
• medical and dental appointments, and arranging alternative care when needed
Frequently Asked Questions
How and why do you need a copy of the court order?
Our involvement in the home study process is triggered by the order. If we do not receive the order, we are not aware of the order or the case.
How will I be notified about the home study?
A caseworker will call to schedule an appointment. If the caseworker is unable to reach the parent by phone, a letter will be mailed to the last known address. Additionally, a packet is mailed to the home indicating that our office has been assigned to conduct the home study and requesting background information regarding the case.
What if I don’t want to participate?
Failure to contact the caseworker regarding the home study will result in a status letter sent to the Judge notifying the Judge of non-compliance. Failure to make the child available during the home study may constitute non-compliance unless there are extenuating circumstances that are discussed with the caseworker. We will not make any one participate in the home study assessment if they do not want to.
Does the child have to participate in the home study assessment?
Yes, the child is expected to participate in the home study. It is important that we have an opportunity to observe parent/child interaction and that the child (depending upon age) is given an opportunity to express his or her experiences and wishes regarding court matters.
Who is responsible for transporting the child between the homes during the assessment?
DAFSS cannot transport the children between homes. The parents are responsible for working out a transportation plan.
How long does the home study assessment last?
The home study typically takes about three hours to complete, but may take longer depending on the number of residents living in the home and the complexity of the family case. All home studies are completed during the work week between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. Home studies are not conducted on the weekend nor are they conducted after office hours. Every resident should be interviewed and submit to a DCFS and Cook County criminal background check.
How can I receive a copy of the home study?
If a parent is represented by counsel, a copy of the home study is forwarded to the attorney. A copy of the home study is provided to the Court. A copy of the home study can be mailed or emailed to parents upon request.
Can I file for allocation of responsibility or guardianship with this office?
No. All motions and pleadings are filed at the Daley Center. If you require assistance with filing, you may seek the following resources for help:
Guardianship Resource: Located in the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Guardianship Help Desk for Minors at 69 W. Washington St., Suite 1020. You may also call 312.603.0135 to make an appointment.
Parentage and Child Support Resource: Located in the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Room CL24 on the concourse level