Adoption Law | Child Custody | Child Neglect | Child Abuse

Child Neglect

Child neglect is a punishable offense in the state of Illinois. Under the state's Parental Responsibility Law, parents are required to provide proper care for children under age 18 by giving them food, clothing, shelter, supervision, and medical care. If they do not, they can be found by the court as guilty of neglect or abuse.

The state has established a number of situations that are considered “neglect.”  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Newborn infants whose blood or urine is found to contain any amount of a controlled substance
  • Observed or reported physical or sexual abuse, torture or excessive corporal punishment of a child. (It is important to note that, while parents are free to discipline their children, the courts draw the line at actual abuse.)
  • Permitting a child to do something blatantly dangerous or illegal, like drive a car without a license

When parents do not or cannot take care of their children, even for a brief period, a juvenile court judge may place the minors in a foster home or appropriate residence. Parents will not be reunited with their children until the judge is confident that the alleged problems have been corrected. On occasion, the court requires the parent(s) to undergo counseling.  Parents who fail to comply with the court's ruling may permanently lose custody of their children. By law, parents may have to pay for damages their children cause as a result of a willful, malicious act.

It important for parents to be aware that, while they have typically been given considerable control over the lives of their children, courts have recently granted some of these rights to the minors themselves. For example, minors now have the right to birth control information and treatment for venereal disease without parental consent.

Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page.

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