• Family Justice Resource Center

A Place To Turn: Center Offers Help To Parents Facing Child Abuse Claims

Board President Diane Redleaf, Vice President Alan Novick, and Executive Director Michelle Weidner are featured in a Bloomington Pantagraph about the mission and services of the Family Justice Resource Center.


A segment of the article follows:


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Bloomington attorney Alan Novick serves on the board of directors for the resource center. With more than 30 years of courtroom experience, Novick noted the majority of cases that make their way to abuse and neglect court involve parents with substance abuse or domestic violence issues. When other forms of abuse are alleged, parents may need more than legal advice to combat the accusation, said Novick.


“Our job is to get the resources together for them, for the parents who are caught up in the system. That’s why the Family Justice Resource Center exists,” said Novick.


Diane Redleaf, also a member of the center’s board, is legal director of the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare in Chicago where she directs its Redleaf Family Advocacy Institute. Redleaf has been involved in litigation responsible for major policy changes in the handling of child abuse cases in Illinois and across the U.S.


As evidence that more change is needed, Redleaf points to the high number of unfounded allegations of child abuse reported through state hotline call centers each year. About 7.4 million hotline calls are received nationwide, with an estimated 80 percent alleging some form of neglect or abuse.


About 40 percent of those calls are screened out of the system, leaving between 800,000 to 1 million claims of all types of abuse to be investigated, according to Redleaf.


In Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services conducted investigations involving 77,423 families in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. A total of 20,002 investigations resulted in indicated findings, or credible allegations.


Troubling to Redleaf and other attorneys for families are the nearly 57,000 cases — almost two-thirds of the investigations — that ended with unfounded complaints against parents. A total of 424 complaints were pending at year’s end.

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Read entire article in the Bloomington Pantagraph here.