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Legal Services

Legal Services

The Family Defense Center

Legal services for Illinois residents who need representation in Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) administrative hearings and investigations.

Services Offered

Legal Services • Child Welfare • DCFS • Child Protective Services


The Family Defense Center handles the following types of cases:

  • Ongoing DCFS investigations for abuse or neglect
  • Safety Plan negotiations
  • Appeals of Indicated findings and Administrative Review Actions
  • A limited number of Juvenile Court cases in which DCFS is attempting to take protective custody if we have been counseling the client during an open investigation
  • Civil rights cases alleging violations of the 4th and 14th amendments. Precedential appellate cases

The Family Defense Center does NOT handles the following types of cases:

  • Divorce
  • Parentage/paternity
  • Child Support
  • Criminal cases
  • Open Juvenile Court cases (this means that if your Juvenile Court case has already started when you first contact us, we will most likely not be able to offer you legal representation)
  • Adoption
  • Private custody cases
  • Guardianship
  • Cases in Domestic Relations Court such as Orders of Protection
  • DCFS foster care placement appeals


70 E. Lake St., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60601 41.8860676 -87.6256982

Service Options

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • Spanish


The Family Defense Center's direct representation of individuals at hearings is limited to individuals whose cases are being heard in Cook County or collar counties. If you are calling about a case that is NOT in the state of Illinois, please be aware that they may be able to provide a referral but cannot advise or represent you.

They charge sliding-scale fees for legal services. Fees are determined based on your income and the size of your family. Families whose incomes are below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible for free legal services and other clients may be eligible for partial fee reductions under the fee schedule or a referral to pro bono services with a $150 supervision fee.


  • Services provided on a sliding scale


  • Adults accepted
  • Seniors accepted

How to Apply

If you believe your case falls into the scope of The Family Defense Center's scope of services, call the Intake Line at 312-251-9800 x1 on M-Th

The Intake process includes:

  1. Determining if you will pay full legal service fees or require sliding fee scale. If you will pay full legal fees, there will be a $25 registration fee due immediately. Your case will be reviewed promptly following payment. Follow the instructions on the Intake Line recording for more details.
  2. If you will pay full legal fees, leave your full name, phone number and city, county and state where you legal matter is occurring.
  3. You will receive a call back within two business days to begin the prescreening paperwork.