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An Allegation of Abuse or Neglect Against Me was “Substantiated”; What Do I Do Now?

By Allison Schreiber Lee

If you have been the subject of an investigation by the Division of Family Services, Children’s Division (also known as “DFS” or “the Children’s Division”) that has been substantiated with a finding of neglect, you have a very short window of time to file a notice of appeal of that decision, so it’s essential you contact an attorney quickly. Once that window of time passes without you filing an appeal, your name will be entered on the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry with the state. 

When you file an appeal of a claim that was substantiated by the Children’s Division, your appeal is heard by the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (“CANRB”). The CANRB is a committee of nine members appointed by the governor. Each member serves a term of three years. The committee must have:  one medical professional; one psychologist, counselor, or social worker; one representative of law enforcement; and one attorney. The hearing by the CANRB may be in person or over the phone, and the committee can review hearsay statements and other evidence that would not be admissible in a court of law. There is no cross-examination allowed so it’s important that you discuss with your attorney a strategy for your case that will take those issues into account. 

The CANRB will issue a decision either upholding the finding of the Children’s Division or overturning it. If the CANRB upholds the decision, your name is placed on the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry with the state unless stayed by a circuit court order on appeal. To appeal a decision of the CANRB, you have to file an appeal in the circuit court of the county in which the abuse or neglect allegedly occurred; that appeal is called a trial de novo. 

For questions about the Children’s Division, the CANRB, or any other family law matter, contact one of the attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. 


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Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee is a seasoned trial attorney and has been lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials. In 2011, Ms. Schreiber Lee was co-lead counsel in one of the longest jury trials in the history of the City of St. Louis. Ms. Lee has also tried more than 100 non-jury trials to verdict, including representation in divorce and modification hearings.