Can Foster Parent Appeal Child Removal from Home ?

In In re R.M., 288 Ill. App. 3d 811, 681 N.E.2d 652, 224 Ill. Dec. 337 (1997) the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had removed the minor from a foster home and placed her in a different home after she was diagnosed with nonorganic failure to thrive, or malnutrition. The initial foster parent filed a service appeal challenging the removal of R.M. from her home. Upon emergency review, a DCFS hearing officer issued an interim decision finding there was no risk of imminent harm to R.M., and she was returned to the initial foster home. DCFS then conducted an optional mediation as part of the service appeal process, but the placement issue was not resolved. Although the service appeal was still pending, the minor's court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) filed an emergency motion to change placement with the juvenile court. Following an evidentiary hearing, the juvenile court found that it was not in the child's best interest to remain in that home, and ordered her removed from the foster home and placed in a specific alternate foster home. the appellate court vacated the juvenile court's order, noting that "had there been an immediate and urgent necessity to remove R.M. from the foster home, the juvenile court could have removed R.M. from such a dangerous placement by holding a temporary/shelter care hearing pursuant to section 2-10 of the Juvenile Court Act." R.M., 288 Ill. App. 3d at 818, 681 N.E.2d at 657. However, the court found no evidence of such necessity, adding that "the GAL could have completed the service appeal process without putting R.M. in any immediate danger." R.M., 288 Ill. App. 3d at 819, 681 N.E.2d at 657. Thus the court held that the GAL's action in filing the emergency motion with the juvenile court "was simply an attempt to circumvent the DCFS service appeal process." R.M., 288 Ill. App. 3d at 820, 681 N.E.2d at 658.