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In re Sean A.

June 29, 2004

[5] IN RE SEAN A., A MINOR (THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN) FULTON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, AND FAMILY SERVICES, APPELLANT.


[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit No. 03--JA--18. Honorable Patricia A. Walton, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien

[8]  The appellant, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), brings this interlocutory appeal from an order of the trial court granting temporary custody of the minor, Sean A. (Sean), to the DCFS and ordering the DCFS to place Sean in an appropriate residential placement. On appeal, the DCFS argues that the trial court erred when it ordered the DCFS to place Sean in residential treatment after it determined that the DCFS should take temporary custody of Sean. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL), on behalf of Sean, argues that this court does not have jurisdiction to hear this appeal. After a careful review of the record, we find: (1) appellate jurisdiction has been properly invoked pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 306(a)(5) (166 Ill. 2d R. 306(a)(5)); and (2) the trial court had the authority to order the DCFS to place Sean in residential treatment after it ruled the that DCFS should take temporary custody of him. Therefore, we affirm.

[9]  I. FACTS

[10]   A. Background

[11]   On September 18, 2003, the State filed a delinquency petition with regard to 14-year-old Sean. A detention hearing was held that same day. At the hearing, Sean stipulated that there was probable cause to believe that he was delinquent and that it was a matter of immediate and urgent necessity for his protection that he be detained.

[12]   The trial court noted that the State had also filed a petition alleging that Sean was a neglected minor and that there had been a pending case against Sean in McDonough County. In the one count neglect petition, the State alleged that Sean was neglected because he was not receiving the proper care and support as necessary for his well-being, or, in the alternative, that he was abandoned by his mother. The State alleged that Sean's mother blamed Sean for the family's problems, that she had repeatedly contacted professionals involved in the case and stated that she wished to surrender her parental rights, and that she failed to fully cooperate with service providers.

[13]   At the conclusion of the detention hearing, the trial court entered an order finding probable cause to believe that Sean was delinquent and ordered that he be held in the Mary Davis home for seven days. It also ordered the DCFS to procure a residential placement for Sean during that seven day period and set a shelter care hearing at the end of that period.

[14]   On September 25, 2003, the trial court held a status hearing on the delinquency petition and a shelter care hearing on the neglect petition. At the combined hearing, the State asked the trial court to place Sean in the temporary custody and guardianship of the DCFS. The DCFS did not oppose that request. However, the DCFS opposed any request that it be ordered to make a specific placement of Sean.

[15]   The trial court found probable cause that Sean was neglected and that there was an immediate and urgent necessity that he be placed in the temporary custody of the DCFS. It then ordered that the DCFS place Sean in residential treatment after reviewing Sean's mental health records and taking judicial notice of a prior case involving Sean in McDonough County.

[16]   The DCFS objected to the trial court's order which had placed Sean in the custody of the DCFS and additionally required a specific placement for Sean. It argued that the court only had two alternatives after finding that Sean should be placed in temporary custody: (1) it could choose a specific placement; or (2) it could place Sean in the custody of DCFS and let the DCFS choose where Sean was placed.

[17]   The trial court rejected the DCFS' argument. It ruled that it had the statutory authority to appoint the DCFS custodian of Sean and order that Sean be placed in a residential treatment center. The trial court noted that such an order was necessary in this case based on Sean's unmet mental health needs.

[18]   On December 4, 2003, this court granted the DCFS' petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 306(a)(5). 166 Ill. 2d R. 306(a)(5).

[19]   B. Relevant Statutes

[20]   Supreme Court Rule 306 provides, in ...


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