DCF Investigation Process

When a report of neglect or child abuse is made, an investigation is initiated. An investigation will determine whether the child is being abused or neglected and if so, this can lead to take steps to protect the safety of the child.  

But first, what is DCF?  

The Department of Children and Families, otherwise known as DCF is a state agency who is responsible for protecting children who are at risk of abuse or neglect. DCF has a variety of programs and services designed to help children and families in need. 

Typically, these are the steps to a DCF investigation process 

  1. Screening 
    • The first step of the DCF investigation process is screening, which determines whether the report made meets the criteria of a DCF investigation. This occurs by reviewing the information provided by the reporter, and possibly contacting the reporter for additional information if necessary.  
  2. Assessment 
    • If the report is determined to meet the criteria of a DCF investigation, a social worker will conduct an assessment of the safety of the child. This may include interviewing the child, the parents, and other relevant individuals. The social worker will also review any relevant records such as medical records or school records.  
  3. Investigation 
    • If it is concluded by the social worker that the child is at risk, an investigation will be conducted. This included gathering more information about the allegations of abuse and neglect. The social worker may conduct a home visit, interview witnesses, and review additional records.  
  4. Findings 
    • After an investigation is concluded, the social worker will make a finding of whether or not the child was abused or neglected. If the result is positive, the social worker will recommend services or interventions to protect the child’s safety. 
  5. Resolution 
    • The case will be resolved in accordance with the recommendations of the social worker. This may include providing services to the family, placing the child in foster care, or taking other legal action.  


The DCF investigation process can be a stressful experience for families. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of the investigation is to protect the child’s safety. If you are involved in a DCF investigation, you should cooperate with the social worker and provide them with the information they need to make a determination about the child’s safety. 

How long does a DCF investigation take? 

The length of a DCF investigation varies depending on the complexity of the case. However, most investigations are completed within 45 days. In some cases, the investigation may take longer, especially if the case is complex or if the family is not cooperating. 

What happens if DCF finds that my child was abused or neglected? 

If DCF finds that your child was abused or neglected, they will recommend services or interventions to protect the child’s safety. These services may include parenting classes, counseling, or in-home support. In some cases, DCF may place the child in foster care. 

What if I disagree with DCF’s findings? 

If you disagree with DCF’s findings, you have the right to appeal the decision through the Administrative Hearings Process.  

If you are involved in a DCF investigation, it is important to get legal help. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and can represent you at any hearing or meeting. 


Contact an experienced DCF Lawyer today 

If you are considering divorce and custody mediation, I encourage you to reach out to a mediator who can help you learn more about the process and to decide if mediation is right for you. 

At the Christie Law Firm, our experienced Family Attorney is dedicated to help parties learn more about the process. Please call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. 

What is a Connecticut Department of Children & Families “Family Assessment Response”?

When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) receives a report of child abuse or neglect, they must take action. The agency has two options – open a full investigation into the matter or use its Family Assessment Response (FAR) System to help the family access various resources. Here’s what you need to know about the Family Assessment Response in DCF cases and why you still need to use caution even if DCF chooses FAR.

What is a Connecticut Department of Children and Families “Family Assessment Response”?

The Family Assessment Response (FAR) system is considered the low-risk one when it comes to DCF responses. This is a 45-day risk assessment by a DCF social worker or investigator that is meant to help a family gain access to helpful resources, such as mental health services. While it is similar to a full investigation, it doesn’t end with a finding of substantiation of abuse or neglect.

The most important thing to understand about the FAR process is that it can be converted to a full investigation at any point. If the investigator feels there is a need, they have the discretion to escalate your case, which raises the stakes for you and your children. While FAR is always the preferable option, there are never any guarantees when you are dealing with DCF.

Types of Cases That Don’t Qualify for FAR Status

According to the CT DCF guidelines, several types of cases or situations are not eligible to be treated classified as a Family Assessment Response. In other words, they would instead move to a full investigation. These include:

  • Any new CPS report where there is an active investigation or an ongoing services case, excluding instances of Voluntary Services (this can include reports in other states);
  • Prior child fatality due to neglect or abuse;
  • Foster care (not including allegations involving the adoptive or biological children of a foster parent), congregate care, or persons entrusted (these include daycare providers);
  • Previous adjudication of neglect or abuse in juvenile Superior Court or a comparable out-of-state court, including any prior termination of parental rights within the past five years; or
  • Sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or another person given access to the child by a parent or guardian. However, if there is no sexual abuse but rather child sexualized behaviors, this case may be treated as neglect and classified on a case-by-case basis.

How DCF Handles the Family Assessment Response Process

If your Connecticut DCF case gets classified as a Family Assessment Response, the agency will still investigate any allegations of abuse or neglect. But instead of making any findings, an assigned social worker will meet with your family and do one of three things:

  • Close your case after determining that no further assistance is required;
  • Provide any necessary assistance to your family; or
  • Refer your family to an outside agency for assistance or service.

Remember, the investigator assigned to your case can always change their mind and convert the case to a full investigation at any point. This could result in the filing of a Neglect Petition and the eventual removal of your child from the home.

Protecting Your Rights When Dealing With DCF

Whether your case is treated as a Family Assessment Response or something more, you should never let your guard down with DCF. While you want to cooperate with the agency, you need to protect the rights of you and your children.

You don’t have to meet a DCF investigator or social worker alone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You also don’t have to agree to have your child interviewed alone by an investigator. You have the right to have an attorney present for these interviews, and we recommend that you seek qualified counsel as soon as possible in this process.

Contact an Experienced Hartford DCF Attorney

It’s important to understand that, even if DCF chooses to treat classify your case as Family Assessment Response, they can escalate it to a full investigation at any point. The agency wields tremendous power. But you have rights as well.

At The Christie Law Firm, we specialize in protecting the rights of our clients who are forced to deal with DCF allegations. If you are contacted by DCF or law enforcement, we recommend you simply remain calm and contact our office. Working with a skilled and experienced attorney is the best way to protect your rights and work toward the most positive outcome possible. Please call (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to find out how we can help.


Should I Call a Lawyer Before Speaking With DCF?

When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) receives a report of abuse or neglect, it will respond immediately. In most cases, the agency will launch an investigation, which can last up to 45 days and lead to DCF becoming a constant presence in your life.

Unfortunately, too many parents react to DCF involvement in their lives by downplaying the seriousness of the situation or mistakenly believing that the investigator will close their matter quickly. This rarely happens, and parents discover too late that they should have consulted with an attorney before dealing with DCF.

Don’t Be in Denial About How DCF Works

Too frequently, when a parent learns that DCF has been contacted about an abuse or neglect allegation involving their child, the first thought goes something like this: I have nothing to hide, DCF won’t find anything out about me or my family, I will just explain what happened, and they will understand, etc.

It’s part of the investigator’s job to make you feel comfortable enough to disclose information freely. In many cases, DCF will substantiate a finding of abuse or neglect based on a behavior that you never even realized was a problem. And once that finding happens, you will have a hard time getting DCF out of your life. You even risk having your children removed from your home.

Should I Call a Lawyer Before Speaking With DCF?

While you may want to cooperate with DCF, you should go about it wisely. Your best strategy is to tell the DCF investigator that you want to cooperate and answer their questions but would like to speak with an attorney first. If they are persistent, you can insist.

DCF investigators are employees of the state. This means, as a private citizen, if DCF is at your home and asking to enter and speak with your children, you can refuse. You can allow the investigator to look at your children. But you don’t have to allow them to question your children without having a lawyer present.

The exception to this is if DCF arrives with an order to remove your children from the home. You will always need to comply with a court order, but should still contact an attorney as soon as possible to advocate for your rights.

Do I Need to Tell My Lawyer Everything?

Your DCF defense attorney is on your side. They will ask you a lot of questions about your situation, your children, and yourself. Some questions might seem personal, or you might feel embarrassed about revealing information. But, remember that everything you tell your attorney must be kept confidential. Unless you say something that could place another person in danger, your lawyer isn’t permitted to tell anyone what you say without your permission.

So be completely upfront with your attorney. The more they know, the better — especially if what you tell them is going to be uncovered by the DCF investigator anyway. It’s always better that your attorney is the first to know something instead of being surprised by information that comes to light in a courtroom. Specifically, you always want to tell your attorney the truth about:

  • Why DCF is investigating you for child abuse or neglect;
  • Whether you’ve been investigated by Connecticut DCF or any other state in the past;
  • Whether you have a history of domestic violence, criminal charges of any kind, drug use, or excessive alcohol use; and
  • Where your child’s other parent is and how they can be contacted.

If you can think of anything that might be important to your case, even if your attorney hasn’t asked about it, tell them!

How Your DCF Attorney Can Help Your Case

Your DCF defense attorney will meet with you and learn about the facts of your situation. If necessary, they can hire an investigator to interview witnesses and build your defense. Your attorney will represent your interests in meetings and hearings with DCF investigators and applicable courts. Your trusted counsel will guide your matter until your case with DCF has been resolved.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney

Navigating a Connecticut DCF investigation can be stressful and confusing. One wrong move can lead to prolonged DCF involvement in the lives of you and your children. If DCF contacts you, it’s important that you seek qualified counsel immediately.

The Christie Law Firm specializes in protecting the rights of parents who are facing DCF allegations. Attorney Christie has extensive experience helping clients navigate this process and will speak to you about the best way to respond to an investigator’s demands and questions. Please call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to learn more about our services.


Special Education Issues with DCF Cases

Suspicions of child abuse or neglect are taken seriously in Connecticut. Like most states, Connecticut has a mandated reporter statute, which requires certain professionals to notify the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) of suspected abuse or neglect cases. This often triggers an investigation by the agency. But there can be massive complications when there are special education issues involved.

What is the Mandated Reporter Statute in Connecticut?

According to Connecticut Statutes Section 17a-101, certain professionals are required to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the appropriate agency (DCF). The purpose of this law is to “protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through injury and neglect; to strengthen the family and to make the home safe for children by enhancing the parental capacity for good child care; to provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary…”

The statute provides a long list of mandated reporters. Among them are physicians, nurses, social workers, paid childcare workers, and school employees, just to name a few. If any of these professionals have a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, they are required to file a verbal report with DCF within 12 hours and a written report within 48 hours.

How Special Education Issues Can Complicate DCF Cases

While investigations by government agencies are supposed to be fair, recent studies show they can be incredibly biased and unfair, particularly when there are special education issues involved. A recent series written by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit organization, revealed many schools nationwide have misused their DCF reporting authority when children in the school make learning challenging or when parents don’t agree to special education services for their children.

Children with learning challenges like ADHD or mood disorders may act out in the classroom. When the school wants one thing for the child, and the parents want something different, this can put the two parties at odds. Unfortunately, schools have the power to contact the state’s child welfare hotline to ask for an investigation.

Sometimes those calls from schools are malicious. But other instances are due to legitimate concerns about overlooking at-risk children. Some schools are simply overzealous in calling in allegations over minor issues like unexplained scratches, stained clothing, or missing shoelaces.

Bias can also play a role in whether families are referred to DCF. In many investigations, minority families are disproportionately chosen for mandatory reporting calls. Nationally, black children are about twice as likely as white children to enter foster care. Low-income families become targets as well because poverty can be easily confused with neglect.

One of the primary issues with DCF involvement is that it has historically been antagonistic. Instead of taking a supportive role with parents and their children, they become adversaries.

What Happens After a Report to DCF is Made?

Once DCF receives one of these mandatory reporter notifications, they must investigate the allegations. This usually triggers a home visit by a DCF investigator, which can be intimidating and have far-reaching consequences.

A DCF investigator will usually show up at your home unannounced and ask to interview you and your child. Many parents don’t realize that you don’t have to submit to these interviews without a lawyer present. You have the right to ask the investigator to come back another time after you have the opportunity to consult with an attorney.

If DCF finds the allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated, they may recommend that your child be removed from the home. At this point, you will have to fight to be reunited with your child, which can be an exhausting and stressful battle.

Your relationship with the mandatory reporter, which might be the school, is also an ongoing question. Having a teacher or school accusing a parent of abuse or neglect can be damaging, which is something you’ll want to address moving forward.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney Today

A school’s reporting of abuse or neglect is a serious matter. When you have a disagreement or misunderstanding about special education services, this only complicates the issue. While you have rights, DCF isn’t going to tell you what they are, which puts your child and your bond with them at risk.

The Christie Law Firm, LLC specializes in fighting for the rights of clients who are facing DCF investigations. Attorney Christies has years of experience dealing with this system and will do everything possible to prevent having your child removed from your home. Please call (860) 471-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.


DCF Investigations of a School

The term “abuse” in a school setting has been traditionally associated with sexual misconduct. But
abuse can take several different forms. Child abuse can be categorized as sexual abuse, physical
abuse, and child neglect. When these happen at a school, the Connecticut Department of Children
and Families (DCF) may become involved.

DCF investigations of a school aren’t nearly as common as those directly involving parents. But any
abuse investigations are something you want to take seriously, whether you are an administrator, an
accused educator, or the parent of a child who has been abused.

What is Institutional Abuse and Neglect?

Institutional abuse and neglect take place outside the home in private settings or in the community.
This type of abuse or neglect is also known as “extra-familial or “out-of-home” abuse or neglect. It
typically involves a child and an adult in a supervisory role, like a teacher, volunteer, or caregiver.
Unfortunately, studies show that abused and neglected children are at higher risk for lower academic
achievement. Children who endure these issues are much more likely to drop out of school early and
suffer negative economic and psychosocial consequences.

The Role of DCF in Connecticut and Its Schools

The Connecticut DCF works together with families and communities “to improve child safety, ensure
that more children have permanent families, and advance the overall well-being of children.” DCF’s
primary role is to protect children who are being abused or neglected through various initiatives.
Many contacts with DCF take place in the child’s home. But some of them take place outside the
home, such as in schools. This makes sense because it is where children spend the majority of their
time outside the home. While they are supposed to be in the care of trained, trusted, and caring
adults, this doesn’t always happen.

In 2011, the state of Connecticut passed a new law (Public Act 11-93), which imposes new
requirements intended to protect children from abuse by school employees. This law was in
response to a report issued in 2010 from the Attorney General and the Office of the Child Advocate.
The report, titled “Protecting Our Children: Improving Protections for Children When Allegations Are
Made that School System Personnel Abuse or Neglect Children,” was issued after a lengthy

The new law was meant to address weaknesses in a system that is intended to protect children from
abuse and neglect. According to the investigation results, the State Department of Education
previously had the authority to check the DCF registry before issuing teacher and administrator
licenses. But the department and many schools weren’t checking the registry.

The new law requires that this check take place. It also requires that both schools and the
Department of Education keep track of allegations of abuse or neglect against teachers or
administrators. In the past, school districts didn’t always cooperate with DCF investigations. This law
makes full cooperation a requirement and outlines mandated reporting situations.

When DCF Investigates a School in Connecticut

In early 2020, the Connecticut DCF created two new units dedicated to the investigation of DCF
reports concerning school employees in their professional capacity with students. These special
units consist of ten social workers in total, who are in charge of investigating allegations against
school employees with a mandate to complete investigations in 33 business days.
Under this relatively new program, DCF will communicate the results of any investigations it
undertakes with the Superintendent of the particular school district and the State Department of

As a teacher or school administrator, it’s important to take any contact from DCF seriously, whether
you’ve done something wrong or not. All too often, it’s easy to think that DCF won’t find anything in
their investigation. Maybe if you just explain what happened, they will understand and close their

Unfortunately, this rarely happens. It’s part of a DCF investigator’s job to make the subject of an
investigation feel comfortable, so they disclose information and potentially admit wrongdoing. If DCF
does decide to enter supported findings of abuse or neglect against you or the school, this can be a
precursor to civil and criminal troubles in your future.

To avoid long-term involvement with DCF, it’s essential to safeguard and exercise your rights. A
seasoned DCF attorney can guide you through this process.

Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney

A DCF investigation of your school is serious. But an allegation is not proof of wrongdoing. If you or
your school have been notified of a DCF investigation, protecting your rights is vital.

Attorney Christie with The Christie Law Firm has extensive experience handling Connecticut DCF
cases. She was recently a prosecutor in the Tolland Judicial District and has successfully negotiated
over 1,000 cases for clients. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more
about your options.

Under What Circumstances Can My Parental Rights Be Terminated?

When the Connecticut court orders the termination of parental rights, the legal relationship between you and your child ceases to exist. As you can imagine, this is a serious event that has lifelong consequences. 

In nearly every case, it’s not possible to reinstate parental rights once they’ve been terminated. This isn’t the same as changing child custody or the reunification process, which involves reuniting you and your children after they’ve been removed from the home temporarily. 

Because the termination of parental rights is so serious and final, it’s essential that parents understand why this option might be pursued and the ways they can protect their and their children’s rights when a petition is filed. 

What is the Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut?

When parental rights are terminated, the parent-child relationship legally comes to an end. When this happens, the child is legally able to be placed for adoption. A parent can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, provided the state agrees their rights and responsibilities should be terminated. This is never a good idea and something you should discuss with a qualified attorney. 

Most parental rights are terminated involuntarily, meaning another party files a petition with the court and has to prove their case. In Connecticut, the only parties who can petition for the termination of parental rights are:

  • Either parent
  • The child’s guardian
  • A childcare or child-placing or similar DCF-approved agency official
  • The selectman of a town with a foundling child
  • A relative of a child whose parent has deserted them

If the child is over the age of 12, they must also be named as a Petitioner. 

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut

For the court to grant a petition terminating parental rights, the Petitioner must be able to prove two things. First, they must demonstrate that the termination will be in the child’s best interests. Second, they must show that one of the following grounds for termination exists:

  • The child has been abandoned by the parent. 
  • There is no ongoing parent-child relationship, and it would be detrimental to the best interests of the child to allow additional time for the establishment or reestablishment of such a bond. 
  • The minor has been refused by acts of parental omission or commission, the guidance, control, or care necessary for their physical, emotional, moral, or educational well-being.
  • In a prior proceeding, the Probate or Superior Court has found that the child has been abused, neglected, or uncared for. 
  • Another child of the parent under the age of seven has been found to be abused, neglected, or uncared for and the parent’s rights were terminated with respect for that child. 
  • The parent was found to have committed sexual assault, which resulted in the conception of the minor. 
  • The parent deliberately killed or conspired to kill another of their children or was found to have intentionally assaulted another of their children, resulting in serious bodily injury. 
  • The parent has failed to rehabilitate themselves after having been found guilty of neglect or failure to care for the child or who failed to take specific steps to facilitate the return of a child who has been in DCF custody for at least 15 months. 

Contesting a Petition for Parental Termination in Connecticut

If someone tries to terminate your parental rights, you can and should contest their efforts. You have the right to mount a defense at the 30-day hearing. Most judges want to keep families united whenever possible. The court will take the following items into consideration when making its determination. 

  • The child’s age.
  • The nature, extent, and timeliness of services offered to the parent(s) by the agency to facilitate reunification efforts.
  • Whether DCF made reasonable efforts at reunification pursuant to child welfare and federal adoption law.
  • Any terms relative to existing court orders involving an agency and the parent(s) and the extent to which the parties have satisfied their requirements under the order.
  • The emotional ties and feelings the child has to their parent(s) or any other person who has had custody, care, and control of the child.
  • The extent to which the parent has been barred from maintaining a meaningful relationship with their child. And…
  • The parents attempt to maintain contact with the child and adjust to the current situation. 

These are complex legal proceedings that should not be entered into without the assistance and guidance of a seasoned attorney. 

Speak With An Experienced Attorney About Defending Your Parental Rights

If your parental rights are in jeopardy, there is no time to waste. After a petition is filed, there are just days to submit an answer and prepare for the mandatory hearing. While the Petitioner must prove their case, your complacency can serve as part of their body of evidence. 

At The Christie Law Firm, our experienced DCF attorney is dedicated to keeping families together and protecting the rights of parents and their children. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation so that we can go over your options. 

What is My Attorney’s Role in the Reunification Process? 

In Connecticut, similar to other states, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a state agency that was created to oversee services and programs involving child abuse and neglect, child welfare, foster care, and a long list of other issues. DCF is authorized to remove children from any situation in which they believe there is a danger to the child’s welfare, even if there is only a suspicion that something is wrong.

If you are a parent and your child has been removed from your home by DCF, it’s important that you understand that the law may not necessarily be on your side. At the same time, you have certain rights and a qualified attorney can place you in the best possible position during the reunification process.

How DCF Uses the Law to Its Advantage

Unfortunately, you don’t have to violate any laws for DCF to remove your children from your home. But the agency will sure make you feel as if you did.

And case managers don’t care what is in your best interests as a parent. They have the authority to do just about anything without your consent. They might even claim that you have to submit to things like a psychological evaluation or random drug screenings when a court has said no such thing.

Connecticut law grants parents involved in dependency actions the right to quick hearing dates and the right to defend their interests. Too many parents believe that a DCF investigation means they will lose their children for good. But, this isn’t the case at all. With the right plan and strong representation, you can get your children back through the reunification process.

What is the Reunification Process?

When your children have been temporarily placed in another’s care because of a DCF action, the goal is to bring get them back into the home. Called reunification, this is the legal process of getting the family safely back together, provided the courts see it as being in the child’s best interests.

Being involved with a DCF case like this can be incredibly stressful. You are sure to want your children back in the home from the minute they leave. But it may take some time and patience for this to happen. For the best chance of success, a seasoned DCF attorney can help pave the way for reunification as quickly and smoothly as possible.

What is My Attorney’s Role in the Reunification Process?

Connecticut DCF cases involve serious allegations of abuse and neglect. While the removal of your children from the home will be considered temporary, the agency can ask for the permanent termination of your parental rights, which is not something you can have reversed at a later date.

When DCF becomes involved in your life, your first instinct should be to protect your and your child’s rights in the best possible way. The earlier a DCF defense attorney can act on your behalf in an investigation, the more effective they can be in helping you keep or get back your children.

Your attorney will play some vital roles in the reunification process, making them an invaluable part of your overall legal strategy.

Compassionate Counselor 

Living without your children can be tough. You need an attorney who understands what you’re going through and who will give your case the care and attention it deserves. When you’re worried about an upcoming hearing or meeting with DCF or the court, your attorney can and should respond to your inquiries quickly and appropriately.

Fierce Advocate

Your attorney can be the strong voice that you may not have during these challenging times. You aren’t expected to know about Connecticut’s laws. But your lawyer certainly does. They will aggressively assert your rights throughout the reunification process so that you can avoid any unnecessary delays or expense and help you bring your children back home where they belong.

Voice of Reason

Finally, your attorney will be the voice of reason during what is sure to be an emotional process. They will represent your interests during hearings and make sure you understand what to expect when DCF conducts its final home interview before reunification. Your attorney will guide your words and actions so that you have the best chance for a positive case outcome.

Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF Attorney

If you have any questions about your Connecticut DCF matter or need help with the reunification process, we encourage you to contact The Christie Law Firm. At your initial consultation, we will ask you to outline your interactions with DCF and create a legal plan to help you accomplish your objectives. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online today.

Types of Guardianships

When an adult is unable to care for themselves or a child’s parents are unable to care for the child, guardianship may be necessary to provide that guidance. But there are several different types of guardianship that might be used. Here is what you need know, and some particular information about guardianships as they apply to DCF cases.

What Is Legal Guardianship?

Guardianship refers to another party being granted the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of a certain person, such as a child or parent. The “guardian” is the person the court appoints to make decisions on behalf of someone else. The “protected person” is the person over whom the guardianship has been granted by the courts.

The Purpose of Guardianship

Adults have the legal right to make their own decisions, and parents normally have the legal right to make decisions for their children. When this isn’t possible for various reasons, another party may need to step in to make these choices.

A guardianship may be needed over an adult if that person becomes incapacitated, meaning they are no longer able to care for themselves due to disease, mental illness, or mental incapacity. A guardianship may be needed over a child if the responsible parent isn’t available to make choices due to death, incapacity, or some other issue.

The Different Types of Guardianships

If you believe a person needs someone else to oversee their care, you and your attorney will need to decide which type of guardianship is appropriate. In Connecticut, there are several different types of guardianships possible:

Parents as Guardians

There is a legal presumption that both parents are to act as guardians of a minor child unless the courts state otherwise.

Temporary Guardians

A temporary guardian can be appointed by the court for no longer than a period of one year if a parent is unable to care for a child for any reason.

Permanent Guardians

If the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child, it can appoint a permanent guardian, which cannot be revoked,

Standby Guardians

A parent or guardian can designate a standby guardian of a minor to act in the event that the parent or primary guardian is unable to perform due to any specified contingencies.


If a minor doesn’t have a parent or guardian, an interested party, such as a relative, can ask the court to appoint co-guardians.

Guardian of the Estate

A guardian of the estate of a minor will control the property and assets of a minor. This is different than guardianship of a person.

How Guardianships Are Used in Connecticut DCF Cases

If you are the subject of an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), there’s a chance that guardianship might become part of the equation. Once DCF receives notice of reported abuse or neglect, they are obligated to begin an investigation quickly.

A DCF agent will likely come to your home, request to interview your child, and even contact other interested parties such as teachers or your child’s other parent. If DCF feels that your child is in immediate danger, they can remove them from the home temporarily. DCF also has the right to petition the court for guardianship, meaning you will no longer be able to make decisions for your child.

In Connecticut DCF cases, there are three types of guardianships:

  • Straight transfer of guardianship— Guardianship is transferred to a designated party without any additional follow-up by DCF or the courts after the ruling.
  • Subsidized guardianship— The named guardian is a licensed foster care provider who receives a state subsidy to help with the child’s care.
  • Permanent guardianship— The guardian is awarded this status permanently, which generally coincides with the termination of parental rights.

As you can see, no guardianship is ideal. But you want to avoid permanent guardianship for your child. As soon as you know that DCF will be involved in your life, it’s in your best interests to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF and Guardianship Attorney

If you live in Connecticut and the court has ordered guardianship for your child because of a DCF investigation, it’s important that you speak with a qualified DCF lawyer as soon as possible. While this type of guardianship is meant to be temporary, DCF has the right to ask the court to terminate your parental rights if they feel there is justification.

Even though a guardian has been assigned and your child isn’t living in your home, you still retain parental rights. At this point, you should be working diligently towards reunification, which is something The Christie Law Firm can help facilitate. We specialize in handling these types of DCF cases and encourage you to reach out to us to find out how we can help. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.

What Do I Have to Do to Get My Kids Back?

Having your children removed from your home is a heart-wrenching experience for any parent. It’s tough to believe that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Connecticut court have decided that your children would be better off with someone else, whether it be with a relative or in the foster care system.

Many of our law firm’s DCF dependency clients understandably want to know, “what do I have to do to get my kids back?” What makes the situation even more intolerable is that a single petition filed by DCF usually creates this injustice. Understandably, this feels like serving a jail sentence without a conviction.

What Happens Before Foster Care?

DCF cases can move quickly, which is why you should be prepared and have an experienced DCF attorney who can advocate for your interests. If your children have been removed from your home based on an emergency order, your attorney can represent you at the hearing requesting temporary custody.

There will be an evidentiary hearing where DCF must present evidence substantiating its removal of the child from your home due to abuse or neglect. You also have the opportunity to refute any evidence at that hearing.

If you don’t get your children back at this stage, they will be placed in the custody and care of DCF, which will likely place the children in foster care if you fail to win any appeals. During this time, you will remain the child’s legal guardian and maintain parental rights.

Foster Care is Not Forever

If DCF receives an order for temporary custody due to a child safety issue, your children were likely placed in another’s temporary custody. This might be with a family member or in foster care. When this happens, it can be incredibly stressful for all involved.

But foster care isn’t forever. Children do return to their families with great regularity. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that three in five children in foster care return home to their parents or other family members.

But that doesn’t mean that DCF will just hand your child back to you when you ask or make a demand. You’ll need to participate in the reunification process. If you don’t ask for reunification or fail to adhere to DCF’s requirements, the agency could seek termination of your parental rights, which is something that isn’t reversible.

What is the Reunification Process?

One of DCF’s goals is to “reunify families,” and this is accomplished through intensive assessment and case management. In short, DCF is going to tell you what they see as the problem in your home and give you an outline of the steps to fix it.

When DCF initiates an investigation, they will often ask a parent to sign a Safety Plan, also called a Service Agreement. While you should never sign anything without first speaking with an attorney, this type of contract will tell you a lot about what needs to happen for reunification.

Evaluate What Went Wrong

DCF and the courts have an obligation to act in the best interests of the child. If you want to get your children back, it’s vital that you first understand what went wrong. For example, if your children were removed from the home because it is considered an unsafe environment, what issues lead up to that and how can you avoid similar problems in the future?

Understand the Contingencies

What conditions have been placed on you as part of a parenting plan or court order? If DCF has required that you attend counseling sessions or go to substance abuse treatment, make sure you do so. Ignoring these contingencies will ensure you don’t get your children back anytime soon.

Be Patient and Compliant

While you’re waiting for your DCF and child custody case to be re-evaluated, make sure you demonstrate that you are a caring and fit parent. Exercise your right to full parenting time and visitation with your children.

Make sure that you avoid conflicts and anything that might aggravate the situation. And be as prepared as possible for the follow-up interview with DCF as part of the reunification process.

Call an Experienced Connecticut DCF Family Advocate Attorney

Few things are worse than having a child removed from the home by DCF due to allegations of abuse or neglect. If this is your situation, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney. At The Christie Law Firm, our Connecticut DCF attorney has extensive experience advocating for the rights of families and their children in child removal cases.

Our attorney understands your sense of urgency will provide you with the aggressive legal support you need during this difficult time. To learn more about the process of getting your kids back after DCF removal, call us today at 860-461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment.

What is DCF’s Role in Reunification?

When a child has been removed from the home by the courts following an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), that child is generally placed in a temporary custody situation, either in foster care or in the care of a relative. The preferred next step would be to reunify the child with their parent as safely and quickly as possible.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about three in five children in foster care return home to their parents. This is an encouraging statistic for any parent who is currently facing this situation. But there is some work involved to bring children back home. Some of that work is done by DCF.

Granting Guardianship in Connecticut

When the court finds that there is sufficient cause, such as neglect or abuse, it will appoint another party as your child’s legal guardian. That guardian, whether it be another relative or a foster parent, has the power to make legal decisions on behalf of your child and to act in their best interests.

But guardianship does not legally terminate your parental rights. You are still the child’s legal parent, so they cannot be placed up for adoption. If your child has been placed with a guardian in Connecticut, you have the opportunity to get reinstated as your child’s guardian through the reunification process.

The Connecticut Reunification Process

The ideal outcome for most children placed in the foster care system is reunification. The aim of DCF agents who facilitate these cases is two-fold: to achieve the reunification of parents and children as efficiently as possible and to help ensure that the children do not re-enter the foster care system in the future.

If you believe that you are ready to start the reunification process, make sure you discuss your wishes with your attorney. Provided you’ve fulfilled the court’s requirements, your attorney can file a Motion for Reinstatement, which will start the process and get DCF involved once again.

DCF’s Role in the Reunification Process

In Connecticut, the courts oversee the reunification process, and will a final determination regarding whether a child can return to a parent’s care and custody or should be placed elsewhere. The day-to-day management of the case and the in-home investigation is handled by DCF.

When your attorney files a Motion for Reinstatement with the court, there may be several court appearances necessary. The court will ask DCF to complete an investigation before it makes a final ruling.

The DCF caseworker is going to review your entire case file from start to finish to get a full understanding of your circumstances. They will also interview all the parties involved in your case, such as your children, the other parent, and the current guardian.

As a final step, the DCF caseworker will schedule a final in-home interview with you before they create their report and make a recommendation about reunification. At the in-home interview, the caseworker will ask you questions that are relevant to your case and the care of your children. For example, if you have a substance abuse issue, where did you get treatment, and what things are you doing to maintain your sobriety? Finally, the caseworker is going to look around your home to ensure that it is safe, suitable, and ready to have your children living there.

Dealing with DCF again might seem intimidating again after such an ordeal. But i’s important to approach this process as prepared as possible. You don’t have to meet the DCF agent alone, and your attorney can help you throughout this process, which is something our office strongly recommends.

Speak with a Trusted Connecticut DCF Attorney

If your children have been placed in temporary custody by the Connecticut courts, you are understandably concerned and under a great deal of stress. The situation is not meant to be permanent, but the court does have the power to terminate your parental rights, so how you approach reunification is critical to your and your children’s future.

At The Christie Law Firm, we specialize in helping parents and children who are dealing with DCF investigations. Attorney Christie has over a decade of experience working as a DCF social worker, so has an intimate understanding of the process. When you partner with our reunification attorneys, we will aggressively assert your rights and provide you with the guidance you need to successfully complete the process.

Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.