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. 

Should You Sign Releases for DCF?

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a government agency that is responsible for protecting children who are suspected of being abused or neglected. If DCF is investigating you for child abuse or neglect, they may ask you to sign releases so that they can access your medical records, your child’s school records, and other personal information.

Do you have to sign the releases?

It is not necessary for you to sign the releases. DCF will only have permission to access your personal information with your consent. However, it is important to keep in mind that not signing the releases may make the investigation process a little difficult for DCF.

What are the risks of signing the releases?

It is important to note that there are a few risks to consider before signing the releases.

  1. The information obtained by DCF may be used against you in a court case
  2. The information obtained may be released to others without your consent.
  3. The information obtained may be used for other purposes other than a DCF investigation such as marketing or research.

What are the benefits of signing the releases?

There are also some benefits to signing the releases.

  1. It will help DCF conclude their investigation faster.
  2. It may allow DCF to access information that will be helpful to the allegations against you.
  3. It may help DCF to make a more informed decision about your case.

What should you do if you are asked to sign releases?

If you are asked to sign releases, you should carefully consider the risks and benefits before making a decision. You should also talk to an attorney to get their advice. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and they can represent you in any legal proceedings that may arise.

Here are some tips for talking to DCF about releases:

  • Ask the DCF worker why they need the releases.
  • Ask what information they will be accessing.
  • Ask how the information will be used.
  • Ask if you can limit the scope of the releases.
  • Ask if you can review the releases before signing them.
  • Talk to an attorney before signing any releases.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney

Signing releases for DCF is a decision that should not be taken lightly. There are both risks and benefits to consider, and you should talk to an attorney before making a decision.

At the Christie Law Firm, our experienced Connecticut DCF attorney is dedicated to keeping families together and safeguarding the rights of parents and their children. Please call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.

What is DCF Looking for on a Home Visit? What Should I Expect?

Over the past several years, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families has shifted its policy regarding home visits. In the past, just about every referral resulted in an unscheduled knock on the door.

Now, unannounced visits are largely reserved for cases in which DCF believes that a child may require immediate protection. For example, a report alleging that a child is being physically abused will result in an agent getting sent to the home quickly.

Other less serious cases, such as emotional or educational neglect, might wait for a scheduled visit. In those cases, DCF will call the family or send a letter to arrange for a meeting.

Whether the visit is unscheduled or not, it’s not something you want to take lightly. DCF investigations are serious and can escalate quickly. What starts out as a minor or basic inquiry can be converted to a full-scale investigation based on an agent’s suspicions, founded or not.

Here’s what you can expect from a DCF home visit and what you should do if a DCF investigator asks to enter your home.

What is DCF Looking for on a Home Visit?

Home visits are conducted by DCF on families that are either involved with DCF through an investigation or voluntary services. Some families might be subject to home visits if a parent has already signed a Safety Plan or is in the process of reunification with their child.

But what can you expect during one of these visits? Here are five things a DCF worker is usually looking for during a home visit.

1. The Environment

The first thing an investigator will look for inside your home is evidence that you have created a clean and liveable space for your children. It’s ok if your child’s room is a little messy. Do they have a bed, a place to eat meals, and somewhere to do schoolwork?

2. Basic Needs

DCF investigators want to ensure that your child’s basic needs are being met. This means ensuring you have enough food in your pantry and refrigerator, clean clothing for your kids, shelter, and access to transportation.

3. Any Hazards

Even if you have a clean and liveable space, there might be some hazards present that pose a danger to your children. The investigator will look for things that might pose a safety concern, such as exposed wires, pest control products, aggressive pets, and unsecured prescription drugs.

4. Illegal Activity

There should be no illegal substances in your home. Alcohol and firearms should be locked away and out of your children’s reach.

5. Your Parent-Child Bond

For the most part, DCF investigators want to see that your children are safe and you have a positive relationship with them. You may be asked about what a typical day for your family looks like and how you spend quality time with your children.

What to do If DCF Visits Your Home

You can’t prevent DCF from knocking on your door or requesting a meeting. But, if you do open your door and find an investigator standing there, here are some tips to help protect your rights.

1. Request a copy of the “Parents Right to Know” Brochure.

You can quickly establish with the DCF investigator that you understand you have many rights during this process. Requesting this information upfront can set the tone for a more fair interaction.

2. Don’t Provide Any Statements to DCF.

When you believe you are completely innocent of any allegations, it’s easy enough to think you can clear everything up if you just explain what happened. This never turns out the way parents hope. You don’t have to make any statements to DCF without an attorney present. We recommend you resist the urge to speak to provide a statement.

3. Don’t Sign Anything.

Avoid signing anything put in front of you by a DCF employee. This includes Authorizationis, Service Agreements, Releases of Information, and Safety Plans.

4. Don’t Allow DCF to Interview Your Child.

The DCF investigator will tell you they need to speak with your child. They only have the right to do this under very limited circumstances.

5. Speak with a Qualified Attorney.

If the investigator shows up at your door unannounced, ask for their business card and let them know you will get back to them after you speak with a lawyer. Then contact a knowledgeable DCF attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation and figure out your options.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney

Even when you are sure you’ve done nothing wrong, DCF investigations are something you need to take seriously. If the agency files a petition, you have only days to submit an answer and prepare for a mandatory hearing.

At the Christie Law Firm, our experienced Connecticut DCF attorney is dedicated to keeping families together and safeguarding the rights of parents and their children. Please call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.


What Happens When DCF Interviews Your Child?

Investigations of parents and caretakers by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) for allegations of child abuse or neglect are serious matters that can have significant consequences for families. Too many parents react to a notice of a DCF investigation by downplaying the seriousness of the situation in the hopes that the investigator will quickly close their case as soon as they get “the real story.”

This often leads to unfortunate complications, particularly when DCF agents are permitted access to information they may not be entitled. While you want to cooperate to an extent, you have certain rights when DCF knocks on your door. It’s important to exercise those rights, especially when a DCF investigator asks to interview your child without a parent present.

Understand How DCF Investigations Work

One important thing to know about DCF investigations is that things can get moving rather quickly. If the agency receives a report of imminent harm to a child, it will respond within two hours. For a report of possible abuse or neglect, the agency responds within 72 hours.

If the agency believes that abuse or neglect may be a serious issue, they will come directly to your home without notice. This is the beginning of a possible investigation that could last up to 45 days. At the conclusion of this period, the agency will either substantiate or unsubstantiate the allegations. If the results are substantiated, the case will move to juvenile court, and you will have the opportunity to appeal. DCF can also file a petition to remove your child from the home until the case is resolved.

Can DCF Interview My Child?

When DCF opens its investigation, one of the things the agency is likely to request is an interview with your child. A common question from parents is, “can DCF interview my child?” That depends.

According to C.G.S. 17a-101h, DCF can only interview a child with a parent’s consent. However, there is an exception. Parental consent is not required if DCF has reason to believe that the parent or guardian is the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.

It’s important to note that the exception only applies to cases of alleged abuse, not neglect. But DCF investigators might try to tell you that their “policy” is to conduct non-consensual interviews in all suspected cases of abuse AND neglect. This isn’t what the law permits them to do.

If you have been accused of neglect, DCF requires your consent to interview your child. Even if you’ve been accused of abuse, you can tell DCF that they may not interview your child without an attorney present to protect their rights. One thing you may wish to do is send a letter to your child’s school or daycare, letting them know that no one is to interview your child without your knowledge and an attorney present.

What Happens When DCF Interviews My Child?

CPS will likely ask to conduct an interview unless your child is too young to communicate or is unable to express themselves. Interviews can take place in your home, at your child’s school or daycare, or at a DCF office. The main subject areas that are focused on during a child interview include:

  • What happened during the alleged incident(s) of abuse or neglect?
  • Does the child feel safe in the home?
  • Is the child fearful that future incidents of abuse or neglect will occur?
  • Are there any physical signs of abuse or neglect? If so, this may prompt a medical referral.

Aside from asking your child to be truthful during the interview, it’s not appropriate to “coach” your child prior to a DCF interview. Never ask your child to lie to DCF investigators. These agents are trained to look for tell-tale signs of coaching, and this won’t work in your favor.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Investigations Attorney Today

If you’ve been accused of child abuse or neglect in Connecticut, this is something you want to take seriously. You may be tempted to try to explain your side of the story to the investigator or allow your child to speak with them, but this may not be the best approach. When DCF contacts you, it’s important that you remain calm and seek legal counsel immediately.

At The Christie Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing the rights of parents and their children in DCF cases. Our DCF investigations attorney will provide compassionate and skilled representation throughout your DCF matter. To learn more about your options, please call (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.


How Can an Attorney Help Before and During My Substantiation Hearing?

If the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) has made a finding of substantiation against you, you have the right to appeal the finding through a substantiation hearing. To help you exercise this right and protect your best interests throughout the process, working with a skilled DCF family law attorney is strongly recommended. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, we have years of experience and can represent you before and during the hearing process. Call us today to learn more.

What Is a Substantiation Hearing?

A substantiation hearing is an appeal following a finding of substantiation. A finding of substantiation is a decision issued by the DCF indicating that allegations of abuse or neglect have been substantiated. When the DCF receives a report of suspected abuse or neglect, it is required to open an investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, it will issue a notice of its findings. If a finding of substantiation is issued, the party in question has 30 days from receipt of the notice to file an appeal.

During the substantiation hearing, a party can introduce new evidence and witnesses, as well as cross-examine witnesses. After the hearing is concluded, a notice of findings will be sent via mail. There is a process for further appealing the findings of the substantiation hearing if need be.

The Role of an Attorney During the Substantiation Hearing Process

If the DCF has issued a finding of substantiation and you want to appeal the process, it is strongly recommended that you exercise your right to legal counsel. The various ways in which an attorney will represent your interests and advocate for you include the following:

  1. File an appeal of a DCF substantiation decision. The first thing that your attorney will do is to help you understand your right to appeal and how the appeals process works. An appeal must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the notice of substantiation. An attorney will manage all of the filing documents on your behalf and ensure that you don’t miss the filing deadline.
  2. Question witnesses. As stated above, one of the rights of a person involved in a substantiation hearing is the right to question witnesses. Your attorney can prepare questions and manage the cross-examination process on your behalf. Questioning witnesses is one of the key elements of a substantiation hearing and is best managed by someone who is very experienced and understands how a hearing officer makes a decision.
  3. Review the evidence. The DCF will submit all of the evidence that it has against you. You have a right to review this evidence and prepare a response. What’s more, it’s important that you understand that the burden is on the DCF to prove a finding of neglect or abuse. Your attorney will review all of the DCF’s evidence and help you understand what it means for your case.
  4. Ensure that you do not breach the statute of limitations. If you breach the amount of time allocated under the law for filing an appeal (30 days), then your right to appeal is forfeited. One of the key roles of your attorney is to ensure that you do not breach the statute of limitations and that your right to appeal is protected.
  5. Understand the hearing officer’s decision. At the conclusion of the substantiation hearing, the hearing officer assigned to your case will issue a determination. Your attorney will explain the hearing officer’s decision to you and what it means for your case and your rights as a parent or guardian.
  6. Strategize your next steps. Finally, one of the most critical roles of an attorney is strategizing your next steps at each stage of the process, from when you first receive a substantiation letter to after the hearing officer’s notice of decision has been issued.

In addition to the above, your attorney will explain your legal rights and what the DCF can and cannot do throughout the process. Your attorney will also explain to you your options and what you may be able to do to improve the outcome of your case.

Is Working with an Attorney During a Substantiation Hearing Required?

There is no requirement to work with an attorney during a substantiation hearing; however, doing so is strongly recommended and may have a positive impact on the outcome of your case.

Call The Christie Law Firm, LLC Today

At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, we understand the stress and fear following the receipt of a DCF notice of the finding of substantiation. To learn more about how our law firm can help and the experience of our DCF family law attorney, call us directly at (860) 461-7494, send us a message online, or visit our Hartford office in person.

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.

What is Subsidized Guardianship?

When a parent is unable to care for their children, guardianship may be necessary to deliver that care and guidance. Guardianship refers to another party being granted the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else, such as a child. The court appoints the “guardian” as the decision-maker for the “protected person,” who may be a child.

There are different types of guardianships under the law. One type that you might find used in Connecticut is called “subsidized guardianship.” Here is what that type of guardianship entails, some of its benefits, and who qualifies to be appointed.

When Guardianship Can Become Necessary with DCF Involvement

Parents have the legal right to make decisions for their children. That is until the court says they don’t. In some cases, an adult may not be able to make decisions for their child temporarily due to physical limitations, mental illness, substance abuse, or other serious issues.

When there is a question of parental capacity or abuse or neglect, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) may become involved. If you become the subject of a DCF investigation, the agency may recommend guardianship if they believe that your child is in danger in the home. Once a child is removed from the home, DCF may petition the court for guardianship, meaning someone else will be appointed to make decisions for your child.

What is Subsidized Guardianship?

Subsidized guardianship is a placement option for children placed in foster care. Eligible caregivers become the child’s legal guardian and are able to consent to their needs relative to healthcare, school activities, and basic scheduling. Under subsidized guardianship, the guardian receives payment from the state to help them meet the child’s needs.

Who Qualifies for Guardianship Subsidies?

According to Connecticut law, relative caregivers are permitted to apply for guardianship subsidy. To qualify, the child must be under the age of 18 and be living with a caregiver who has been licensed for at least six months. DCF must conduct a thorough assessment of the child’s situation and recommend guardianship with the relative in question.

State law also requires that subsidies be provided to relative caregivers who have been in certified or foster care for at least 18 months. But the agency can offer subsidies if the child has been in this situation for at least six months.

The Benefits of Subsidized Guardianship

While having someone get paid to care for your child might seem unfair, there are some benefits to subsidized guardianship. In many cases, a family member who would otherwise not be able to afford to take in your child will now be able to take on the responsibility, increasing the overall family permanence.

There’s a common misconception that subsidized guardianship undermines reunification efforts by parents. In fact, this isn’t the case. In Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Illinois, reunification rates were not significantly different in cases where subsidized guardianship was offered versus where it wasn’t.

Types of Subsidies Available to Guardians in Connecticut

Connecticut statutes provide for the payment of three different types of guardianship subsidies:

  • Monthly subsidy — The monthly subsidy is equal to the prevailing foster care rate established by DCF, which is applicable to the child’s special needs and age less the child’s income and assets.
  • Special needs subsidy — A special needs subsidy is a one-time payment of not more than $2,000 paid to the child’s guardian for expenses the guardian incurs for which there are no other resources, such as state, federal, or private sources to pay for expenses. Some examples of expenses permitted under this policy include legal fees from the guardianship case, out-of-state travel expenses to attend court hearings, and medical or psychological exams.
  • Medical subsidy — Children who may or may not have private health insurance could be eligible for state Medicaid benefits through a medical subsidy. The guardian will be responsible for reapplying for this benefit annually.

Contact an Experienced DCF Defense Attorney

If you live in Connecticut and the state has ordered guardianship of your child due to a DCF investigation, it’s important that you understand and protect your rights. While a subsidized guardianship might help keep your child with a close family member and assist with reunification, DCF has the right to petition the court to terminate your parental rights at any point if they feel there is justification.

It’s important to understand that a guardianship situation does not end your parental rights. Even if a guardian has been appointed, you should be working diligently toward reunification, which can be a complex and confusing process. We can help.

The Christie Law firm specializes in dealing with DCF cases throughout Connecticut. We understand how DCF operates and have extensive experience protecting parents and children who have become wrapped up in this system. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.

Adopting a Special Needs Child in Connecticut – Subsidized Adoptions

According to the National Adoption Center, there are over 130,000 children with “special needs” in this country awaiting permanent homes. In the context of child welfare, foster care, and adoption, “special needs” refers not only to children with disabilities but also to those whose risk factors for disability, race, ethnic, age, or other characteristics make them more challenging to place.

Adoption is a gift for both the child and their adoptive family. But, it is an extremely important decision that can create financial hardships, particularly if a child has special needs. In the state of Connecticut, a child may be eligible for a subsidy through the state if they qualify.

What is Connecticut’s Adoption Subsidy Program?

Children with special needs who are adopted may qualify for adoption assistance or subsidies. These are programs under the Federal Title IV-E (part of the Social Security Act) as well as from the state itself.

In Connecticut, the adoption assistance program is run entirely by the state, but 50% of it is funded by the Federal Title IV-E program. The State of Connecticut outlines the process for how families can qualify for and collect these subsidies.

Who is Eligible for a Subsidized Adoption in Connecticut?

Special needs children are not only more difficult to place in adoptive homes. The costs of caring for these children are also sometimes higher than with other children. Connecticut defines special needs children as those who meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Physical or mental disability
  • Severe emotional maladjustment
  • Over age eight
  • Age of two or over and having ethnic or racial factors presenting barriers to adoption
  • High risk of physical or mental disability
  • Part of a sibling group that should be placed together

If a child is being adopted from a private agency, parents should determine if there is eligibility for subsidies or assistance before the adoption is finalized.

What is the Amount of the Benefit?

Children with special needs who are adopted in Connecticut may qualify for subsidies, which are paid to adoptive families to help defray expenses related to the child’s need for ongoing treatment, therapy, or to cover one-time expenses.

In Connecticut, the current per diem (daily) adoption assistance rate is equal to 100% of the USDA’s estimate of the cost of raising a child. The rate varies based on the age of the child:

  • Ages 0-5:    $25.99 per diem
  • Ages 6-11:  $26.29 per diem
  • Ages 12-18 $28.52 per diem

A child diagnosed with a “medically complex” condition will receive assistance in line with the care and attention they require up to a maximum of $47.10 per diem. These children must meet specific requirements, and their cases are reviewed annually.

Any financial subsidy you receive for your child is not considered income for tax purposes. In the event this changes, please verify this information on the IRS website.

There are other nonrecurring benefits available as well. These include:

  • Up to $750 per child for expenses directly related to adoption
  • Up to one year of childcare expenses paid through Care4Kids

According to Connecticut law, regular financial subsidies end on the child’s 18th birthday. But, if a child was adopted after age 16, the financial subsidy can continue until age 21 as long as the child is enrolled and attending a post-secondary educational program on a full-time basis.

How to Apply for a Subsidized Adoption

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) administers Connecticut’s adoption subsidy program. The prospective adoptive family and the DCF social worker should negotiate the adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is finalized. The DCF Central Office will make a final determination about assistance.

Upon finalization of the adoption by the Probate Court, DCF will begin making monthly subsidy payments to the family. These checks are generally issued on the 15th of each month.

DCF will conduct an annual review of every case to confirm the continuing need for a subsidy. Adoptive parents will need to submit a sworn statement indicating that the special need continues to exist, and that the child remains a legal dependent. The Adoption Subsidy Review Board has the option to continue, reduce, or terminate payments, but major changes won’t be made without the benefit of a hearing.

Get Help from An Experienced Connecticut Adoption Attorney

Adoption is an emotional and complex process. It’s certainly not something you should approach without a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations under the law. As a trusted and knowledgeable adoption attorney, it is my honor to help bring families and children together using strong legal agreements. Contact our Hartford office today to learn more about how we can assist you with a special needs adoption in Connecticut. Our office number is (860) 461-7494.

What Does “Family with Service Needs” Mean?

Navigating family law matters, particularly those involving children and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) can be emotional, complex, and overwhelming. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, our experienced family matters attorney can help you to navigate your DCF case or another juvenile matter. As you learn more about DCF cases, it is important to understand the various terms that are often used in these case types. One term with which you should become familiar is “family with service needs.” Here is an overview of what “family with service needs,” or FWSN, means as well as some of the common actions that a court may take in an FWSN case.

What Is a Family with Service Needs?

 In 2007, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill called, “An Act Concerning Children and Youth in Juvenile Matters.” Within this legislation, the term “family with service needs” is found and defined. According to the text of the bill, a family with service needs means a family that includes a child (under 18 years of age) who:

  • Ran away from the parental home without just cause;
  • Has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct;
  • Is, for some reason, “beyond the control” of their parent or guardian (or another custodian);
  • Has missed an excessive amount of school and, in addition to that, has been overly defiant of school rules and regulations while in school; or
  • Is at least 13 years of age and has engaged in sexual intercourse with someone who is at least 13 years of age as well and is not more than two years older than the youth.

What Happens if My Family Is Identified As a Family with Service Needs?

 The legislation mentioned above was passed on the basic premise that if a family is identified as a family with service needs, then both the family and the child of the family should be involved in services offered by the CT Department of Children and Families. These services designed to help the child and deal with the child’s unhealthy and problematic behavior.

The youth behaviors listed above may be reported to the DCF by a police officer, the child themself, the child’s parent, guardian, or foster parent, any child-caring institution, a probation officer, a school superintendent, or a commissioner of the DCF. If the child’s behaviors do indeed meet the criteria for a child and their family to be identified as an FWSN, the court may take any of the following actions:

  • Issue a warning to the child;
  • Decide to refer the child for voluntary services with the local school district (when the “family with service needs” identification is solely the result of the child missing school) or with the Department of Children and Families;
  • Order the child to remain under the care of their parent or guardian and assign a probation officer to enforce the order;
  • Place the child in the care and custody of a Department of Children and Families commissioner for up to 1.5 years, for placement in foster care; or
  • Hold a temporary custody hearing and place the child in the temporary care of an appropriate person or agency until such a hearing.

Why You Need Representation from a Skilled Connecticut Attorney

 At the law office of The Christie Law Firm, we know how scary it can be for both parents and a child to be identified as a family with service needs. While the fact is that the law provides for the coordination of resources designed to help a child, the reality is that this could mean that DCF removes a child from your home or takes other serious adverse actions against your child or your family.

The important thing to remember is that you have rights during this process. After an FWSN petition is filed, there will be a hearing. You want an attorney representing your child and your family during that hearing. The outcome of a hearing can have a major impact on your child’s and your family’s future. Your attorney can explain to you the law and your rights, and advocate for your family’s best interests throughout the process. Your attorney can also explain what happens post-hearing and what happens if there is a violation of an FWSN order.

Call The Christie Law Firm, LLC Today

 At The Christie Law Firm, our experienced family with service needs attorney understands what you are going through and what you will be facing. As you navigate the complex system and laws related to the CT Department of Children and Families, our experienced Connecticut DCF lawyer will be by your side to answer your questions and provide legal advice and representation. To learn more about your rights, call our lawyer today at (860) 461-7494 or send us a message at your convenience.

The Clarity of 2020

In December 2019, I was excited about the year 2020. It was so cool, as 20/20 is a designation for perfect vision.  I knew it was going to a unique year and I wanted to be sure to make it a great one. I even made a joke that I will see clearly in 2020!  Who knew how solemn a truth that would be?

The year 2020 started well.  In January I was planful and had a lot of hope about what kind of year I was going to have.  Then came March 2020, and I did not see COVID coming or its impact.   I started out in denial by thinking, “why are they making such a big deal of this?” and “what do you mean, you can’t find toilet paper?!” Honestly, I figured it would be a couple of weeks and then back to life as usual.  Little did I know that a couple of weeks would turn into many months.

It is now January 2021, and one thing is for sure, life as usual, maybe gone for good.  At one point, I teased people who wore masks in public. Now, I am one of those people.  Get-togethers were on a screen. Holidays were spent over the phone versus in person.  How in the world are we going to get through this is the question?  This is where the 20/20 clarity started to come true.  I saw more clearly that what I needed to get through life were God and my loved ones.

The loss of life due to COVID is not just a number. People have lost parents, children, friends, extended family, co-workers, and the list goes on. Literally, COVID has taken the lives of so many in a short period of time.  I too lost friends in this season and much of it was painful.  I saw that the people I did have in my life were a blessing that I should not take for granted.  My faith in God and His plan for my life now had taken front and center stage for me.  Why – because it was the one thing I knew I could count on in an ever-changing world.

It takes faith to think it is worth getting and living each day not knowing exactly how the future plays out.  It takes faith to realize that the people in our lives now, would appreciate it because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It takes faith to believe God has a plan and that plan will be for our good.

The clarity of 2020 will not be wasted on me.  Life is truly too short not to appreciate every blessing that we have, especially the blessing of loved ones.  I am not sure what 2021 will look like but I am sure I look forward to seeing more of what life has taught me.