The Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Connecticut exists to keep children and youth in the community safe, which often involves investigations of abuse and neglect in the home. If your minor child has been removed from your home by DCF through the juvenile court system and a child protection case, guardianship has probably been granted to another party. If you seek to be reinstated as your child’s guardian, here is what you need to know about getting ready for the reinstatement interview with DCF.
Granting Guardianship in Connecticut
When the court decides that parents can no longer care for their children, either permanently or temporarily, relatives or other interested parties can be appointed as the children’s legal guardian. When this happens, the guardian has the power to make legal decisions on behalf of the child and has a duty to act in their best interests.
Guardianship is not the same as Termination of Parental Rights, which would make the child eligible for adoption or emancipation. If your children have been placed with a guardian, it may be possible to remedy the situation after you successfully complete a reinstatement interview.
Being Reinstated as Your Child’s Legal Guardian
To be reinstated as your child’s legal guardian, you will need to petition the court and go through a process. If there are any contingencies (conditions) in place, you must first satisfy those. Examples include the completion of drug or alcohol treatment or a requirement to seek counseling. You must also file a notice of your petition on the guardian and your child’s other parent.
Part of the reinstatement process involves an evaluation by DCF to ensure you are once again fit to provide for the physical, emotional, moral, and educational needs of your children. This will include an interview and an in-home visit by DCF.
How to Prepare for Your Reinstatement Interview With DCF
If you are asking for reinstatement of your parental rights, there’s a good chance you are already familiar with DCF and may have already gone through one or more DCF interviews. When dealing with DCF, preparation is critical.
Before your interview, the DCF agent will conduct a thorough review of the case records so that they are familiar with your circumstances and the reasons why guardianship was transferred to another party. DCF will re-interview all the parties involved in the case, including the child, the guardian, the other parent, and any other interested parties.
Your interview with DCF is a vital part of this process. First, expect this interview to take place in your home. Make sure that your home is 100% ready to show a caseworker that you are prepared to bring your child back into your home. Your home should be clean and orderly. You should also have your child’s bedroom set up as if they are coming home that very day.
There will likely be a series of questions from the caseworker that are going to vary depending on the circumstances of your case and guardianship. For example, if you were accused of not sending your children to school and did not have access to transportation, how has this changed? What evidence can you present showing that you now have reliable transportation? Do you have a backup plan in place?
Remain calm and cooperative as you answer the evaluator’s questions. And be honest with your answers.
Be prepared to answer some questions related to any requirements by DCF, such as counseling or drug treatment. Have records ready that pertain to your case and your child’s schooling and medical history. Finally, be prepared with a list of questions for the evaluator and take notes to show that you are invested in the process.
The entire process could take several months to complete, so this is not something to take lightly. Another important consideration is that you don’t have to meet with a DCF agent alone and neither does your child. You have the right to qualified counsel during a DCF interview, and this is something our office strongly recommends.
Speak with an Experienced Connecticut DCF Lawyer
When the juvenile courts in Connecticut become involved in the custody of your child, we understand that there is a lot at stake. Whether you are looking to avoid a guardianship situation or want to be reinstated as your child’s legal guardian, we can help. The Christie Law Firm, LLC specializes in advocating for the interests of parents and their children in Connecticut DCF cases. Call our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.