Because the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) wields so much power, it would be a mistake to underestimate them. If someone has made an allegation of child abuse or neglect, you’ve probably received a visit from a DCF caseworker or likely will soon. This is just the beginning of your interactions with the agency. How you approach things from this point forward could determine the outcome of your case.
When DCF Becomes a Part of Your Life
Many DCF cases begin with pure intentions. Someone has likely tipped off the agency that a child is being mistreated or neglected. That may or may not be accurate, but DCF caseworkers are bound by law to investigate a report.
Unfortunately, some DCF cases go much further than they should. The agency has 45 days to complete its investigation. During that period, a caseworker might ask you to sign a Safety Plan and/or agree to jump through some hoops.
But your relationship with DCF isn’t likely to end once the investigation is complete. The agency can continue to make home visits for as long as they decide it is necessary.
Common Mistakes Parents Make When Dealing With DCF
There’s nothing like the rush of panic a parent feels when they open the door and find someone from DCF standing on their doorstep. It’s confusing and embarrassing. Of course, the first instinct is to get defensive because you know you love your children and are a good parent. But, if you don’t take a few deep breaths, you’re like to make some costly mistakes.
- Not Taking DCF Seriously
Unfortunately, anyone can make an anonymous report to the Connecticut DCF about suspected abuse or neglect. Some reports are legitimate, but many are not. And, now more than ever, low-income families have become the target of these investigations as people confuse poverty with neglect.
Too many innocent situations can trigger an investigation. But they are all equally serious. Any DCF investigation has the potential to get your children removed from the home. So, take a DCF contact seriously.
- Not Understanding the Scope of an Investigation
Few people realize that the definitions of “neglect” and “abuse” used by DCF are incredibly broad. They are so broad that they can encompass a wide variety of seemingly acceptable child supervision and parenting behavior.
If you have fallen on hard times or simply have one bad day where you can’t get support to care for your children, you could be accused of neglect. And the standard that DCF uses for child abuse isn’t the same that the authorities use to file criminal charges.
- Not Exercising Your Rights
While you want to be cooperative with any state agency that has the power to remove your children, do not forget that you have rights. You don’t have to allow DCF into your home without a warrant. You also don’t have to consent to an interview without having an attorney present. Even when a caseworker acts like they are on your side, use caution. The best way to deal with DCF is to let them know you intend to hire an attorney that will represent your interests.
How to Succeed When Dealing With Connecticut DCF
The best way to succeed when dealing with Connecticut DCF is to hire an experienced DCF attorney and follow their advice. Seek out an attorney who has a deep understanding of Connecticut law and an extensive background in handling DCF cases. Armed with this knowledge and experience, a Connecticut DCF attorney understands the law, the agency’s procedures, and could even have an established rapport with some of the DCF personnel and applicable judges.
Your attorney is likely to give you some advice that you either don’t understand or don’t like. If you’ve hired the right law firm, your attorney is looking out for your and your children’s best interests. Share your concerns with your lawyer so that you understand the reasons for each recommendation.
An attorney with years of experience dealing with DCF will understand the consequences of certain actions or what could happen if you fail to act as they recommend. Take advantage of those hard-won lessons so that you can get the best outcome possible for your particular DCF case.
Speak With a Qualified Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney
It would be a mistake to think that simply hiring an attorney is going to fix any and all DCF issues. But the right Connecticut DCF defense attorney will sit down with you and come up with the best strategy to secure a positive case outcome.
At The Christie Law Firm, we understand that DCF intervention is stressful and frightening. No parent wants to answer to a state agency or face the prospect of losing their children, even temporarily. When you’re in this situation, we will give you the compassion and direction you need to move forward towards a successful resolution of your DCF case.
Call our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.