Tag Archive for: Connecticut Child Abuse

Mandated Reporter Laws in Connecticut

Suspicions, accusations, and evidence of child abuse and neglect are taken very seriously in Connecticut. In order to help the state identify and investigate potential incidents of child abuse or neglect, the state maintains a mandated reporter statute. 

The following explains the mandated reporter statute, answers questions about who is a mandated reporter in our state and the steps that a mandated reporter is required to take, and offers advice and guidance for parents and guardians regarding what to do if a child abuse report is made. For advice that is more specific to your case, reach out to The Christie Law Firm, LLC directly today. 

What Is the Mandated Reporters Statute?

The mandated reporter statute is found in Connecticut Statutes Section 17a-101, which explains that the purpose of the mandated reporter 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…” 

For these purposes, the law requires that certain professionals report any suspected child abuse or neglect to the appropriate agency. 

Who Is a Mandated Reporter?

Under the same section of the code cited above, the following professionals are considered mandated reporters and are required under the law to report suspicions or allegations of child abuse and neglect:

  • Physicians and surgeons
  • Resident physicians and interns in any hospital
  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Medical examiners
  • Dentists
  • Dental hygienists
  • Psychologists
  • School employees
  • Social workers
  • Coaches with a coaching permit from the State Board of Education
  • Coaches and directors of young athletics programs
  • Any staff or faculty member employed by a private or public institution of education
  • Police officers
  • Probation officers
  • Parole officers
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Chiropractors
  • Podiatrists
  • Mental health professionals
  • Physical assistants
  • Emergency medical providers
  • Licensed alcohol and drug counselors
  • Foster care parents
  • Paid childcare workers
  • Employees of the Department of Children and Families
  • Employees of the Office of Early Childhood
  • Youth camp directors and assistant directors
  • Child Advocates

If one of the above professionals comes in contact with a child and suspects that abuse or neglect is occurring, they will be required under the law to report their suspicions. 

Steps a Mandated Reporter Is Required to Take

If a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is a victim of abuse or neglect, or is at risk of imminent harm, they are required to report that suspected abuse to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Under the law, an oral report must be made nearly immediately—within 12 hours of first suspecting abuse or neglect—and a formal written report must be filed within 48 hours. 

What Happens After a Report of Child Abuse Is Made?

After a report of child abuse or neglect is made, DCF is responsible for opening an investigation into the allegations. Usually, the investigation will commence very shortly after the initial report is made. 

During the investigation, DCF will visit the child’s home and may interview others who have observed the child and parents, such as the child’s teacher and family members. DCF will then make a determination about whether the allegations of abuse and neglect are substantiated. If the allegations are substantiated, there may be a recommendation to remove the child from the home. 

How The Christie Law Firm, LLC Can Help 

If you have been reported to the Department of Children and Families and DCF is commencing an investigation into your family, it is critical that you reach out to a skilled DCF defense attorney as soon as possible. Most parents and guardians don’t understand the DCF investigatory process or their rights throughout an ongoing investigation, putting them at greater risk of a negative case outcome. 

An attorney can help you to understand your rights and what to do if a finding of abuse is substantiated by DCF and you are at risk of having your child removed from your home.

Call The Christie Law Firm, LLC Today

Understanding mandated reporter laws and what to do if a mandated reporter filed a report about your child with DCF is important. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, we have years of experience in DCF cases advocating for children and families. Reach out to us today by phone at (860) 461-7494, online, or in person for the legal representation you need. 

What is the Definition of Child Abuse and Child Neglect in Connecticut?

Connecticut child abuse laws aim to protect children from serious harm. They are often successful. But, unfortunately, many allegations of abuse and neglect are exaggerated or unfounded. Given the sensitive nature of these cases, child abuse and neglect are treated as serious crimes, and a conviction can lead to severe penalties.

Allegations of child abuse can create havoc for parents. A conviction means long-lasting consequences, including jail time, fines, and the potential loss of parental rights. If you are facing an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) or have charges of child abuse or neglect against you, you need to speak with an experienced Connecticut child abuse defense attorney immediately.

Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect in Connecticut

Child Abuse

In Connecticut, the term “abuse” means that a child has been physically injured through other than accidental means or is in a condition resulting from maltreatment that includes cruel punishment, emotional maltreatment, sexual abuse, or deprivation of necessities.

The state differentiates between physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

  • Physical Abuse involves injuries inconsistent with the history provided about them. Evidence includes injuries, malnutrition, and death.
  • Sexual Abuse is any incident involving a child’s non-accidental exposure to sexual behavior. Evidence includes incest, sexual exploitation, grooming, and disease.
  • Emotional Abuse involves any statements, threats, or acts which adversely impact a child and/or interferes with their positive emotional development. Evidence includes degrading, intimidating, or rejecting a child, and indicators include anxiety, depression, academic regression, and suicidal ideation.

Child Neglect

In Connecticut, a child can be found “neglected” who, for reasons other than being impoverished:

  • Has been abandoned
  • Has been abused
  • Has been denied property physical, emotional, educational, or moral care and attention
  • Is allowed to live under injurious circumstances or conditions

The state differentiates between physical, emotional, medical, and educational neglect.

  • Physical Neglect involves abuse, abandonment, or being deprived of the basics for survival. Evidence of physical neglect includes malnutrition, inadequate clothing, inadequate shelter, or inadequate supervision.
  • Emotional Neglect involves refusing to give a child the appropriate support, care, and attention. Evidence includes low self-esteem, emotional instability, and sleep issues.
  • Medical Neglect involves the refusal of or unreasonable delay or medical, dental, or mental health services. Evidence includes missed appointments or withholding necessary care from a sick child.
  • Educational Neglect involves the action or inaction related to the education of a child between the ages of 5 and 18. Evidence includes failing to register a child for school or ensure regular school attendance.

DCF’s Role in Connecticut Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

When there is an allegation of child abuse or neglect, DCF becomes involved by opening an investigation. The agency might attempt to remove the child/children from the home if they believe they are in danger.

DCF investigations can be intrusive, stressful, and lengthy. The agency will schedule home visits and may ask you to sign agreements that give them the right to extend their authority over you and your relationship with your children.

Many families find it helpful to work with an attorney who can advise them on how to deal with DCF and even act as a liaison with investigators.

Criminal Charges for Child Abuse and Neglect

When someone alleges child abuse or neglect, the police often become involved as well as DCF. The police can investigate the situation and file criminal charges if they believe the situation warrants it.

In Connecticut, it’s not uncommon for authorities to file charges for Risk of Injury to a Minor, which is a felony and covers a broad range of conduct. If you are convicted of this charge, you could face jail time, fines, and lose your parental rights.

Defenses for Child Abuse and Neglect Claims

Given that these are sensitive offenses, crimes against children are harshly prosecuted in Connecticut. Even so, many of these allegations are the result of ill intentions on the part of one parent against another or a misunderstanding.

Several defenses can result in reduced charges or a case dismissal. Some of the defenses that our law firm has had experience using include:

  • False accusations
  • Accidental harm
  • Insufficient evidence of neglect or abuse
  • Parental right to discipline a child

Every case is unique, so the best strategy will depend on your particular circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney

If you are a parent in Connecticut and have been accused of abuse or neglect, your parental rights may be at stake. You may also be facing some severe consequences if you are convicted of a crime. These situations rarely work themselves out. It’s vital that you take immediate steps to protect your rights and freedom.

At The Christie Law Firm LLC, Attorney Nicole Christie has years of experience working DCF cases and extensive knowledge of this state’s applicable laws. Call our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 to schedule an initial consultation.