Tag Archive for: dcf interview

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.


How Do I Prepare for My Reinstatement Interview With DCF?

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.