Tag Archive for: dcf investigation

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 to Do If DCF Calls You: DCF Investigation Results

In earlier posts, we discussed

  1. outline of a DCF investigation (see https://www.thechristielawfirm.com/what-to-do-if-dcf-calls-you)
  2. the parent’s right to know (see https://www.thechristielawfirm.com/what-to-do-if-dcf-calls-you-parents-right-to-know) and
  3. tips on handling a DCF investigation (see https://www.thechristielawfirm.com/top-10-things-to-do-or-not-do-when-you-are-being-investigated-by-dcf.)

Eventually, the DCF investigation must come to a conclusion. How it ends is as important as how it is handled. This post will outline some of the key components to the end of the DCF investigation, and what to look out for at the end. This is not intended to be legal advice, but to provide you with some general knowledge.

When we think of child abuse or child neglect we often first think of cases like children being left alone in hot cars, or children being physically abused. These events do constitute neglect and abuse, but there is a much larger area of abuse and neglect that can be harder to comprehend. This is the area that DCF has to cover as well. A parent may be very loving to their child and ensure that all of the child’s needs are met. However, if that parent drinks heavily each night after the children are asleep, DCF may consider that the children are “at-risk” as the parent may be too impaired to deal with an emergency in the middle of the night, such as a fire.

There are several categories of abuse and neglect as outlined on DCF’s website. See https://portal.ct.gov/DCF/1-DCF/Child-Abuse-and-Neglect-Definitions (Please note, you can learn a great deal about DCF by studying their own website.) The categories of abuse include:

  1. Educational Neglect
  2. Emotional Maltreatment – Abuse
  3. Emotional Neglect
  4. Medical Neglect
  5. Moral Neglect
  6. Physical Abuse
  7. Physical Neglect
  8. Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

This a long list with an even longer explanation for each of the categories. We will not go into what each of these means as there many details. However, these definitions are supposed to be a guide for DCF in making their finds. The issue is that it can be very subjective. It is how each DCF social worker and their management looks at the facts that determine if they are going to substantiate any abuse or neglect. To substantiate means to find that abuse or neglect has occurred to a child or children.

Once DCF has decided if it can substantiate abuse or neglect. They will also make a determination of who caused the abuse and/or neglect. This again is based on the evidence found during the investigation. This is also documented in the investigation protocol – a document completed by the investigation social worker which details the entire investigation and the findings. You can get a copy of your investigation by emailing DCF.RECORDS@ct.gov and following the directions given to you. DCF is then obligated to send the parents a letter noting if abuse or neglect was substantiated and by whom. They will also indicate if that person who caused the abuse or neglect is placed on the DCF Central Registry – a list of individuals who pose a threat to children.

Never overlook a DCF substantiation as it can have long-lasting consequences for anyone found to have abused or neglected a child. For example:

  • A grandmother can be excluded as foster parents for their own grandchild if they were found to have neglected a child over 20 years ago.
  • An aunt and uncle could be excluded from being legal guardians for their niece and nephew due to medical neglect of their own child substantiated 15 years ago.
  • A teacher can risk losing her job if found to have neglected her daughter who had severe mental health needs that were beyond her control.

These are true stories of clients that we have helped whose lives were severely impacted by a substantiation. They disagreed with the investigation, and in some, we were able to get the substantiation reversed – which means overturned and therefore there was no finding of abuse or neglect. In others, no change was made, and the families continued to deal with consequences.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to handle a DCF investigation properly. You will never know the impact it can have your family 5, 10 or 20 years down the road. If you are a subject of DCF investigation and you need help please contact our office if at (860) 461-7494 or email: family1st@thechristielawfirm.com.