When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) receives a report of abuse or neglect, it will respond immediately. In most cases, the agency will launch an investigation, which can last up to 45 days and lead to DCF becoming a constant presence in your life.
Unfortunately, too many parents react to DCF involvement in their lives by downplaying the seriousness of the situation or mistakenly believing that the investigator will close their matter quickly. This rarely happens, and parents discover too late that they should have consulted with an attorney before dealing with DCF.
Don’t Be in Denial About How DCF Works
Too frequently, when a parent learns that DCF has been contacted about an abuse or neglect allegation involving their child, the first thought goes something like this: I have nothing to hide, DCF won’t find anything out about me or my family, I will just explain what happened, and they will understand, etc.
It’s part of the investigator’s job to make you feel comfortable enough to disclose information freely. In many cases, DCF will substantiate a finding of abuse or neglect based on a behavior that you never even realized was a problem. And once that finding happens, you will have a hard time getting DCF out of your life. You even risk having your children removed from your home.
Should I Call a Lawyer Before Speaking With DCF?
While you may want to cooperate with DCF, you should go about it wisely. Your best strategy is to tell the DCF investigator that you want to cooperate and answer their questions but would like to speak with an attorney first. If they are persistent, you can insist.
DCF investigators are employees of the state. This means, as a private citizen, if DCF is at your home and asking to enter and speak with your children, you can refuse. You can allow the investigator to look at your children. But you don’t have to allow them to question your children without having a lawyer present.
The exception to this is if DCF arrives with an order to remove your children from the home. You will always need to comply with a court order, but should still contact an attorney as soon as possible to advocate for your rights.
Do I Need to Tell My Lawyer Everything?
Your DCF defense attorney is on your side. They will ask you a lot of questions about your situation, your children, and yourself. Some questions might seem personal, or you might feel embarrassed about revealing information. But, remember that everything you tell your attorney must be kept confidential. Unless you say something that could place another person in danger, your lawyer isn’t permitted to tell anyone what you say without your permission.
So be completely upfront with your attorney. The more they know, the better — especially if what you tell them is going to be uncovered by the DCF investigator anyway. It’s always better that your attorney is the first to know something instead of being surprised by information that comes to light in a courtroom. Specifically, you always want to tell your attorney the truth about:
- Why DCF is investigating you for child abuse or neglect;
- Whether you’ve been investigated by Connecticut DCF or any other state in the past;
- Whether you have a history of domestic violence, criminal charges of any kind, drug use, or excessive alcohol use; and
- Where your child’s other parent is and how they can be contacted.
If you can think of anything that might be important to your case, even if your attorney hasn’t asked about it, tell them!
How Your DCF Attorney Can Help Your Case
Your DCF defense attorney will meet with you and learn about the facts of your situation. If necessary, they can hire an investigator to interview witnesses and build your defense. Your attorney will represent your interests in meetings and hearings with DCF investigators and applicable courts. Your trusted counsel will guide your matter until your case with DCF has been resolved.
Contact an Experienced Connecticut DCF Defense Attorney
Navigating a Connecticut DCF investigation can be stressful and confusing. One wrong move can lead to prolonged DCF involvement in the lives of you and your children. If DCF contacts you, it’s important that you seek qualified counsel immediately.
The Christie Law Firm specializes in protecting the rights of parents who are facing DCF allegations. Attorney Christie has extensive experience helping clients navigate this process and will speak to you about the best way to respond to an investigator’s demands and questions. Please call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to learn more about our services.