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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.