Tag Archive for: neglect

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. 

What Is a DCF Neglect Petition and How Can I Fight One?

The idea of losing your child may be the worst thing imaginable. However, that is exactly what can happen if the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) files a neglect petition against you and has success in court. If you have had a DCF neglect petition filed against you, the first thing that you should know is that there are options available to you and you can fight the neglect petition; the second thing that you should know is that working with a skilled attorney who has experience in Connecticut DCF cases is key. To get the help and support you need, call The Christie Law Firm, LLC today.

What Is a DCF Neglect Petition?

When the CT Department of Children and Families has a concern about a child’s safety, welfare, or health, it can file a petition stating that it believes that the parent has abused a child, neglected a child, or is unable to meet the child’s needs. When the DCF files a neglect petition, they must then serve a copy of the petition to the family in question.

Per Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-120, a child may be found “neglected” when they:

  • Have been abandoned;
  • Are being denied proper physical, emotional, or moral care and attention; or
  • Are living under conditions and circumstances that are considered injurious to the child. 

What to Do After Receiving a DCF Neglect Petition 

Receiving a DCF neglect petition can be extremely scary. You may be unsure of what the petition means, what your rights are, whether you will lose your child, and how to proceed. The first thing that you should do if you receive a DCF neglect petition is to call an attorney who is experienced in cases involving DCF.

After you receive the DCF neglect petition, you will have the opportunity to respond to the petition and attend a hearing, during which time the DCF will present any evidence of neglect that it has. During the hearing, you have the right to legal representation.

Consequences of a Neglect Petition 

The consequences of a neglect petition can be severe. If a neglect petition is filed, it may be filed in conjunction with a motion for temporary custody — this means that the DCF is asking the court to remove the child from the home and place the child in DCFs custody temporarily. There are usually two different ways that a neglect petition is resolved:

  • Commitment of the minor child. If the DCF has evidence that neglect is occurring, they may ask the court to remove the parent/guardian’s legal rights and to place the child in a foster home until further notice. While a parent can file a motion to revoke a commitment order, they will first need to show proof that the cause of neglect and need for commitment no longer exists.
  • Protective supervision. A much better option than having your child removed from the home, yet still an intimidating and invasive one, is for the DCF to ask the court for a period of protection supervision. If the court consents to DCF’s request, then the child can remain in the home but DCF can enter the home to check on the child and the parents will be required to comply with certain court-ordered steps and actions.

What Does the DCF Need to Prove In Order to Win Its Case? 

In order for the DCF to win its case, it must meet a relatively low burden of proof — by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the DCF must show the court that it is more likely than not that the child is a victim of neglect. Because this is a low standard, it can make defending yourself against a DCF petition relatively challenging. For this reason, and others, working with an attorney who can gather evidence, build your claim, and represent your interests is critical. 

Why Do I Need a DCF Neglect Petition Attorney?

If a DCF neglect petition has been filed against you, the potential consequences are very serious and there is a lot on the line. You need an attorney on your side to help you to understand the process and your rights, build your defense, and show the court that your child should remain in your home.

At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, our DCF neglect petition attorney has experience working on Connecticut DCF cases and providing families like yours with the legal guidance and representation they need. To learn more about your options and to get support during this challenging time, call our firm at (860) 461-7494, send us a message online, or visit our office in person.