What is DCF’s Role in Reunification?
When a child has been removed from the home by the courts following an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), that child is generally placed in a temporary custody situation, either in foster care or in the care of a relative. The preferred next step would be to reunify the child with their parent as safely and quickly as possible.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about three in five children in foster care return home to their parents. This is an encouraging statistic for any parent who is currently facing this situation. But there is some work involved to bring children back home. Some of that work is done by DCF.
Granting Guardianship in Connecticut
When the court finds that there is sufficient cause, such as neglect or abuse, it will appoint another party as your child’s legal guardian. That guardian, whether it be another relative or a foster parent, has the power to make legal decisions on behalf of your child and to act in their best interests.
But guardianship does not legally terminate your parental rights. You are still the child’s legal parent, so they cannot be placed up for adoption. If your child has been placed with a guardian in Connecticut, you have the opportunity to get reinstated as your child’s guardian through the reunification process.
The Connecticut Reunification Process
The ideal outcome for most children placed in the foster care system is reunification. The aim of DCF agents who facilitate these cases is two-fold: to achieve the reunification of parents and children as efficiently as possible and to help ensure that the children do not re-enter the foster care system in the future.
If you believe that you are ready to start the reunification process, make sure you discuss your wishes with your attorney. Provided you’ve fulfilled the court’s requirements, your attorney can file a Motion for Reinstatement, which will start the process and get DCF involved once again.
DCF’s Role in the Reunification Process
In Connecticut, the courts oversee the reunification process, and will a final determination regarding whether a child can return to a parent’s care and custody or should be placed elsewhere. The day-to-day management of the case and the in-home investigation is handled by DCF.
When your attorney files a Motion for Reinstatement with the court, there may be several court appearances necessary. The court will ask DCF to complete an investigation before it makes a final ruling.
The DCF caseworker is going to review your entire case file from start to finish to get a full understanding of your circumstances. They will also interview all the parties involved in your case, such as your children, the other parent, and the current guardian.
As a final step, the DCF caseworker will schedule a final in-home interview with you before they create their report and make a recommendation about reunification. At the in-home interview, the caseworker will ask you questions that are relevant to your case and the care of your children. For example, if you have a substance abuse issue, where did you get treatment, and what things are you doing to maintain your sobriety? Finally, the caseworker is going to look around your home to ensure that it is safe, suitable, and ready to have your children living there.
Dealing with DCF again might seem intimidating again after such an ordeal. But i’s important to approach this process as prepared as possible. You don’t have to meet the DCF agent alone, and your attorney can help you throughout this process, which is something our office strongly recommends.
Speak with a Trusted Connecticut DCF Attorney
If your children have been placed in temporary custody by the Connecticut courts, you are understandably concerned and under a great deal of stress. The situation is not meant to be permanent, but the court does have the power to terminate your parental rights, so how you approach reunification is critical to your and your children’s future.
At The Christie Law Firm, we specialize in helping parents and children who are dealing with DCF investigations. Attorney Christie has over a decade of experience working as a DCF social worker, so has an intimate understanding of the process. When you partner with our reunification attorneys, we will aggressively assert your rights and provide you with the guidance you need to successfully complete the process.
Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.