One of the biggest decisions a parent must make if the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) shows up at their door is whether or not to cooperate. While agency investigators have no right to come into your home without a warrant, there could be serious consequences for not cooperating with an investigation.
But how much cooperation is too much? You should be honest and helpful to a point. However, when an investigator puts a form in front of you and says you should sign it, that could also have negative consequences.
What Is A Connecticut DCF Safety Plan?
In Connecticut, about half of all DCF cases end up with what is called a Safety Plan. From the perspective of the DCF investigator, a Safety Plan is put in place so that a parent understands what should or should not be done to ensure a child’s safety.
For example, a safety plan might dictate that a parent cannot drink or use drugs in the child’s presence, must complete a substance abuse course, or that children must live with a relative for a specified period while DCF completes its investigation.
But parents rarely get input on these plans, and they are put together quickly. The agency is tasked with protecting the welfare of children throughout the state, but they might not get a clear picture of the situation. This puts both parents and their children at a distinct disadvantage, so it is vital that you use caution when an investigator suggests a Safety Plan.
Should You Sign A DCF Safety Plan?
What many parents do not realize is that signing a Safety Plan is not mandatory. That is right – you do not have to sign the form that DCF puts in front of you. In fact, you should not sign a Safety Plan without first speaking with an attorney.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Protective Services nationwide received over 4.3 million allegations of juvenile mistreatment in 2018 alone. That is a staggering figure. But what is even more disturbing is that over half (56.3%) of the claims were unsubstantiated.
When you sign a Safety Plan, you are giving DCF the power to potentially remove your children from your home if they decide you are not complying with their list of demands. It is rare that an investigator will tell you this or advise you of your rights before an interview.
Therefore, it is a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as you learn you are under investigation by DCF.
If You’ve Already Signed a Safety Plan and Feel Stuck
It is not uncommon for parents to feel so intimidated by DCF investigators that they will sign just about anything, thinking they are doing what is best for their children. After all, the law in most states requires that parents act in the best interests of their children.
If you signed a Safety Plan and do not feel that DCF is treating you fairly, you certainly are not alone. News stories and investigations have been opened nationwide about Safety Plans. Lawsuits have even been filed alleging that these instruments are unconstitutional.
When DCF uses flimsy reasoning to remove your children from your home, prolong an investigation, or issue an investigation decision without substantiation, it is time to fight back. Even if you did not have an attorney during the investigation or before signing a Safety Plan, you can get one now to file an appeal. Contact us today.
Speak With an Experienced Connecticut DCF Lawyer
DCF is not going to outline your rights, but you have them and should exercise them for the sake of your family. A state agency that has the power to remove your children from your home has legal resources in its corner, so you do not want to face them alone when your family’s future is at stake.
The Christie Law Firm, LLC will protect your rights and represent your interests throughout a DCF investigation and appeal. With more than a decade of experience as a DCF worker, our attorney understands how this agency works and has the legal background to give your case the attention it needs and deserves.
Contact our Hartford office today for a confidential initial consultation. Call (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online for an appointment.