Process of a DCF Investigation
The Connecticut Department of Children and Family (DCF) is taking a very hands-on, interventionist approach with domestic violence arrest investigations throughout the State. When family members get arrested in Connecticut in front of their minor children, then not only do the wheels of the Connecticut criminal court system go immediately into motion, but a Connecticut DCF investigation must also be opened. And what many people do not realize is that a Connecticut DCF investigation of you and your family can be as invasive and threatening to your family’s welfare as the underlying domestic violence arrest.
What’s most important for Connecticut families to understand is that if your DCF investigation is not handled properly, then DCF investigators and lawyers can actually haul you into court and start restricting your custody rights, especially if you were naïve enough to sign an onerous DCF Service Agreement (sometimes called a DCF Safety Plan.)
So if you have been arrested for Disorderly Conduct and a Connecticut DCF investigator has shown up at your door, then be sure to read more on this website about understanding the DCF process and how to handle DCF competently, or with the assistance of any of the best Connecticut DCF investigation law firms. Reach out to a local DCF lawyer to discuss your options.
How Long Does DCF Have to Investigate?
If you are arrested for a Connecticut domestic violence crime and minor children were in the family home (or vicinity) when the fight or alleged criminal conduct occurred, then expect a DCF investigator to be at your front door within 48 hours. Connecticut DCF laws require the investigator to respond quickly, conduct a safety assessment of your home, assess the physical and mental health of your children, and then follow up. So how long does DCF have to investigate? There will be a 45 to 90-day intense investigation into your family, your children’s education, and health care.
What Types of DCF Investigations Are There?
There are currently two tracks of DCF investigations—a high risk “Full Investigation” of abuse or neglect, and the lower risk “Family Assessment Response” track, often called a “FAR.” Don’t take a FAR lightly, as a FAR can quickly get dialed up to a Full Investigation; however, a Full never gets knocked down to a FAR.
Regardless, in either scenario, a DCF worker will need to tour your home and interview every child in the home—individually—without parents or siblings present. Many of the best Connecticut DCF lawyers are asked whether they have to agree to allow their children to be interviewed without their parents.
Does My Child Need to Be Interviewed Without Me?
The answer is NO, but realize there could be serious consequences if you don’t permit this, such as court-ordered interviews, which can unnecessarily escalate or red-flag your Connecticut DCF investigation. DCF investigators may also want written permission from you to speak with your child’s private or public school teachers, dentists, therapists, or other health care professionals, babysitters, or nannies, all requests which deeply concern parents who are trying to maintain a positive reputation in their community.
After all, who wants DCF workers asking your kids’ teachers and doctors about their safety and health, especially following an Connecticut domestic violence arrest? The best solution in these investigations is having your top Connecticut DCF investigation lawyer attorney shield and protect you and your family from unreasonably broad demands from DCF investigators.
Let your lawyer work out a mutually acceptable compromise to their requests, such as allowing your lawyer to sit in during the interview, where they can stop the interview if your child is getting uncomfortable. They can also revise the release forms to your benefit so that DCF will not be permitted to speak with anyone in your children’s school, but DCF can still get the information and documents they need through your Connecticut DCF investigation law firm.
What Does DCF Look For In A Home Visit
The first visit from a Connecticut DCF investigator following an arrest for a domestic violence crime usually comes unannounced. These investigators are showing up at your home to make sure your children are safe. While this is a completely reasonable (and socially responsible) protocol, the problem with this process is the manner in which DCF investigators sometimes carry out this mandate.
• Problem Number 1: DCF investigators sometimes do not advise families of their legal rights to remain silent and do not explain that everything you tell these investigators is documented and kept on file at DCF. NOTHING is confidential, and often what you say can be shared with the police, judge, or the prosecutor in the underlying criminal case.
• Problem Number 2: the DCF investigator will ask/require you to sign a yellow “Service Agreement” or “Safety Plan” form, which, they say, assures DCF that you are committed to providing a safe home for your children. Of course, you are…so why do you need to sign a document?
The full and complete answer—which DCF investigators usually will not explain to you—is that if DCF does not believe you are abiding by the written Service Agreement / Safety Plan (of course in DCF’s sole discretion), then they can take you immediately to court for violating the Agreement, which is a much easier case for them to prove then if you had not signed the Agreement.
Many DCF investigation lawyers are very much aware of one of DCF’s “signature moves”—that is, presenting you with a DCF Service Agreement or Safety Plan, and downplaying its legal significance by failing to advise you of all of the critical legal rights you are signing away. And if you dare ask what happens if you don’t sign it,…and here comes DCF’s finishing move…then some DCF investigators will advise you that DCF “can” go to a Superior Court judge for a court order that can affect your custody rights, or even worse, begin removal or neglect proceedings.
Big difference between a “can” and “will” here. After all, remember the timing of this meeting. It’s likely that someone who has just been arrested for a Connecticut domestic violence crime and then taken by surprise by an unannounced DCF investigator visit within the following 24-48 hours, would not appreciate the legal distinction between what DCF “can” or “may” do, on the one hand, and what DCF “will” do, on the other. In other words, people start panicking once they hear DCF can take away your children, and immediately sign on the dotted line.
Importance of a Local DCF Lawyer
Our team of Connecticut DCF Investigation lawyers and attorneys hope that the DCF information available on this website can prepare you for any DCF investigation that follows a Connecticut domestic violence arrest. We have worked closely with almost all of the DCF investigators, most of whom are professional, compassionate, diligent, and committed to the welfare and safety of your children.
However, we cannot forget that these people are law enforcement officers, and they will not hesitate for a second to escalate your case to the police or Superior Court if they see or hear something they deem to be problematic. So before speaking with a Connecticut DCF investigator, get informed and consider getting in touch with a lawyer today.