Darien DCF Investigations
What is the Department of Children and Families?
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigates any report that a minor may be suffering from abuse or neglect. In some cases, these reports are submitted anonymously to DCF. Other times, an incident such as an arrest for domestic violence or risk of injury triggers a Darien DCF investigation. People who work with children, such as teachers or social workers, are often required by law to report suspected child abuse.
When Does DCF Conduct an Investigation?
Anytime DCF receives a report that meets the legal criteria for abuse or neglect, they must begin a Darien DCF investigation within 72 hours. If a child is in imminent danger, the investigator is urged by DCF to begin inquiries within two hours of the report.
DCF has the authority and discretion to determine whether a situation poses a low safety risk not requiring a full investigation, in which case a family assessment may be conducted instead. Alternatively, DCF also has the authority to remove a child from the home without a parent’s consent for up to 96 hours if the child’s home poses a risk of physical harm.
What Happens During a DCF Interview?
Whether a situation is found to be low or high risk, Darien DCF will conduct an investigation in the home and with the child’s guardian. The investigator will want to speak with every child in the home without a parent or guardian present. Although investigators are supposed to obtain consent from parents before conducting an interview, consent may not be necessary if the parents are alleged to be the source of the abuse, or if other circumstances apply.
Information provided during DCF interviews becomes part of the official record, and statements can be shared with police officers, judges, and attorneys. For that reason, it is important for anyone being investigated by DCF to contact an attorney before making any statement or admission to DCF, as statements can be taken out of context and used against a parent in court proceedings. Assistance by an attorney can help parents avoid escalating the investigation and stop overly-invasive lines of questioning.
What if DCF Asks Me to Sign a Service Agreement?
During a Darien DCF investigation, parents or caregivers will always be presented with an agreement ostensibly designed to protect the child’s safety. If a parent refuses to sign the agreement, DCF may threaten to bring the family to court to begin the process of having the child removed from the home. If an agreement is signed by a parent, and then subsequently violated, DCF can bolster their case and have an even stronger argument to have the child removed.
Experienced attorneys advise delaying signing an binding agreement with DCF until legal counsel is able to review the document and negotiate the terms.
Contact an Experienced Darien Attorney for Help During a DCF Investigation
DCF often operates on the side of caution when handling investigations into potential abuse or neglect. The agency often takes actions that are overly intrusive or cautious that can deprive a parent of their rights to privacy and even to their children.
Assistance from an experienced attorney can help protect the rights and wellbeing of a family during Darien DCF investigations. For help with your situation, call the attorneys at Mark Sherman Law today.