Greenwich DCF Lawyer
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families, also known as Connecticut DCF, is a law enforcement agency designed to protect children in the state. They do not have the authority to make arrests, although they have the authority to appear at an individual’s home in certain circumstances. The primary purpose of Connecticut DCF is to protect children from child abuse and child neglect. Child neglect can be in the form of emotional neglect or physical neglect.
If you are under investigation, it is important to retain the help of an experienced Greenwich DCF lawyer as soon as possible. A compassionate and skilled lawyer can work hard on dealing with your particular investigation.
What Does a Referral to DCF Mean?
Whenever a report is made to DCF for suspected child abuse or neglect, the agency must respond within 24 or 72 hours, depending on the severity of the accusation. The most common scenario for a DCF investigation is a domestic violence arrest in the presence of children or in the vicinity of children, regardless of whether the children are the victims of the crime or whether they are just present in the house, or even sleeping in a house, during a domestic violence arrest.
A referral to DCF is usually made by a Mandated Reporter who is an individual required by state law to report any suspicion of abuse and neglect. Once a referral is made, local DCF investigators must determine whether or not to open an investigation, and then a 45-day investigation will commence. If DCF shows up at your house, a Greenwich lawyer should be consulted. DCF referrals usually go hand in hand with arrests for risk of injury to a minor or child endangerment. These are the most common charges. DCF referrals also follow arrests for leaving a child under the age of 12 unsupervised in a car.
Who are Considered Mandated Reporters?
Mandated Reporters are typically anyone who works with or comes into regular contact with children or secondary school students, like school teachers, coaches, therapists, music teachers, pre-school teachers, physicians, nurses, and dentists. Mandated reporters are required to report suspected abuse or neglect of children or elementary, middle school or high school students, regardless of whether they are under or over 18.
Mandated reporters are required to contact DCF when they see marks and bruises on their body that are unusual, or when children who seem to be malnourished, are not being fed properly, are or not being properly taken care of.
What is FAR?
A DCR Family Assessment Response Investigation (FAR) is a lower-risk investigation that does not result in a substantiation finding. It can elevate or escalate to a full DCF investigation if it is not handled properly by an experienced Greenwich attorney. An investigation usually takes 45 days. It is almost identical to a full investigation. There are several interviews and visits to a person’s home and hopefully, an experienced Greenwich attorney can shorten the process and limit the DCF interference to just one home visit.
If a DCF investigator hears of certain disclosures, or if these individuals do not feel the family is cooperating, it could raise red flags. The person being investigated will receive a letter in the mail with the results of the findings, whether it is a substantiation or not a substantiation.
Appealing a DCF Substantiation
Any DCF substantiation finding can be appealed. It is a lengthy process allowing the individual a full evidentiary hearing, which is probably the most transparent and most fair process committed by DCF. The individual is entitled to have witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and confront them. The individual is entitled to a full review of the DCF files. Every individual should strongly consider appealing any DCF substantiation finding. DCF will need to be notified of an appeal within 30 days of the decision for the first stage of the internal review, and then they have a few months to file an evidentiary appeal. The matter is reviewed by an impartial Hearing Officer.
A Greenwich DCF lawyer can help an individual by gathering witnesses and cross-examining witnesses as they would in a criminal trial. Having an attorney is a huge advantage because they can also issue subpoenas that require people to bring documents and evidence.