Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Greenwich
A substantiation finding is not an absolute determination of guilt, but it may have that effect if left unchallenged. Fortunately, state law provides a process for appealing DCF substantiation findings in Greenwich. For help with your case, reach out to a top DCF attorney today.
What is a DCF Substantiation Finding?
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) launches an investigation when the agency receives a report that a child may be suffering from abuse or neglect. At the conclusion of the investigation, DCF sends a notice to the person alleged to have perpetrated the abuse or neglect. In this notice, the Department reports whether it finds the allegations to be substantiated or unsubstantiated.
A substantiation finding is issued when investigators discover what they consider to be reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. There is no clear standard for defining what constitutes “reasonable cause.” Therefore, one social worker may find a situation constitutes neglect while another might find that same situation to be an acceptable exercise of parental judgment.
How Does a Substantiation Hearing Work?
Parents, caregivers, or others who receive substantiation findings may request a substantiation hearing. The hearing will take place in front of a hearing officer familiar with DCF proceedings.
In the hearing, the DCF must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the child has suffered from neglect or abuse. A preponderance of the evidence means a majority of the evidence supports the finding, or that it is more likely than not that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred. If DCF fails to present evidence sufficient to make this showing, the finding of substantiation should be reversed. Thus, appealing DCF substantiation findings in Greenwich has the potential to lead to a positive outcome.
How Do I Appeal DCF’s Findings?
Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §17a-101k establishes the procedures for appealing DCF substantiation findings in Greenwich. When DCF issues a substantiation finding, the notice should contain a form to be submitted if the individual charged with abuse or neglect wishes to appeal. The first step in the appeal process is to fill out, sign, and return this form.
After receiving the appeal request, the agency will conduct an internal review of the findings, which could include an additional investigation and an interview. DCF may decide to reverse the findings based on this review. If they do not, then the agency must notify the individual involved of the right to request a hearing. The request must be submitted within 30 days.
The person accused of abuse or neglect has the right to representation by an attorney during the hearing or at any stage of the DCF appeals process in Greenwich. After the hearing, a written decision should be issued within 30 days. If the results are unfavorable, this decision may also be appealed.
Ask a Greenwich Attorney for Help Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings
DCF is required to make the results of the investigation available for review, and it is advisable to obtain the results and go over them carefully at the earliest opportunity. A review of the findings could provide grounds to support the arguments made on appeal.
Appealing DCF substantiation findings in Greenwich can be a daunting prospect, but assistance from an experienced attorney at Mark Sherman Law may help ease your concerns. A notice of substantiation does not need to be the final word after a DCF investigation.