Norwalk DCF Lawyer
Video Title: DCF Investigations
Uploaded Date: 8/25/2017
There are many different theories when it comes to parenting. Often, those who take a certain approach believe the parenting practices of others are so offensive that they rise to the level of child abuse or neglect and Connecticut law make it easy for anyone to file an anonymous report of suspected child abuse.
When allegations are raised, a family may soon find themselves the subject of an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, more commonly known as DCF.
If your family is under investigation by Connecticut DCF, contact a Norwalk DCF investigation lawyer to learn what steps you can take to be proactive, and get your case closed as soon as possible. A vigilant domestic violence attorney can fight to protect your rights.
Fighting a DCF Investigation
Once a report is filed or a risk of injury or domestic violence arrest triggers an investigation, DCF is given a short turnaround amount to make a determination whether the allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated.
To complete their investigation within that short timeframe, Norwalk DCF investigators will sometimes pursue a family with tenacity, making frequent unannounced visits to a person’s home, and approaching family members, and even children at their school, to answer questions and gather information.
Families have the legal right to limit or deny DCF access to the home in many situations. An individual can also decline signing any DCF service plans or safety agreements until they have had a chance to talk to a Norwalk DCF investigation lawyer. It is crucial for people to understand their family’s rights and work vigilantly with their lawyer to protect those rights.
How DCF Investigations Start
In Norwalk, a report of suspected child neglect or abuse can be filed quickly (or called into the 24/7 DCF hotline) by anyone who witnesses circumstances they consider to be suspicious. In addition to reports filed by mandated reporters and the general public, DCF investigations are also initiated by first responder police officers when children are present during Norwalk arrests in domestic violence cases, even if it is just for disorderly conduct.
There are certain people who are required by Connecticut law make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, a non-accidental injury, or the potential for harm to a child, and they are called mandated reporters.
Who Are Mandated Reporters?
Those required by law to report suspected neglect or abuse are classified as mandated reporters. This category of individuals includes:
- Teachers and other school employees
- Daycare providers
- Social workers
- Athletic coaches
- Doctors and nurses
- Members of the clergy
- Mental health professionals
Under a new criminal law enacted in 2016, mandated reporters now face felony penalties for failing to file a report in a case of neglect or abuse, so they have compelling incentive to report any suspicions, regardless of the scarcity of evidence.
Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings
Once DCF reaches a conclusion, the parties involved have a right to appeal the decision if the outcome is unfavorable. During the appeal process, a person and their Norwalk DCF lawyer may introduce evidence and cross-examine witnesses to dispute the findings of DCF and get a substantiation overturned.
Getting Help from a DCF Attorney
Although a DCF investigation is not technically a criminal proceeding, the need for experienced legal representation is just as important as in a criminal case.
Your Norwalk DCF investigation lawyer can explain when and how to answer DCF questions, help collect and preserve evidence obtained by DCF, and serve as your advocate during the DCF appeal process, if necessary.
An attorney with a thorough understanding of DCF investigations can work with you and your family throughout the process to help preserve family rights and keep your family together.