Norwalk DCF Investigations
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families is responsible for investigating reports that a child may be experiencing neglect or abuse from their parent(s) or guardian(s).
From the moment they receive a credible report, DCF has 45 days to initiate an investigation, perform all necessary inquiries related to that investigation, and come to a final conclusion with a suggested plan of action. Because of this relatively short window of time to act, DCF often creates files for impending investigations in a matter of hours after receiving a report and will initiate the investigation within a few days. A defense attorney can react quickly to protect your name and future following a DCF investigation in Norwalk.
Do I Have to Speak to DCF?
When an investigation for reported abuse or neglect is opened by DCF, this agency will reach out to a child’s guardian to ask questions or to request a statement regarding the allegations. When families answer questions or make statements to DCF investigators, the information provided is kept by the agency and may be shared with law enforcement officials or used in court. Importantly, anything said during an investigation in Norwalk can be used against a family to keep a DCF case alive or to bolster the agency’s position in court.
Anyone being investigated by the DCF has the right to remain silent during an investigation, but they can forfeit this right if they are not careful. It is often helpful to be assisted by an experienced attorney who knows how to protect a family’s rights and privacy when DCF investigations become unnecessarily invasive.
What Rights Do Parents and Guardians Have During DCF Investigations?
Individuals in Norwalk who are subject to investigation by DCF are not required to provide information they do not wish to provide or even to speak with the investigator at all. However, the investigator will continue their investigation regardless of any cooperation from the parent(s) or guardian(s) they are looking into. Additionally, individuals being investigated do not have the right to know the identity of the person who reported them, and DCF will not confirm or deny the reporter’s identity even if asked directly.
In light of all this, speaking with legal counsel in Norwalk before speaking with DCF can be crucial for any parent or guardian looking to maximize their chances of a positive resolution to an investigation. In addition to guiding involved parties through conversations and interviews with DCF investigators, a qualified attorney could also work to limit the amount of communication that investigators have with children involved in a case.
What are Service Agreements and Safety Plans?
During the course of a Norwalk DCF investigation, parents or guardians may be asked to sign a safety plan or service agreement, which investigators may describe as a pledge to provide a safe environment for the minor child. These safety agreements typically require parents or guardians to submit to services that are often not necessary, and a violation of one of these conditions could be used against a family as evidence of a safety violation.
Will DCF Visit my Home During an Investigation?
DCF is supposed to conduct at least one home visit during an investigation, along with an evaluation of the parents and living conditions. Information from this visit will be included in an investigation report.
According to Connecticut law, the agency must obtain consent from parents or caregivers before interviewing children. However, the consent requirement is waived if the parent or caregiver is alleged to be the source of the abuse, or if the process of obtaining consent would place the child at risk of harm. Although parents may deny consent or insist on being present for the interview, this approach may result in a court-ordered interview which can be traumatic for a child and could result in the child’s removal from the home.
What Results Could a DCF Investigation Have?
DCF investigations in Norwalk may conclude with one of three findings: unsubstantiated proof, indicated proof, and substantiated proof. The first of these means that the investigator found no evidence whatsoever of any abuse or neglect in the household and family they investigated, while the second means the investigator found evidence of minor or moderate mistreatment.
A substantiated DCF report means that the investigator found what they believe to be proof of severe neglect and abuse. This proof does not necessarily need to be documentary or forensic in nature. In fact, DCF investigators often consider hearsay, speculation, and implications to be substantiated proof of mistreatment.
It is worth noting, though, that individuals on the sex offender registry are ineligible to appeal substantiated DCF findings of abuse or neglect, and that additional conditions may apply to appeals of substantiated findings that are several years old.
Contact Mark Sherman Law Today for Help During a Norwalk DCF Investigation
A knowledgeable attorney from Mark Sherman Law can explain what to expect during your DCF investigation as well as the potential outcomes. While a Norwalk DCF investigation may be painful for a family, the process can be easier to endure with guidance from an experienced legal advocate. Click here to read our over 300 certified client reviews on Avvo.com, and call today to schedule your confidential consultation.