Process of a DCF Investigation in Ridgefield
When the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) decides to investigate someone suspected of abusing, neglecting, or otherwise endangering children in their household, the ensuing investigation often moves quickly and can be tricky to handle in a proactive way. Knowing what to expect during a DCF investigation in Ridgefield and working with a skilled defense attorney can help protect your family’s rights through the process.
What Types of Investigations Can DCF Open?
Whether Ridgefield DCF decides to open an investigation based on a Domestic Violence arrest or based on a report from a third party, the first step in the investigative process is deciding what type of investigation they will pursue. If DCF believes there is a significant risk that a child is being abused or neglected, they will open a “Full Investigation” that will conclude either with the allegations being dismissed or with them being “substantiated,” followed by further action from state authorities.
Alternatively, if DCF believes there is a relatively low risk of serious abuse or neglect, they can conduct a “Family Assessment Response.” This investigation is less intensive and designed primarily to help families access important resources to protect the well-being of the children in their households. Importantly, DCF can convert a Family Assessment Response to a Full Investigation at any time, while a Full Investigation cannot be downgraded to a Family Assessment Response.
Basic Steps in the Investigation Process
Either type of investigation undertaken by DCF in Ridgefield will involve multiple rounds of interviews with all household members, surprise home inspections, and assessments of the physical and psychological health of the children in the household. DCF investigators may also speak with non-family members like teachers, doctors, therapists, or babysitters who are familiar with the children involved, and they typically request permission from parents to interview their children by themselves.
DCF must complete their investigation within 45 days, but investigators can request a maximum 45-day extension if they present evidence to the court establishing a valid reason for doing so. Investigators may also ask parents to sign a “Safety Plan” or “Service Agreement” without being completely clear on what rights they are giving up by signing—something our skilled attorneys can provide crucial help managing.
The Results of a DCF Investigation
If DCF does not find any evidence of abuse or neglect during a Full Investigation, or if they do not find enough evidence to establish that a child in the household is at risk of serious physical, emotional, or moral harm, investigators will dismiss the allegations and “unsubstantiate” the allegations. If claims of neglect or abuse are “substantiated,” though, DCF may recommend that the parties under investigation be placed on the Department’s Central Registry as people who have engaged in child abuse. Depending on the circumstances, DCF may also recommend further disciplinary action, including the loss of custody or parental rights.
Learn More About the DCF Investigation Process from a Ridgefield Attorney
This is just a broad overview of what goes into the process of a DCF investigation in Ridgefield. When you are dealing with an inquiry from DCF and want to ensure you get the best possible resolution, there is no substitute for guidance from a qualified attorney from the Law Offices of Mark Sherman. Call today to discuss your options, and click here to view our Avvo profile with hundreds of certified reviews from previous clients.