Process of a DCF Investigation in Stamford
If you are under investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), you should seek representation by a top defense attorney. The process of a DCF investigation in Stamford may continue for some time, so families must remain vigilant to work toward a positive outcome.
When Does DCF Launch an Investigation?
An investigation by DCF may be launched for to numerous reasons. If family members are arrested when children are present, that can trigger a DCF investigation. Alternatively, an investigation can begin with a report filed by a neighbor or someone who works with a child, such as a teacher. Procedures may differ somewhat depending on the factors initiating the investigation.
Who are Mandated Reporters in Stamford?
Many professionals who work with children in Stamford, including teachers, doctors, coaches, pastors, and child care providers, are considered “mandated reporters” under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §17a-101. State law requires these professionals to report any suspected abuse or neglect or face criminal charges themselves. This duty includes reporting any physical injuries the reporter believes to be nonaccidental or that have conflicting stories about the origin of the injury.
What Happens When DCF Receives a Report of Suspected Abuse or Neglect?
If the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect is a child’s caregiver, has access to the child, or has the care of another child, the DCF is required to classify and evaluate the report immediately. Assuming that the report provides enough information to justify an investigation, the DCF investigation will begin shortly after if a child faces what is believed to be imminent risk of harm.
In other situations, the agency must start investigating within 72 hours of receiving the report. As part of the process of a DCF investigation in Stamford, the department must notify law enforcement officials within 12 hours if the report alleges sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.
Will DCF Interview My Child?
The DCF is required to try to minimize the number of times they conduct interviews with the child during the process of a DCF investigation in Stamford. In order to meet this mandate, the agency is ordered to share information with other authorized investigators.
Although the DCF is supposed to obtain consent from a child’s caregiver before conducting an interview, such consent is not deemed necessary if the caregiver is alleged to be the perpetrator or if seeking consent would put the child at risk of harm. Although parents may elect to withhold consent, doing so may send up a red flag, so caregivers are advised to consult a DCF defense attorney before an interview, if possible.
Can DCF Remove My Child from My Home?
DCF has the authority to remove a child from the household if such removal is considered necessary to protect the child from imminent physical harm. If the agency does not return the child within 96 hours, DCF must obtain a court order to have the child placed elsewhere.
Often, a court appearance will be scheduled for the next business day after a child is removed from the home. Caregivers are advised to seek assistance from an attorney if they wish to contest removal or have a child returned at any point in the process of a DCF investigation in Stamford.
How Does a DCF Investigation Conclude?
The DCF investigation concludes with issuance of an investigative report, which is supposed to be produced within 45 days after receipt of the report of abuse or neglect. This report should include:
- Observations made during a home visit;
- Information about the nature of the abuse or neglect, including the name of the suspected perpetrator;
- Information regarding other children in the home;
- An evaluation of the home and caregivers;
- Criminal history or previous abuse allegations connected with the caregivers.
After the process of a DCF investigation in Stamford is complete, the DCF Commissioner determines whether the evidence supports findings of abuse or neglect and whether the person responsible poses a risk to the child. Caregivers may be referred for services and added to the child abuse and neglect registry. If the DCF issues a substantiation notice, the individual accused of child abuse or neglect has the right to appeal.
Contact a Stamford Attorney for Help Navigating Your DCF Investigation
Investigations by the Department of Children and Families can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, having help from a top attorney during the process of a DCF investigation in Stamford can lead to a positive outcome. For help with your case, reach out to Mark Sherman Law today.