Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Westport
Has DCF substantiated claims that you abused or neglect your child? Protect your family and your rights by calling a top Westport attorney to help you appeal DCF’s substantiation findings.
When Does DCF Launch Investigations?
DCF may initiate investigations into various forms of alleged child abuse and neglect in a variety of ways. Many investigations begin with a report by a mandated reporter, such as a teacher, doctor, or psychologist. These individuals are required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect. In other cases, DCF may initiate an investigation if children are present in the home during a domestic violence arrest.
What Happens in a DCF Investigation?
During an investigation, DCF workers are likely to interview all household members, including the children, parents, and guardians, as well as non-household members who have regular contact with the children. These individuals might include non-custodial parents, teachers, neighbors, grandparents, and daycare providers. DCF will use the information gathered in these interviews to determine whether to substantiate the report of abuse or neglect.
What is a Substantiation Finding?
If DCF workers substantiate a report it means that they have found reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred. DCF may then places the names of any alleged perpetrators of abuse or neglect in the Central Registry, which is a law enforcement database. DCF workers also determine the next steps necessary to remedy the situation, whether it involves offering specific services to the family or taking court action to remove children from the home.
What Happens After DCF Substantiates a Report?
Since being placed on the Central Registry and accused of child abuse or neglect can be highly damaging, individuals in this situation do have legal recourse.
They can first request an internal review of the findings within 30 days of the date that DCF issued the Notice of Investigation Results.
If the internal review concludes with a finding of substantiation, Westport families can then request an appeal of the substantiation findings through an administrative hearing.
What Happens at a DCF Administrative Hearing in Westport?
Administrative hearings are held at a local DCF office in front of an DCF-appointed attorney. DCF first must present evidence that it had probable cause to substantiate the findings of abuse or neglect against the accused.
Probable cause is a low standard of proof and very different than the stringent “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. Nonetheless, counsel can cross-examine the DCF investigators during a hearing to ensure that they conducted a thorough and fair investigation and expose any faults.
Should I Retain a Westport Attorney for Help Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings?
Yes. With the stakes this high, you cannot afford to take chances with your future. Appealing DCF substantiation findings in Westport may be most successful with the help of a skilled DCF lawyer.
Consulting legal counsel before having any interactions with DCF may be wise and the most effective means of protecting your rights throughout the investigation, findings, and appeals process. You may be able to more successfully fight back against any substantiation findings with the help of a lawyer. Call the experienced lawyers at Mark Sherman Law to set up a consultation.