New Haven DCF Investigations Process
In the state of Connecticut, citizens are encouraged to contact the Department of Children and Families if they suspect anyone of abusing or neglecting a child. They may also report individuals if they suspect domestic violence is occurring in their household, even if children are not subjected to the violence.
Once the DCF receives a report of violence or neglect, it is legally required to launch an investigation. There are various levels of a DCF investigation, but they are all important. If you are currently under investigation, you may need guidance from a capable DCF attorney who understands the New Haven DCF investigations process.
Stage One: The Safety Assessment
If a person is arrested for domestic violence and there is a person under the age of 18 in the home at the time, the DCF is required to conduct a safety assessment within 48 hours of the initial arrest. This safety assessment requires a DCF official to visit the home where the arrest took place, examine the living environment, and assess the mental and physical condition of the children residing in the home.
If the official suspects abuse or neglect, they may order a full investigation, which can result in a parent or guardian having to go before a judge. If the official orders a “Family Assessment Response,” it means the DCF must remain involved but the children in the household are not in any immediate danger. DCF officials do have the authority to remove children from a home at once if they notice signs of recent abuse or neglect.
Stage Two: The Interview Process
As mentioned above, DCF investigators generally speak with everyone residing in the household, even if a parent or guardian is not present in the home at the time. Parents do have the right to deny DCF investigators permission to interview their children, but this can send up a red flag to the DCF and work against a parent if the case goes to court.
However, there are a few fundamental legal issues with DCF safety assessments. DCF officials are not required to advise parents or children about their legal rights, and after signing a “service agreement”—which guarantees a parent will properly care for their children—DCF officials often fail to explain exactly what the agreement entails. For this reason, it is wise to have access to the counsel of an attorney during the New Haven DCF investigations process.
Stage Three: The DCF Report and Court Intervention
If the DCF elects to perform a full investigation of a household, the investigation official must compile a full report of their findings and submit it to the department. In the report, officials must state whether they believe the allegations are “unsubstantiated” or “substantiated” within 45 days of the initial safety assessment.
If the DCF believes a parent is a physical or emotional threat to their child, they report would classify the allegations as “substantiated.” If this occurs, the state may proceed to involve the court system, and the court has the authority to remove the child from the home, temporarily suspend parental rights, or order supervised visits until an additional trial can be ordered.
Learning More About the DCF Investigations Process in New Haven
If you are currently under investigation by the DCF, you will likely need high-quality legal representation. Investigations can be intimidating, and if DCF officials suspect abuse, it is possible a court could revoke your parental rights. Get in touch with a local lawyer today to learn more about the New Haven DCF investigations process.