Group Picture of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC

Fighting DCF Investigations in New Canaan, Connecticut (Part 1 of 3)

Fighting DCF Investigations in New Canaan, Connecticut
(Part 1 of 3)

An investigation by the New Canaan Connecticut Department of Children and Families (usually known as “DCF”) can often come as a surprise. Depending on the nature of the allegations against you, DCF is required to respond within 12 to 72 hours. And as any of the best New Canaan Connecticut DCF lawyers understand, a DCF investigation is almost always triggered by a referral to DCF, usually made by a “mandated reporter” in Connecticut, such as a police officer, teacher, coach, doctor, or therapist. Mandated reporters in Connecticut are required by law to file a report with Connecticut DCF if they receive any report (whether it be true of false) of child abuse or neglect for any child under 18, or any student who is in high school or younger.

The top New Canaan Connecticut DCF lawyers will tell you that once DCF receives a report, the case is assigned to a DCF investigation social worker who must immediately launch an in depth investigation into you and your family. They will want to inspect your home, interview your children and family members separately from you, and will often try and contact your children’s schools and primary care givers. So if you are the target of a New Canaan DCF investigation, then you should immediately contact a top New Canaan DCF lawyer attorney to help you get through the investigation as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Don’t Let the New Canaan DCF Investigator Into Your Home Until You Speak with a Lawyer

The best New Canaan Connecticut DCF investigation law firms know that almost all DCF investigations start with a surprise knock on your door by a DCF social worker (or they drop a letter in your mailbox). Why the surprise element? That’s because DCF operates under the assumption that they will get the most accurate and realistic impression of your family if New Canaan DCF shows up by surprise for the first interview and assessment.

But here’s where you need to exercise your rights…do not be afraid to tell the social worker that you refuse to let them into your home, and ask them to come back either later in the day or later that week after you’ve had a chance to speak with a top New Canaan DCF lawyer. They may be annoyed. They may pressure you to let them into your home. But know that it is your absolute right to refuse them entry into your home and reschedule that meeting.

What Does a New Canaan Connecticut DCF Investigation Entail?

The most experienced New Canaan DCF attorneys appreciate that there are 2 types of DCF investigations: a “FAR” investigation and a “Full” Investigation. FAR stands for a “Family Assessment Response” investigation and is a low risk investigation. “Full” investigations are reserved for the more serious abuse or neglect DCF investigations, and in serious cases, can result in an “Order of Temporary Removal” hearing (an “OTR”) which is issued by the Connecticut Superior Court.

What is a DCF Family Assessment Response (FAR) Investigation in New Canaan, Connecticut?

Many of the best New Canaan Connecticut DCF attorneys and lawyers understand that FAR investigations are 45-day risk assessments conducted by Connecticut DCF investigators. DCF Family Assessment Responses, however, can quickly turn into a much bigger problem if not handled properly. It is a low-risk investigation that deals with the same procedures and protocols as a Full Investigation but does not end with any findings, substantiations, or un-substantiations of the abuse or neglect accusations. The most serious consequences of a DCF FAR investigation in New Canaan is that DCF can at raise a FAR investigation to a Full Investigation, especially safety or stability issues or concerns arise during the 45-day investigation. These types of issues include: failing a drug test or alcohol test, red flags raised by interviews with you or your kids, or if DCF feels you are being dishonest or uncooperative.

A “Full” DCF (OTR) Investigation in New Canaan, Connecticut?

A Full DCF investigation is the most serious investigation and involves a dedicated DCF social worker, a 45-day investigation, and a formal, written finding issued at the end of the investigation. This finding will either substantiate or un-substantiate the allegations, which can feel like a guilty or not guilty finding. The problem with a Full Investigation, however, is that you are unable to present any of your own evidence before an impartial judge, or know any of the information that the DCF social worker is gathering. DCF is the judge. If this sounds unfair, that’s because it is—so don’t try to go through this investigation without contacting a top New Canaan DCF attorney immediately.

When Your New Canaan DCF Case Closes

At the end of a Full Investigation, DCF closes the investigative phase of your case, and then issues its ruling in a letter that you receive in the mail. And if the Full Investigation doesn’t go well, DCF may then force in-home services on you which you will feel pressured to accept. When you get this investigation closing letter, make sure to look closely at the letter because DCF can check 2 boxes on the findings: (1) whether you pose a continued threat to the health, safety, and welfare of your children; and (2) whether DCF is going to publish your finding of abuse or neglect on the Central Registry. The Central Registry is publicly available for anyone to access, and can cause havoc with employment background checks, youth sports coaching opportunities, or any other volunteer work you’d like to engage in with children.

Continue Reading…New Canaan DCF Investigations, Part 2 of 3
(Getting Your DCF Case Closed, Appealing Your DCF Case, and more)