Investigations & Home Visits
A family’s first contact with DCF is often during the investigation into a complaint about abuse or neglect. This complaint can come to DCF in a number of different ways:
- DCF can receive a complaint via the “Hotline,” a phone number that members of the public (neighbors, etc.) can call to complain about a parent. All hotline calls are investigated.
- Investigations may also be started after a 136 form is filed by a mandated reporter (teachers, doctors, police officers, etc.)
If an investigation is opened, DCF must complete the investigation within 45 days. At the end of the 45-day period, DCF must make a determination of whether abuse or neglect has occurred. If DCF determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect has occurred, they will "substantiate" you. If you are substantiated, and may also recommend you for placement on their Central Registry. Read more about substantiations/placement on the Central Registry »
Home visits are conducted by DCF on families that are involved with DCF either through formal court actions or voluntary services. Additionally, some families that are subjected to home visits have entered into safety agreements with DCF. In a safety agreement, the family agrees to engage in some type of service or allow DCF access to the home in lieu of DCF taking some other form of action. While a safety agreement may sound harmless, it is not. These are usually entered into without the assistance of an attorney, and if a parent violates a safety agreement, DCF will attempt to use this as proof that a child is neglected. Simply put, you should never enter into a safety agreement without the assistance of an attorney.
Further, families that are under court orders (in child protection cases, these orders are known as specific steps) must allow DCF into their homes for visits. When a DCF worker has free access to the parent and family, they may ask for information that could be potentially harmful to the parents. The court will advise you of your right to have an attorney present when discussing your case, but the court will also order that DCF can enter the home whenever they want, and will encourage you to “work with” DCF.