What happens when a DCF report turns to an emergency

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) policy and philosophy is to “strengthen and encourage family life so that every family can care for and protect its children. DCF will intervene to protect the right of children to sound health and normal physical and mental development.”

If DCF receives an oral or written allegation of abuse or neglect, also called a “51A” report, DCF will begin to investigate the report. If the screener determines that the allegation poses a threat of immediate danger to the life, health, or physical safety of the child, then the report will be designated as an “emergency report.”

Once the allegation is designated as an “emergency report” DCF will visit the child at least once, if not more, within a 24 hour period from the allegation. This visit usually occurs in the child’s home. DCF also may request the assistance of local law enforcement for extreme allegations of immediate threat, such as abandonment, intoxicated caretaker, or violent domestic violence dispute.

DCF must complete the emergency report within five business days, which will include interviewing any collateral contacts to the child, such as pediatricians, dentists, therapists, school counselors, and daycare providers. DCF does not need a parent’s permission or consent to speak to the child’s collateral contacts.

During the DCF investigation, you have a right to be represented by an attorney. It is essential to seek out representation from the beginning until the end of the investigation because you have rights that must be protected. Anything that is stated to a DCF worker will be documented in writing and can be used against that person in other court proceedings. If you or someone you know is being investigated by DCF, call Ryan Faenza Carey to discuss your rights.

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