Why Is There A Problem With DCF?
The Department of Children and Families is the state agency responsible for child protection, behavioral health, juvenile justice and prevention services in Connecticut.
DCF works with families and communities to improve child safety, ensure that more children have permanent families, and advance the overall well-being of children. DCF protects children who are being abused or neglected, and strives to help children who are facing emotional and behavioral challenges.
While DCF certainly has a noble mission, and provides valuable services to families and communities, it sometimes carries out its duties in a heavy-handed way. In fact, DCF sometimes disregards the rights of parents, and will take actions that result in serious harm and detriment to families. Because DCF deals with child protection, the state has granted it an immense amount of power. See: The Role Of Government
When your family becomes involved with DCF, you might feel stripped of your rights and question whether you are still in America. However, you do have rights, and having a qualified attorney is the best way to protect those rights.
Note on the Two DCF’s
Many persons will find some of the articles on this web site hard to believe. After all, doesn’t DCF simply work to protect children against abusive parents?
Yes, it does, in part. However, there are two separate DCF’s.
The DCF that the public sees is the DCF as portrayed in its web site, http://www.ct.gov/dcf. This is a DCF of happy kids and happy parents being helped by kindly social workers. It is a DCF of statutes, regulations, and sound policies and procedures. It is the DCF that is portrayed to the State Legislature at budget hearings.
The DCF that many clients see is the DCF as portrayed in this web site. This is a DCF of families in trouble, whether through their own fault or not, and social workers telling them what to do. Many social workers are excellent; but some are hard-bitten, thoughtless, and interested primarily in covering their own tracks. They will give legal advice to clients that is misleading or wrong, and will discourage them from seeking lawyers to protect their rights. They often take a bad situation and make it worse. This is the DCF that clients have seen when they come to our office for help. This is the DCF that anguished parents, grandparents, and foster parents fear when they realize that they may lose their children for good.
Do you have a good social worker or not? Is that social worker listening to you, or following the dictates of supervisors and managers who do not know you? You cannot know, and that is one reason that you need a lawyer when dealing with DCF.
Life is seldom as portrayed on television. DCF today is roughly where the police were a century ago – nearly unlimited powers over a frightened populace.
When you deal with DCF, you need a DCF defense lawyer.
Here are two actual cases from March, 2010:
1. A child presented in school with mild bruises. His parents were fine people, who came from a country in which corporal punishment of children was accepted. The school nurse examined the child, and wrote an affidavit that the child was in serious danger if he remained home. The child was taken by DCF. The social worker was excellent, and realized that there was no serious danger, provided that the parents understood certain things and agreed to comply with reasonable steps. The social worker and I worked together, and the child was returned to the parents even before the initial court hearing.
2. A child was severely injured, and it was clearly intentional. The child was properly seized and an investigation begun. It was clear that the child was injured while in her mother’s care, either by the mother or by a friend of hers. We represented the father. He was nowhere in the area when the injury occurred, and the police quickly cleared him. There was no evidence that he covered-up for the mother; quite the contrary. Yet DCF actually filed a termination of parental rights petition against both parents, despite actual knowledge that there was no evidence against the father. Fortunately, we were able to clear him.
Which of the two DCF’s will you get, if this happens to you?
There is hope on the horizon. On Nov. 30, 2010, Gov. Dannel P.
Malloy appointed Conn. Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz to be
the new DCF Commissioner. Justice Katz is a compassionate
and thoughtful person, and has already improved DCF
significantly. However, parents must still remain vigilant.