The ultimate sanction against a parent is Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). If DCF has filed an abuse / neglect petition, and the child is committed to DCF, and DCF later determines that you have not rehabilitated in a reasonable amount of time, then it will file a TPR petition in the Juvenile Court.
TPR trials are gut-wrenching experiences. If you lose, your parental rights are legally ended, and the child will normally be put up for adoption. TPR is a parental death sentence.
In extreme cases, DCF files a TPR simultaneously with the neglect petition. That does not happen often. Usually, you are given a chance to rehabilitate. However, as we have seen, DCF and the parent often disagree as to the parent's progress in rehabilitation.
Clearly, the best defense to a TPR is to never let it happen in the first place. When an abuse/neglect petition has been filed, you should work with your lawyer to do what is needed to get the child back and get DCF out of your life. You want to prevent TPR before it happens.
DCF normally has the best lawyers from the Attorney General's office prosecuting TPR cases. You, in turn, need an aggressive lawyer who is experienced in these matters. But, make no mistake: the best chance is to avoid it in the first place. That's why cooperating with your lawyer when an abuse/neglect petition is filed is the best strategy.
For an example of a TPR that our office handled, See: Alice and Peter.
For an example of a TPR caused by DCF over-reaching that our office prevented, See: Gregg.
URGENT NOTICE: If you are now a parent in a TPR case, see TPR and Your Lawyer.
ALSO NOTE: The Problem of Open Adoptions