The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the state agency responsible for protecting children and helping troubled families. They:
- Receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.
See How does the Department of Children and Families find out about child abuse and neglect?
- 'Screen' and investigate reports that a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect.
See What does the Department of Children and Families (DCF) do when they get a 51A report?
- Handle appeals of their decisions.
See What can I do if I disagree with the Department of Children and Families?
- Provide services to support your family if:
- DCF opens a case for your child but believes your child does not need to be removed from your home.
- DCF opens a case and you to agree to do certain things so you can keep your child in your home. DCF calls this agreement an 'action plan' or a 'service plan.'
See What if DCF opens a case for my family?
- a court has made a referral for DCF services in a Child Requiring Services Case (CRA).
- Remove children from their home if DCF believes the children are at risk of abuse or neglect.
- In non-emergency cases, DCF must get Court approval before they remove a child.
- In emergency cases, DCF can remove a child first and get Court approval as soon as possible afterwards.
See Can DCF take my child?
- Take children into custody if a judge in a Children Requiring Assistance case orders a child into DCF care. See What if my child does not show up for a Preliminary Hearing?
- Have specialists that deal with:
- domestic violence,
- mental health,
- medical issues,
- substance use issues,
- sexual abuse,
- housing, and
- adolescent outreach.
- Keep records of their involvement with families.
- Are also a licensed child placement agency. They can place children in foster care, voluntarily or through a court order.
- Arrange for the adoption of children if a court has 'terminated' their parents' rights.