If the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has:
- Supported a report of abuse or neglect, and
- Recorded your name in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators
you have a right to use the Fair Hearing process to appeal DCF’s decision to put your name in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators.
Will DCF let me know that I have been listed in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators?
DCF has 20 working days after they make a referral to the District Attorney to notify you that your name will be put in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators.
Will DCF let me know about my right to appeal being listed in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators?
DCF’s letter notifying you that your name has been put in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators must tell you that you have a right to a Fair Hearing to appeal the listing.
If you are under 18, the letter will be sent to you, but the DCF must send a copy to your parent(s) or guardian.
How do I start an appeal?
To start an appeal you file a written request for a Fair Hearing.
You file the request with the Hearing Office of the Department of Children and Families. Their address is 600 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111.
You must file the request within 30 days of when you receive the support decision.
The DCF encourages people to use their form to request a Fair Hearing, but you do not have to use it. If you do not use the DCF form, your request has to have the following information in it:
- your name;
- your address;
- your phone number;
- the name and address of the DCF office;
- a copy or description of the decision to put your name in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators;
- the date of the decision;
- a statement saying you are requesting a Fair Hearing to review the decision; and
- a statement saying you need an interpreter for the hearing and what language you speak.
Make two copies of the letter before you mail it to the DCF Fair Hearing Office. Send one copy to the director of the local DCF office that made the decision you are appealing. Keep the other copy of the letter for yourself.
For detailed information or help in completing a Fair Hearing request, call (617) 748-2030.
What do I have to show at the Fair Hearing to get them to reverse their decision to list me in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators?
To get the DCF to overturn their decision, you have to prove that
- There is not “substantial evidence” to show that you are responsible for the abuse or neglect.
- There is no evidence that the abuse or neglect caused one of the 4 conditions that DCF is supposed to list in the Registry of Alleged Perpetrators.
- DCF did not comply with their own policies or regulations, or with statutes or what court cases have decided, and that as a result you suffered serious harm.
What is “substantial evidence”?
“Substantial evidence” is defined as "such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." That means the evidence is the kind of evidence that it is reasonable to use to decide that something is true.
What can I do if I lose the Fair Hearing?
You can file a complaint in Superior Court asking the court to review the Fair Hearing decision.
What if I need a lawyer?
Try to talk to a lawyer if you think you might want
- A Fair Hearing or
- If you want to ask the Superior Court to review a Fair Hearing decision.
Call your local legal services program to see if you can get free legal help. You can also call a lawyer referral service to try to find a private lawyer to help you at a price you can afford. Ask for a lawyer who practices child welfare law, practices in the Juvenile Court, or handles Care and Protection cases.