How do I find out what is in a 51A child abuse and neglect report and what is in the 51B investigation report?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed June 2021

If you are the child’s parent or guardian, you can write to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Regional Director for your region and ask for copies of the reports you need.

If you do not know which region you are in, who your regional director is, or how to reach your regional director, you may want to ask for that information from the area office that is handling your case. To ensure you get the documents as soon as possible, also request a copy from the area office director of the office that is handling your case.

In your letter:

  1. Include:
    1. your child’s name,
    2. your name,
    3. your address,
    4. the case number, if you have it, and
    5. the name of the DCF worker who investigated, or
    6. as much of this information as you have, and
    7. a copy of your ID. You can use a photo ID, driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
  2. Ask DCF for:
    • A copy of the 51A Child Abuse and Neglect report,
    • A copy of the 51B Child Abuse and Neglect investigation report, or
    • Copies of both the 51A and the 51B reports.
  3. Tell DCF:
    • If you are going to pick up the reports in person,
    • If you want DCF to mail the reports to you, or
    • If you need DCF to send the reports to another address. Put the other address in your letter.

Make a copy of your letter and put it in a safe place.

DCF will give you a copy of the report, or write and explain why they cannot give you the report. DCF is required to protect the best interests of your child. They will give you a copy of the report as long as it is not harmful to your child.

Expect DCF to take 30 to 45 days to respond.

Can I find out who reported me?

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not allowed to tell you the name of the person who reported you. This information is withheld or “redacted” from the reports.

Sometimes, the person who makes the report does not even give their name to DCF.

Many people who work with children have to report to DCF when they think a child is being abused or neglected. They are called "mandated reporters." Mandated reporters are people like doctors, teachers, daycare workers, and social workers.

Even though DCF cannot tell you who reported you, they do have to tell you what the person said. Sometimes you can figure out who made the report.  If you think the person who reported you is angry at you or wants to make things difficult for you or your family, you may want to tell the DCF worker. But if you think the person who reported you to DCF is someone who abused you, talk to a domestic violence advocate before you tell the DCF worker. The DCF worker may tell the person who reported you what you say.

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