DCF Fair Hearings Help Center

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Children's Law Center and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

In Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the agency responsible for making sure children are safe. It is supposed to do this by supporting children's families when they need help. It is only supposed to remove children and put them in the foster system if it is not possible to keep them safe with their families.

A fair hearing at the DCF is a hearing before a neutral hearing officer, employed by DCF. You can have a fair hearing to appeal certain decisions that DCF made about you or your family that you disagree with.

Fair Hearing Guide

Download a PDF copy of the guide: 

Taking a Closer Look: Fair Hearings with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) 
by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, July 2018 (updated October 2023)

This is a guide about navigating the DCF fair hearing process. It can be used by low-income litigants, survivors, self-represented individuals, and advocates.

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DCF FPP advocates

Family Preservation Project (FPP) advocates can help families with DCF involvement if the families:

  • are currently being investigated by DCF, or
  • have an open DCF case, or
  • in some cases, are at immediate risk of being involved with DCF, and

do not have a current DCF court case.

Find an FPP advocate.


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