What can I do if I cannot get along with my DCF worker?

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Children's Law Center, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and the Family Preservation Project

A good working relationship with your Department of Children and Families (DCF) worker is important because:

  • It is helpful for your DCF case if DCF understands your point of view. It is harder for DCF to understand your point of view if you do not get along with your worker.
  • Your DCF worker has a lot of power to affect decisions made about your DCF case. 

Sometimes your best efforts to have a good working relationship with your DCF worker do not succeed.

What can I do if I have a serious disagreement or misunderstanding with my DCF worker?

If you have a serious disagreement or misunderstanding with your worker:

  • Tell them, if you feel like you can.
  • Tell your worker’s supervisor.
  • Write to your worker and their supervisor with the facts as you see them. In your letter:
    • Ask them to add your letter to your file.
    • Stick to the facts.
    • Do not make threats or accusations.
  • Communicate in writing as much as you can. Write down notes of any conversations.
  • If you do have a meeting with your worker, you may want to have an advocate come with you. This advocate could be a 
    • parent partner,
    • peer support,
    • therapist,
    • domestic violence advocate, or
    • anyone who supports you.
What can I do if the worker is being rude or asking questions that feel inappropriate?

Often the way to get your DCF case closed without risking removal of your child is to remain as polite and calm as possible. If the worker asks something that feels inappropriate, you can politely decline to answer. If it is a question that is not relevant to the case, you can tell your worker that. Or, you can say that you will answer it in an email later.

If that feels impossible, here are some other things you might try:

  1. Keep a log of the inappropriate things that the worker has said and why it was offensive or harmful. 
  2. Ask someone you are comfortable with to be present during your meetings, including home visits, so someone else sees what is going on.
  3. Contact the DCF worker’s supervisor and report the behavior in writing. Email is fine. Please know that supervisors often side with the DCF worker. 
  4. If the behavior is truly intolerable or feels unsafe, you can contact the DCF worker’s supervisor to request a new worker be assigned to your case. Note: This option may result in your case staying open longer. You may not get a new worker even if you ask.
What if I still cannot work things out with my DCF worker?

If you have tried everything you can to work things out with the worker and supervisor, you may want to file a grievance or contact the DCF Ombudsman. See What can I do if I disagree with a DCF decision?

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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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