This is this next post in my series on the handling of abuse and neglect cases in Melbourne, Florida. My last article discussed what parents should expect from the DCF process in general. It is important to know what to expect when the Department of Children and Families opens a case as understanding the process increases the chances of the matter going smoothly. If you find yourself in such a situation then it cannot be stressed enough that you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. In this article I will discuss another important topic – what happens during the investigative stage after a report is filed with DCF. If you are under investigation then it is strongly suggested that you contact counsel, even if a case has yet to be opened. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer.
When a report is made to DCF then the agency will assign a caseworker to investigate the matter. This investigation may be ongoing for some time before the parent is aware of it. The investigator will speak to the individual who filed the report. Other entities who will be spoken to will likely include schoolteachers, medical providers, neighbors, and others who have knowledge of the situation. If the case worker believes there is credible evidence that abuse, neglect, or abandonment has occurred then they will consider the report substantiated and move forward with opening a formal case. This investigation will typically include speaking with the accused parent as well (although this may not happen if it will endanger the child or otherwise threaten their safety). Anyone who realizes they are under DCF investigation should a) contact counsel immediately and b) fully cooperate with the investigation.
A caseworker who is investigating such a matter will typically visit the child’s home. A home inspection is for the purpose of ensuring that the child has safe and habitable housing. The investigator will also be ensuring that the residence is sanitary, that there is food to eat, and for any evidence that the child is in immediate danger. Questions will be asked of the parent. These questions will go over the child’s routine, how the child is cared for, etc. It is crucial that one be fully honest with the investigator, that questions be fully answered, and that the parent does not make it look as if they have something to hide. Failing to be transparent can result in the investigator a) choosing to investigate further due to a lack of transparency and/or b) broadening the scope of the investigation. Also, it is not uncommon for an investigating officer to visit the home more than once during this process.
If you or a loved one are under DCF investigation, then it is important that you take immediate steps to protect your rights. Contacting an experienced attorney is the first step in doing so. Our Melbourne family law attorney is experienced in handling such matters and we believe that everyone is entitled to quality representation. We also believe that all people, regardless of their situation, are entitled to the highest levels of respect and our firm is ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
We also serve the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.