Much of DCF's action is investigatory. Before cases are filed in court or agency action is taken, DCF personnel investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. Anyone suspected of abuse or neglect is investigated; not just parents. Anyone having anything to do with children--including teachers, coaches, daycare workers, health professionals, etc.--may be subject to investigations and agency actions.
If DCF concludes after its investigation that there is reasonable cause that a child has been neglected or abused, it substantiates the allegation. It must notify the person whom it determines is the perpetrator of the substantiated activity. That person has a right to appeal the agency finding. Substantiations are not criminal and also not part of the juvenile court process. They are part of DCF's agency records. Often they do go with criminal or juvenile court proceedings.
DCF maintains a database called the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry, commonly referred to as "The Registry." It includes individuals substantiated of neglect or abuse who are further determined by DCF to pose a risk to the health, safety and well-being of children. Not all substantiatiated individuals are placed in the Registry. The Registry is not public. Certain organizations and employers which work with children are allowed to request background checks from DCF to find out if someone is on the Registry.
Individuals aggrieved by a substantiation or registry placement may appeal DCF's decision. The first step is to request an internal review. The second step, if the internal review affirms the decision, is to request an administrative appeal hearing. This is a DCF administrative hearing, not a court proceeding. The individual and DCF can put on evidence and argue their positions. If the substantiation or registry decision is affirmed after the hearing, the aggrieved individual can further appeal to the Superior Court. For more information on the court appellate process, visit our Appeals page.