New Britain Courthouse

Appealing an Investigation Finding From the Connecticut DCF

Representatives from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) showing up at your door unannounced is not your best day. You probably feel stressed and helpless as they go about investigating allegations that you are abusing or neglecting minor children in your care. Once they conclude their investigation, you must wait until you receive a notice stating whether the allegations against you are substantiated or dismissed. If you discover that DCF investigators felt the allegations were substantiated, you have a rather robust appeals process you can start. 

Internal Review

Once the DCF decides to substantiate the allegations made against you, the clock starts ticking on your appeal. You have only 30 days to request an internal review of the findings. This review is conducted internally by DCF and will either affirm or reverse the substantiation. Don’t lose hope at this stage; investigators from DCF are allowed to rely on hearsay and subjective logic to come to their conclusions. Nevertheless, let’s say DCF upholds the substantiation. From here, you have earned the right to an administrative hearing. 

Administrative Hearing

As soon as you receive notice that DCF’s internal review has upheld the finding of substantiation, you need to request an administrative hearing. By this point, you should have an accomplished and knowledgeable family law attorney by your side to put you in the best possible position to succeed. Your attorney might even be able to negotiate a settlement with DCF. 

Regardless, you have a right to argue your case before a Hearing Officer appointed by DCF. The administrative hearing begins with arguments from DCF; fortunately, the burden of proof is on the Department to show that there was “probable cause” for DCF investigators to substantiate the abuse or neglect allegations levied against you. Next, you and your attorney will have the opportunity to present your side of the story. You are able to call witnesses and cross-examine DCF investigators at the hearing. 

The DCF administrative hearing is relaxed relative to the atmosphere of criminal proceedings, but the consequences are still very serious. Your children might be taken from you, and your professional and social reputations may be negatively impacted. Additionally, you may be placed on the Central Registry. This non-public database can still be accessed through background checks or during other investigations of child abuse or neglect. 


The effects of a DCF investigation and findings of substantiation can wreak havoc on you and your family. There is a good chance that, without a vigorous defense, your relationship with your kids will become strained. McConnell Family Law Group will do everything possible to ensure this does not happen; we will work tirelessly to get DCF to drop the allegations against you before a hearing is scheduled, or, if necessary we will assist you in mounting a vigorous defense. Our firm offers a discount on our legal services for active and retired members of law enforcement, firefighters, military service members, nurses, and teachers. We refer to this as our heroes’ discount. In all events, our team is here to assist those facing difficult family law related issues.  No matter what, we do everything possible to help you Find Peace Through Strength. Give us a call at 860-467-1719 (Hartford office); 203-344-7007 (New Canaan office); or 203-344-7762 (New Haven office) to help us guide you to a better tomorrow.

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