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How Connecticut DCF investigates educational neglect

According to the DCF Policy Manual, educational neglect occurs when a parent of a child, age seven through fifteen, interferes with the ability of the child to receiver a proper education. 

Essentially, educational neglect is when a child is not registered in school or not allowed to go to school and there is no state approved home education program in place.

Allegations of abuse or serious neglect that potentially compromise a child's physical safety naturally trigger quick action.

But DCF investigates claims of educational neglect a little differently than other types of Investigations since immediate protection of the child is not at issue.

DCF will ordinarily try to work with the family before filing a Neglect Petition in Juvenile Court.  For example, there will be referrals will refer the family to community-based services to assist the family in resolving educational issues. 

The child's age is an important factor in the assessment.  There is a presumption that a parent of a child between ages seven and eleven is fully responsible for ensuring their child's education.  This means that a parent must enroll a child and ensure the child's attendance.   A pattern of unexcused absences and educational neglect will be Substantiated. 

However, for older children, DCF will consider the possibility that the chronic absenteeism is actually truant behavior rather than parental neglect.

When a child refuses to attend school a parent or the school can file a Family With Service Needs Petition in Juvenile Court.  A judge can then monitor the child's school attendance and cooperation with any recommend services to modify the child's behavior.

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