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Connecticut DCF: should a parent sign a release?

When Connecticut DCF comes calling, they always have plenty of Releases of Information and other Authorizations handy.  As part of most DCF Investigations, they are looking for records from the pediatrician, the school(s) and any service providers like a therapists or counselors.  They usually want to talk to all these folks too.

Should a parent sign a Release?

This is a common question.  Unfortunately, it is also a loaded question.

For starters, a parent is not required to sign a Release or Authorization of any kind.  Now a social worker may tell you differently.  Or you may be told that it's routine or standard procedure. 

But look at this way - if the social worker was absolutely entitled to the information they wouldn't ask you to sign something.  They would simply go and get it. 

When a parent signs one of these documents they are allowing a social worker to obtain otherwise confidentially protected information.

As a lawyer, I think the two principal ways DCF builds a case are when a parent talks too much and when they sign too much.

So when it comes to Releases parents should consider the following:

1. Speak to a lawyer first.  An Investigation has to be completed within 45 days.  There's plenty of time - don't believe otherwise.

2. Does the request fit what DCF is actually investigating?  Never allow a social or worker to go "fishing."  At least not on state time.

3. The Release can be limited in scope and duration.  Tailor it for your particular situation.

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