As you might imagine, I hear a lot of Connecticut DCF complaints. We should remember that DCF’s policy and obligation is protect children in Connecticut. This is a critical goal which is frequently difficult and challenging. Most often, they do an excellent job. But understandably, there are times when their actions leave families disappointed, dissatisfied and even just plain angry.
There are three ways to handle a dispute with DCF:
1. There is an Ombudsman’s Office that fields complaints from families, service providers, foster parents and citizens. This may be the way to go initially – especially if there is no pending Juvenile Court involvement. Bottom line: you seek to have the matter adressed administratively.
2. File motions in Juvenile Court if there is a case pending. For example, if you have a disagreement about what DCF should be doing (i.e. offering reunification services, visitation, assessing relatives as potential placement resources) or not doing (unannounced visits, speaking to children without parent’s permission) you can request a judge to get involved to remedy the situation. Bottom line: you seek a court order.
3. Bring a lawsuit. This is reserved for those cases where their actions caused identifiable harm to a child or a family. For instance, a child injured while in foster care, violating confidentiality laws or falsifying documents. Bottom line: you seek compensation.
I have not had any directly dealings with the Ombudsman’s Office. However, I have heard from some folks that their experience was not pleasant or they were given “lip service” or that the office is virtually useless.
If you have had dealings with the Ombudsman’s Office or particular DCF Offices, I am interested to hear about it – good or bad.
Contact me online or call me in my Stamford office at (203) 356-1475 or in my Fairfield office at (203) 259-5251 to schedule your case evaluation and determine how best to handle your Connecticut DCF complaints.