What to Do if DCYF Calls You
When there is suspected neglect or abuse of a child, anyone can call the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to report it. In fact, it’s the law in New Hampshire! It can be your former spouse, soon to be ex-spouse, friend, or even a neighbor that reports suspected abuse or neglect to DCYF. The question becomes, “What to do if DCYF calls you?”
There is no cookie cutter answer to this question. Some parents choose to cooperate fully, some choose to cooperate until they realize they are the target of the DCYF investigation, and other refuse to cooperate to any degree.
When DCYF Calls You
When the DCYF receives a call about child neglect or abuse, assuming there is enough information, the case will be assigned to a Child Protection Social Worker (CPSW). From there, an investigation will begin, and it can feel very one-sided. The tone of the investigation is typically set by the nature of the complaint, but the fact of the matter is this:
If you are contacted by DCYF:
- You need to call an attorney right away.
- Ask the CPSW for their card and ask if they wouldn’t mind you give them a call back after you consult with your attorney so they can explain the process and your rights to them.
- If the CPSW tells you that they can explain things, let them know that while you appreciate the offer, you would prefer to speak with your lawyer before you make any decisions.
- Make sure the CPSW understands that your primary concern is the safety and best interests of your child.
- Make sure you are polite and friendly to the CPSW.
If DCYF calls you, call our law office right away at (603) 261-2214!
During the investigative process, you may be asked to meet with multiple people, including a social worker, investigator, or service providers. DCYF may also ask to do a home visit and interview your child in the home, over video, or at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). Without a court order, you have no obligation to participate in their investigation. You also have no duty to let anyone from the government inside your home without a court order!
Again, if DCYF wants to interview you or your child, or even go into your home, you should feel comfortable telling them “Before I agree to anything, I am going to reach out to an attorney to explain the process and my rights to me. If you would provide me with your card, my attorney will be in contact with you.”
Some people fear that not immediately complying with all of DCYF’s requests will make them look guilty when they have done nothing wrong. For that reason, they don’t call an attorney at first and give multiple interviews. It is only when it is too late that they realize they have been a target the whole time and now are facing not only a civil child abuse and neglect petition, but also criminal charges.
Do not let yourself be bullied! If DCYF calls you, call our law office right away at (603) 261-2214!
If DCYF believes a child is in immediate danger, they will likely attempt to obtain a court order to remove them from your home without informing you. Additionally, a hearing will be held to assess if your children need alternate housing or if it is safe to return them to you.
If the complaint does not indicate that your children are in immediate danger, you will receive a call from DCYF. During this initial call, you will be asked about a variety of issues, depending on the complaint, including domestic violence and drug use. If the social worker on your case believes there is enough information to pursue the case further, an investigation will begin. However, it is also possible that they may determine there is not enough information to proceed with an investigation and the case may end there. This is exactly why you need an attorney looking out for your interests during this process.
If DCYF allows your children to remain with you, they will send an investigator to examine the environment and ask questions regarding the allegations against you. You will not know who called them. Anything you say during the investigation may be used against you as well, so it is best not to volunteer too much information before speaking to an attorney. Even statements that seem harmless may be twisted out of context.
Remember, innocent people are routinely wrongfully accused of bad conduct by the government. Do not let yourself fall victim to false accusations!
If DCYF calls you, call our law office right away and protect yourself and your family! (603) 261-2214
Speak to a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney About Your Case Today!
If DCYF reached out to you, the experienced team at Bernazzani Law can assist you. Our team has more than two decades of experience and a proven track record of success, so you can rest assured your case is in good hands with us.
Call our law office today at (603) 261-2214 to schedule a free case evaluation.