DCF’s New Integrated Casework Practice Model

In the past year or so, the Department of Children and Families rolled out a new model for how the agency handles 51A’s. It’s called the Integrated Casework Practice Model. While the jury is still out on whether it is going to achieve it stated purposes (see below), what seems clear to me is that DCF has a lot more flexibility in responding to 51As than it did before. For example, instead of routinely “screening in” 51As when the call comes in, now DCF has up to three days to decide whether to screen a 51A in. Equally as important, now DCF doesn’t necessarily have to conduct a 51B investigation once a 51A is screened in but instead can do an “initial assessment” (IA) in order to determine whether a “comprehensive assessment” is necessary.

While these changes are certainly welcome, parents still need to be extremely concerned about having a 51A filed against them and having DCF coming to their home or to their children’s schools. Make no mistake, even if DCF calls it an “initial assessment,” it is still “investigating” the circumstances of the 51A and once they are in your home, anything can happen. That is, everything is on the table, not just the allegations of the 51A, but how the family is functioning overall, whether the children are at risk generally and whether the family needs services.

One major concern with the new model is that if the Department recommends keeping the case open and putting the family on a “service plan,” they can be involved in the family’s life indefinitely. Parents need to know that they can refuse services, but they also better understand the risks in denying services. Again, it is vital to engage a lawyer right away…

Here is a summary (taken from the DCF website) of the new Integrated Casework Practice Model:

The Integrated Casework Practice Model is designed to:

_ Stabilize families so that children can safely remain at home;
_ Reduce repeat maltreatment of children; and
_ Effectively target DCF resources to meet the needs of families requiring DCF services.

What is DCF

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What You Say to a Social Worker Can and Will Be Used Against You!

The worlds of criminal law and DCF law often collide when children are involved and result in both criminal charges and supported 51As and assessments.  Take, for example, the case I mentioned in my first post about the war veteran and high-level technician working in emergency rooms.  Struggling to get a handle on why his fiance\’s son was getting into trouble at school (relatively small stuff but concerning nonetheless), he asks the vice-principal for help immediately after a school play on a Friday.  That week the boy had gotten into trouble for the third or so time.  But all the vice-principal had to offer was “Learn to pick your battles.” Continue reading

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Let’s Define Some Key Terms

For those parents or guardians (or daycare providers or foster parents) out there who are or have been the subject of a 51A report alleging abuse or neglect, it is critical for you to understand a few key terms and how they may apply in your situation.  In my last post, I started providing examples of cases that I have recently handled.  I will provide some additional case summaries shortly, but before I do I think a quick crash course in DCF Regulations is in order.  Therefore, I am providing definitions straight from the DCF Regulations (110 CMR) for the following critical terms: (1) Caretaker; (2) Abuse; and (3) Neglect:

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First Things First

What every parent needs to know and what many have already found out is this: it doesn’t matter how much money you have (or don’t have) or what town you live in, or where you went to school or what school your child goes to or what pediatrician you use.  What I have observed, in over 14 years of representing parents (and children) in DSS / DCF related cases (investigations, Care and Protection and CHINS cases, Fair Hearings etc.), is that EVERY PARENT is now suspectible to getting a 51A filed against them.  No parent or guardian (or for that matter, foster parent or day care provider) seems to be off limits to a DCF investigation.

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Welcome to the Ianiri Law blog, the best place to obtain crucial, up to the minute information about the Department of Children and Families (DCF) (formerly the Department of Social Services, or DSS) and what to do if you find yourself the target of a DCF investigation or if your child or children are removed from your home.

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