What is a DCF substantiation?
A substantiation is when DCF makes a formal finding of neglect and/or abuse against you. A substantiation by DCF can cause problems for you personally and professionally. The severity of the problems caused depends on DCF’s findings. A substantiation finding is made in one of two ways. The first way is a substantiation finding that does not result in placement on the central registry. In other words, this substantiation decision by DCF is kept internally within the ‘DCF only’ system. This type of substantiation decision is not publicly disclosable except under certain circumstances, and is generally only used by DCF if you were to have further contact with the department in the future.
The second type of substantiation is that which results in placement on the central registry. This finding is publicly disclosable (to appropriate recipients) and will prevent you from being able to do most volunteer opportunities (any that include children), military service, coaching, teaching, housing (if you rent and must pass a background check), working in any capacity with children or youth services, organizations, or providers. It can also impact your employment depending on your occupation, and will likely turn up on any background check for any other reason not listed here.
If the department does substantiate a child abuse or neglect allegation against you, you have the right to appeal that decision. The initial appeal includes asking DCF to reconsider its decision. If that is not successful, then you are entitled to a hearing before a hearing officer where evidence can be presented and witnesses can be called to testify. If you lose before the hearing officer, you may be able to further appeal to Superior Court under certain limited circumstances.
Given the significant consquences of a DCF substantiation, it's critical that you get the appropriate counsel and assistance as early as possible in this process. Early intervention by an experienced Connecticut lawyer can help you and your family and change the course of your case. You have the right to have a lawyer present with you any time you speak or interact with DCF, and before you provide them any information about you or your family.