In Massachusetts DCF Cases, what does Dual Omissions Mean?
DCF is tasked with protecting children from neglect, abuse and promoting family stability. Sometimes, the Dual Omissions can end up being in conflict and the idea in terms of looking at both respecting the rights of families to be free from state intervention versus trying to protect children. You will see sometimes DCF gets involved with cases that they really have little or no business being involved with and they seem to be taking more of the safety approach; even though that means more state intervention.
There are other aspects where if DCF does a removal of a child; where DCF is supposed to work towards the goal of reunification and that is always supposed to be a goal even at their permanency planning conference and in Court, they are trying to terminate parental rights. Sometimes DCF has dual goals and even though they are supposed to be saying that they are going to reunify a family, they are saying that in form only and other times they really are looking to do that. It is important to discuss with your attorney what DCF’s real goal is and how you might be able to change DCF’s real goal.
In DCF Cases, what is an Intake Call?
The investigation with DCF begins with a DCF investigator accepting a call from either a mandated or non-mandated reporter and taking notes on the allegation of neglect or abuse. The intake process is followed by the CMR 110 4.2; which requires the intake provider make an initial assessment of whether the alleged conduct is abuse or neglect.
What happens if the Intake Investigator determines that the Reporter is describing what DCF would determine to be neglect or abuse.
What happens then is something called a “51A” is filed. The next step is determining whether the allegation should be “Screen-In” or “Screened-Out.” If it is screened-out there is no further investigation. If it is screened-in, then DCF determines whether an emergency exists and/or if the child remains at risk of neglect or abuse from a caretaker. The screening process is under 110 CMR 4.21.