In DCF Fair Hearings, what does a Litigant need to Prove at the DCF Fair Hearing?
The parent or caretaker must show that the DCF 51A Investigators decision that was supported by reasonable cause or substantial evidence. The Fair Hearing determines whether DCF decisions or the actions that they took violated regulations or that DCF policies resulted in substantial prejudice to the Appellant; or whether DCF failed to act with a reasonable basis or reasonable manner that resulted as a substantial prejudice to the party.
The Fair Hearing will address whether there is reasonable cause to support the allegation of abuse or neglect and what reasonable cause to believe is a collection of facts, knowledge or observations which tend to support or consistent with the allegations when viewed in a light surrounding the circumstances and the credibility of the persons providing the information would lead a person to conclude that the child was abused or neglected.
Further, if the decision impacts having somebody listed as the alleged perpetrator registry, there has to be substantial evidence that the person responsible for the abuse or neglect. The parent or the Appellant must prove by “Preponderance of Evidence” that DCF’s decision to support the allegation was not made consistently with its policies or regulations and “resulted in substantial prejudice to the Appellant” or without a reasonable basis or an unreasonable manor which prejudice of the parent or the Appellant. Many times, it is easier to show that DCF broke its own regulation than to prove that DCF had no reasonable basis for its decision, but each case is separate, and you have to look at the best arguments or if you want to make both arguments.
In a Fair Hearing are you allowed to have Witnesses?
Yes. Parties have the right to subpoena witnesses for the hearing and they need to request subpoenas is writing to the DCF Fair Hearing Office at least 15 calendar days before the hearing. Child alleged victims cannot be required to testify unless there is compelling reason and if testifying would harm the child, the child would not be forced to testify.
Witnesses are subject to cross examination and are subject to pains and penalties of perjury. There can be Affidavits that are supportive at the Fair Hearing and the evidence must be material and relevant.