There are different stages in the 51A investigation. DCF takes an intake call where there is an allegation that a child or children are suffering from abuse or neglect. The DCF screener will take the initial call, take notes and determine whether the alleged conduct qualifies as abuse or neglect and whether or not DCF would have jurisdiction. If the conduct falls within the jurisdiction of DCF, the 51A report is filed.
DCF’s next step is a screening process that starts during the intake call and they have to identify the children at risk of abuse or neglect. They must determine whether it is an emergency or non-emergency response and whether it should be screened-in or screened-out.
What then happens is that if it is screened-in then it becomes a 51B investigation. After the case is screened-in, it becomes a 51B and with that DCF either supports the 51A, or un-supports the 51A; or finds that there is a middle ground of substantiated concern.
If it is an emergency, it is supposed to commence within 2 hours of the initial conduct and be completed within 5 working days of the receipt of the report by DCF. A non-emergency must begin within 2 days of the initial contact and be completed within 15 days of the receipt.
However, even though there are those deadlines the reality of the situation is, that 51B’s often take significantly longer weeks or even months at times.