It’s been a hard week and, admit it, you have not really been at your best. Or, perhaps your significant other has not been at his or her best. Either way, somebody may have done something stupid.
All you know for sure now is that you have received word that the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) wants to meet with you. Someone said something about receiving a “51a” or something and now DCF is saying they need to see if you have been neglectful.
“Neglectful???!”, you say to yourself. “Are they kidding? Look at all the things my kids have. My every thought is about my kids! Believe me, my kids are anything but neglected!”
“I don’t need to get a lawyer for this, do I?”
Unfortunately, the answer tends to be “it depends”. However, I can tell you that in the vast majority of cases, my advice is generally “Yes”.
“But I did not do anything?”
Actually, you don’t know that for sure. You see, DCF, like many government agencies, has its own definitions for all kinds of things…including what is called “neglect”.
“My kids have a roof over their heads. The place is clean.”
“They have plenty of food. They want for nothing!”
“We do not believe in corporal punishment. I mean, sure we get angry sometimes, and sometimes may yell…”
Here is the problem. Someone has made a report to DCF that your kids may be being neglected or even abused. DCF has screened the report in and begun a “51a Investigation”. Now, they have a fairly short amount of time to size the entire situation up and decide whether they can ignore your home.