Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Much to your surpise, you find yourself in the midst of a Department of Children and Families 51A investigation. Everything is moving by quickly, you think to yourself, and you just want it to finish. Yearning to return to your normal life with the state out of hair, should you sign a DCF (formerly known as "DSS") service plan without the help of an attorney?
The simple answer is: probably not, especially if something about the service plan seems off. DCF social workers and supervisors create service plans that often implicitly target (allegedly) bad conduct on the parent or guardian's part. For instance, DCF might list a substance abuse assessment to a former alcoholic or refer an individual to anger management. While these services can be useful and helpful to families, parents and guardians deserve to know their legal rights and the possible negative consequences to signing a service plan.
A skilled, collaborative, attorney can review your service plan and give you a comprehensive assessment. If specific tasks in the service plan are disagreeable to you, an attorney can sit and advocate for you in DCF service plan meetings. Often, parents and guardians are scared of challenging DCF and sign service plans right away in hopes of keeping the peace. However, DCF can work collaboratively with families and alter service plans before parents sign. Working with an attorney who understand the process will not reflect negatively on parents and guardians, and can help you sign a service plan that you feel comfortable with.
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