DCF is the Department of Children in Families in Massachusetts. They have been tasked with safety and wellbeing of children.
It can be frightening and confusing when DCF calls. You may be told a 51A was filed against you by a mandated reporter or someone who has concerns. You will likely not know who reported you as the reporter remains anonymous.
After they speak to you on the phone, they may decide they want to conduct an in-person interview. This interview is an investigation. An investigation is part of the 51B process. Although you want to be cooperative and may feel you have nothing to hide, it is reasonable to have an attorney present in your home with you when you are being interviewed.
Your emotions may be elevated during this time and having a calm knowledgeable person present, who knows your rights, and can take notes can be invaluable. An attorney with DCF experience will be looking to make sure the facts are properly presented, and any ambiguity is clarified.
The attorney can explain DCF policies and procedures to you and help you understand what is happening during the meeting and the next steps. If the 51B is supported, which alleged abuse and neglect, the attorney can be with you at all subsequent DCF visits and if necessary, advocate for you in court.
If DCF substantiates the 51B, you have the right to a fair hearing in which you can present evidence and call witnesses. If your attorney was present at all DCF meetings it will be easier for them to address all allegations made by DCF.