How are DCFS and the court involved in CINC cases?
Court Process & Legal Rights Guide For Foster Caregivers | Table of Contents
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
DCFS is the State agency responsible for receiving and investigating reports of child abuse and neglect; securing services and supports to protect children and prevent them from being removed from their home; initiating court proceedings to remove children from their home if necessary to keep them safe; providing foster care when the court finds it is necessary to protect a child; and, providing services and supports to the family so that the child can return home or, if necessary, placing the child in another safe and permanent home.
Custody of the Child
When someone contacts DCFS to report abuse or neglect of a child, an investigation to determine the report’s validity begins, along with an assessment of family functioning, safety, and risk. If it is determined that the child cannot remain safely in his/her home, the court will decide whether the child will be placed in the provisional custody of a suitable relative or individual/fictive kin or the State through DCFS. If the court places the child in the custody of DCFS, DCFS will choose a suitable relative or individual/fictive kin, a certified foster parent, or a suitable licensed facility to care for the child until the case is resolved or dismissed by the court or law. Per DCFS Policy , DCFS partners with parents to identify and locate relatives within 10 days, and no later than 30 days, from the child’s entry into foster care and on an on-going basis as other relatives are identified.
For a child to remain in DCFS custody (i.e., foster care), court hearings must be held and a judge must determine if the child is a “Child in Need of Care.” These grounds can be found in Louisiana Children’s Code Articles and but generally involve abuse or neglect. In such cases, DCFS and courts have the responsibility of assisting parents in addressing the safety issues that led to the removal of the child and reunifying the child with his/her parents or finding another permanent and safe home for the child if reunification is not possible. To ensure due process for parents and children, the law mandates the types of court hearings that must be held, their purposes, who can attend, and timeframes.
CINC cases are not heard before a jury but only before a judge. Information about the family is presented to the judge at the CINC hearings. Judges make the final decision as to whether a child will be removed from their parents’ custody or returned once they have been removed. If a child is removed from their parents’ custody, judges decide who to grant custody of the child to (i.e., DCFS, suitable relative or individual, etc.) and for how long. Judges are required to make very difficult decisions that can have a huge impact on the lives of children and families in these cases.
Request Public Records
March 26 Update:
On March 24, , Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation, amending the State of Emergency amid the COVID pandemic. This amendment covers changes to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and Public Records Act (PRA).
- Temporarily prohibits in-person contacts with the public that are required by OPMA (RCW ) and the PRA (RCW ), suspending some statutory language that would require such contacts.
- Temporarily suspends the PRA’s requirements for agencies to respond to PRA requests for public records within five business days from receipt and to maintain business hours for public inspection and copying of records for a minimum of 30 hours per week.
As a result, DCYF is temporality suspending ALL in-person Public Records Act business until midnight, April 23, , unless extended beyond that date.
We will continue to use the following alternative means to be accessible to the public:
- DCYF Public Disclosure website.
- By Phone:
- US Mail: P.O. Box , Olympia, WA
- Email: [email protected]
- Other communication that does not require in-person contact such as text messaging.
The Department of Children, Youth and Families provides records as required by state law (RCW ).
DCYF believes in the importance of the public’s right to know about its operations and activities. Many public documents are available on the DCYF website and may be located by using the search function on the site.
If you do not find the information you seek on the website, or if you are seeking client records, you may make a public records request. You may use the Request for Records form or send your request to:
DCYF Public Records Officer
Intake Phone: ()
Email: [email protected]
DCYF rules about processing public records requests are located in chapter WAC.
How to Request a Copy of Public Records
You may make a public disclosure request to any office of DCYF. You should ask to contact the Public Records Coordinator appointed for that office. If you don’t know which office has the records you seek or are seeking records from different parts of DCYF, you can send your request to the Public Records Officer:
DCYF Public Records Officer
Intake Phone: () or
Email: [email protected]
If your request includes a list of individuals please complete the Declaration on Commercial Purposes form certifying the list will not be used for commercial purposes.
Confidential and Exempt Records: State and federal law exempt some DCYF records from disclosure because they contain client information. By law, DCYF may not disclose these records outside DCYF or its authorized partners with limited exceptions. Certain types of personal information about DCYF employees is also confidential.
If you are requesting confidential records about someone other than yourself, you must have that person’s permission to obtain those records. You can use the DCYF Authorization form or another form that complies with state and federal laws to allow you to see or obtain copies of those records. If you are a client and want someone to have copies of your records, you may fill out this form. Attorneys, please note that a subpoena is generally not sufficient to obtain DCYF client records. If you do not have permission or other legal authority to have confidential records, DCYF will deny your request for records.
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DCF Public Records Requests
The Vermont General Assembly established guidelines to facilitate access to public records. Any document produced or acquired in the course of doing state business is a public record and may be subject to public disclosure, unless specifically exempted by law.
Records Exempt from Disclosure
While the Department for Children and Families strongly favors access to public documents and records, exceptions to that general policy of disclosure are listed in 1 V.S.A. § (c).
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Documents that are confidential by law (e.g., adoption and foster care records)
- Documents containing certain types of personal or financial information about individuals
- Documents recognized as being privileged
- Document that by law may only be disclosed to specifically designated persons
- Documents relevant to active litigation
- The names of, or information pertaining to, individuals involved with the department (e.g., whether an individual is getting or has ever received economic benefits through the department)
Below are contacts for certain kinds of records.
- Child protection agencies from other states: if you're seeking a family's records, contact Patricia Casanova, Deputy Compact Administrator, ()
- Foster care records: For copies of your records while in foster care, contact the Family Services District Office your family was involved with
- Records of adoptions finalized in VT: Call the Vermont Adoption Registry at ()
Fees for Obtaining a Copy of a Public Record
DCF will charge fees for the actual cost of providing a copy of a public record in accordance with the rule adopted by the Secretary of State, as set forth below.
- Staff time involved in physically duplicating a record: $ per minute after the first 30 minutes
- Senior-level staff time and IT specialists’ time spent extracting data from databases or performing similar tasks necessary to comply with a request to create a new public record: $ per minute
- Other staff time for which cost can be charged and collected under this section: $ per minute
- Photocopies: $ per single-sided page, $ per double-sided page for pages up to by 14 inches
- Color photocopies: $ per single-sided page
- Computer-generated paper copies: $ per page for pages up to by 14 inches
- Computer diskettes: $ each for inch diskettes
- Compact discs: $ each for write-once CD w/case, $ each for re-writable CD w/case
- Audio tapes: $ each
- Video tapes: $ each
- DVDs: $ each for write-once DVD w/case, $ each for re-writable DVD w/case
*Note: there are fees for copies of public records that are established by statute that may override the fees established by this schedule.
Requesting a Public Record
Please put your request in writing and email it to Pam Dalley.
If email is not an option, you may mail your request to:
Public Records Requests
Department for Children and Families - Commissioner's Office
State Drive, HC1 North
DCF will respond to your request within three business days of receiving it unless there are unusual circumstances and the three day period may be extended in accordance with 1 V.S.A. § Unusual circumstances may result in an extension, upon written notice, of up to ten (10) business days from receipt of your request.
If you believe you were wrongly denied a request for public records, you may write to:
For More Information
- Click here to visit the Vermont Secretary of State's website.
- Click here to read the Agency of Human Services' Public Records Request Policy.
- Click here to read the statute (1 V.S.A. § ).
The following sub-sections outline additional considerations of the law:
§ Definitions; public agency; public records and documents
§ a. Disposition of public records
Statewide Public Records Requests
All records maintained by the Department of Children and Families are confidential and may only be disclosed with the consent of the individual who is the subject of the records or as authorized by the statute.1 Disclosure of information without consent of the individual is permitted, and in some cases, mandated by law, under certain circumstances.
WHAT INFORMATION IS PROTECTED?
- records created or obtained in connection with DCF's child protection activities or other activities related to a child while in the care or custody of DCF;
- information in the Central Registry of confirmed victims of child abuse and/or neglect;3
Note that "other activities related to a child while in the care or custody of DCF" includes voluntary services and the post-adjudication custody of juveniles who have been convicted as delinquent and committed to the custody of DCF. See Juvenile Justice Records. Records held by DCF concerning these juveniles are protected according to the provisions discussed in this section.
Records can be requested from the Legal Division of DCF.
HOW IS DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION FROM DCF RECORDS AUTHORIZED BY A PARENT OR CHILD?
A parent can consent in writing to the release of information from their DCF records. An emancipated child or youth age eighteen or older can also provide written consent, as can an attorney or authorized representative of the DCF client.
Clients generally consent by signing an authorization to release information from these records. Consent for disclosure of DCF records is limited to specified information within a limited time period to specifically identified individuals.
Consent requirements may vary depending on the type of record and the purpose for which it may be used. See Consent for more information.
WHEN CAN INFORMATION FROM DCF RECORDS BE DISCLOSED WITHOUT CONSENT
- A person named in the record
A person name in the record, other than the subject of the record, may obtain information under two circumstances:
The information is about that person or that person’s biological or adoptive minor child, if the person's parental rights to the child have not been terminated.
The information identifies an individual who reported abuse or neglect of the person and a court determines that there is reasonable cause to believe the reporter knowingly made a false report or that the interests of justice require disclosure.
- DCF employees
All employees have access to records for any purpose reasonably related to the performance of their duties.
- Individuals representing the child or department
These include a guardian ad litem or attorney appointed to represent a child in litigation affecting the best interests of the child or youth, the attorney general while representing the department, the Child Advocate, and the office of the Chief Public Defender.
- Law enforcement
Records must be disclosed to a state’s attorney or a state or federal law enforcement officer for purposes of investigating and prosecuting an allegation related to child abuse or neglect. If the child is not being charged with an offense related to child abuse, but is charged with the commission of a delinquent act, the state’s attorney must obtain a release and may only have access during the prosecution of the delinquency case.
- Foster or prospective adoptive parents
The department must disclose records pertaining to a child currently placed with the foster or prospective adoptive parent or being considered for placement that are necessary to address the social, medical, psychological or educational needs of the child or youth, provided no information identifying a biological parent is disclosed without the permission of the biological parent.
A judge or employee of a probate court may obtain information necessary to perform official duties of the court.
A judge of the Superior Court may obtain records when needed to determine the appropriate disposition of a child convicted as delinquent or a child who is a member of a family with service needs.
The department must release records in response to a court order or a subpoena for purposes of a review by a judge of the Superior Court in a criminal prosecution.
In a Superior Court concerning domestic violence involving the child or parent DCF records must be released to the judge and all necessary parties.
- School officials
A local or regional board of education may have access to educational records created or obtained by the state or DCF.
The superintendent or executive director of a school must be notified when DCF receives a report that implicates an employee of the school in an allegation of abuse or neglect of a child.
- Other state agencies
Several state agencies have access to DCF records for purposes limited by the statute to information needed for the agency to perform its responsibilities towards children.
DCF has discretion to release information to certain individuals or agencies without a client’s consent if it is determined to be in the client's best interest. These individuals and agencies include:
- DCF employees
An employee or former employee of the department may obtain records that are necessary to an administrative or disciplinary proceeding.
- Multidisciplinary teams
Multidisciplinary teams are organized by the Commissioner of DCF in conjunction with law enforcement agencies to review particular cases or coordinate the prevention, intervention and treatment in cases of child abuse. DCF may disclose records necessary to the work of the team.
- Service providers
The department may disclose information it deems necessary for the provision of services or for identifying and assessing a potential foster or adoptive home for a child or youth.
- Other agencies
Information may be disclosed to Connecticut’s Department of Social Services or to a court or public in another jurisdiction for purposes of providing services to children and families.
- Health Care Professionals
Information may be disclosed to a physician examining a child with respect to whom abuse or neglect is suspected when the physician requires the information to determine whether to keep the child in protective custody.
Information may be disclosed to an individual or organization who is treating an individual who has either perpetrated abuse or neglect or is unwilling or unable to protect a child or youth from abuse or neglect when the commissioner determines that the disclosure is necessary to accomplish the objectives of diagnosis or treatment.
Information may be disclosed to the individual who made a report of abuse or neglect, limited to the status of the investigation and the general type of action taken by the department.
Information that does not identify the individual may be disclosed for purposes of bona fide research.
- Fee collection agencies
Limited information may be disclosed to an individual or agency involved in the collection of fees for services.
- Law enforcement
If there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected or at risk of being abused or neglected as a result of any suspected criminal activity, the department may disclose necessary information to law enforcement agencies.
- Person(s) part of the investigation
Any individual interviewed as part of an investigation may receive information limited to the general nature of the allegations contained in the reports, the identity of the child, and information necessary to effectively conduct the investigation.
- Public reports
When information concerning an incident of child abuse or neglect has been made public or is likely to become public, the department may disclose information limited to whether the department has received any report and a general description of action taken by the department and the legal status of the case, provided that no individuals are identified.
- To help with missing persons
Limited information may be disclosed to any individual for the purpose of locating that person’s missing parent or child.
General information may be disclosed concerning an incident of abuse or neglect that resulted in a child fatality or near fatality, as long as it does not jeopardize a pending investigation.
- In court
Records may be disclosed to a court of competent jurisdiction whenever an employee of the department is subpoenaed and ordered to testify about such records.
- DCF contractor
DCF may provide information to an individual who is not employed by the department who arranges, performs or assists in performing functions or activities on behalf of the department, including, but not limited to, data analysis, processing or administration, utilization reviews, quality assurance, practice management, consultation, data aggregation and accreditation services.
The department may disclose records without the consent of the person who is the subject of the record to the individuals listed below under certain circumstances.5
The department may, however, refuse to disclose the records, if it notifies the individual seeking the information of the reasons for its refusal. The person may then petition the court for release of the information.6
Cases record dcfs are public
Reports/records are only available to certain individuals due to confidentiality laws. IC (http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title31/ar33/chhtml) lays out the exact details who may have access, here are some of those individuals:
(7) An individual named in the report or record who is alleged to be abused or neglected or, if the individual named in the report is a child or is otherwise incompetent, the individual's guardian ad litem or the individual's court appointed special advocate, or both.
(8) Each parent, guardian, custodian, or other person responsible for the welfare of a child named in a report or record and an attorney of the person described under this subdivision, with protection for the identity of reporters and other appropriate individuals.
(14) A person about whom a report has been made, with protection for the identity of:
(A) any person reporting known or suspected child abuse or neglect; and
(B) any other person if the person or agency making the information available finds thatdisclosure of the information would be likely to endanger the life or safety of theother person.
For information about Child Welfare and Child Protection Services, contact the local Department of Child Services office in the county in which you live. http://www.in.gov/dcs/htm
Requesting DCFS Records
Requesting Records from the Illinois Department of Family Services
Title 89, section et. al. of the Illinois Administrative code references who has access to DCFS records, to whom DCFS may disclose personal information without prior consent, and under what conditions access to records will be granted or denied by DCFS.
Under Section , DCFS shall maintain a record on all persons for whom a child abuse or neglect report has been indicated, unfounded or for whom a decision about the report has not yet been made. Retention schedule timelines vary based on the seriousness of the allegations. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, allegations involving cuts, bruises, welts, abrasions and oral injuries may be retained for 20 years. Unfounded allegations may be retained anywhere from three years to 30 days depending on the severity of the allegation. All retained records are of a confidential nature and shall not be available to the general public except as provided for in Section
Under Section (a) a parent whose parental rights have not been terminated or a guardian of the person of a minor shall have full access to the personal information contained in the records of said minor, unless access is prohibited specifically or otherwise restricted by that section. DCFS has to provide access to the records within 10 working days of the receipt of the request, if practicable. If the material cannot be easily identifiable or assembled, DCFS will provide the records within a reasonable time. Although the identity of mandated reporters is usually excised, it is usually not difficult to determine who made the report from the context of the excised name.
Under Section , subjects of reports of suspected abuse or neglect are allowed access to the child abuse/neglect investigative records which have been indicated or unfounded. Keep in mind that none of this information will be released during the pendency of an investigation before DCFS has determined whether the report is indicated or unfounded, except as allowed in Section of 89 Ill. Admin. Code (Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect) or for purposes of a fair hearing requested prior to a final determination. Subjects of reports of suspected abuse or neglect are allowed access to the child abuse/neglect investigative records that have been unfounded, provided the subject requests the report within 60 days after receipt of notification that the report was unfounded; or the filed are retained as evidence of false reporting.
Under Section , the DCFS director or designee may disclose to the public certain information regarding the abuse or neglect of a child if he determines that such disclosure is not contrary to the best interests of the child, the childs siblings, or other children in the household, provided that:
- The subject of the report has been criminally charged with committing a crime related to the child abuse or neglect report;
- A law enforcement agency or official, States Attorney, or a judge of the State court system has publicly disclosed in a report information regarding the investigation;
- An adult subject of the report has knowingly and voluntarily made a public disclosure concerning a Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System report; or
- The child named in the report has been critically injured or has died.
Freedom of Information
DCFS information can be requested via a FOIA request. A written request should be addressed as follows:
DCFS Office of Communications
JRTC, 6th Floor
W. Randolph Street
Or, requests may be faxed to: All FOIA requests are to be awarded within days of receipt. If more time is needed, DCFS must request it in writing.
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Investigative File Request
Any person who was an alleged offender in a child maltreatment investigation can request a copy of the investigation file after the investigation has concluded whether the determination was substantiated or unsubstantiated.
Note: The investigation file must be redacted to remove the reporters information. By law, our agency is unable to release the name of the person who made the report to the hotline.
Who else can request a copy of the investigation file?
- Alleged offender
- Law enforcement
- Attorneys representing the alleged offender or alleged victim
- Prosecuting attorneys
- Parents of juvenile who were the alleged victim or alleged juvenile offender (Note: parents of alleged victims cannot receive a copy of the investigation file until due process has occurred)
Is there a fee?
A non-refundable processing fee of $, by check or money order (no cash or temporary checks) must be submitted with each request. The check or money order should be made payable to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
How to submit a request?
To request a copy of the investigation file, please complete the Investigation File Request form here (https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/Investigation-File-Request-Form.pdf). This form must be notarized. Mail the notarized form including a $10 check or money order to:
DCFS Release of Information Unit
P O Box , Slot S
Little Rock AR
How will the file be sent to me?
On the Investigation File Request Form, you have the option to have a copy of the file emailed or mailed. Be sure to mark if you want the form emailed or mailed. (Note: If the investigation file includes DVDs or CDs, these items will have to be mailed to you)
Out-of-State Records Request
If you are an out-of-state child welfare or law enforcement agency and needed to request investigation records from an individual who has lived in Arkansas, please email this request on your agencys letterhead to [email protected].gov.
Case File RequestIN-HOME AND FOSTER CARE CASE RECORDS
Reports, correspondence, memoranda, case histories, or other materials related to protective services and foster care records, shall be confidential and shall not be released or otherwise made available, except to the extent permitted by federal and state law and only as listed below. This includes protected health information compiled or received by a licensee or state agency engaged in placing a child.
- To the childs parent, guardian, or custodian;
- However, the licensee or state agency may redact information from the record such as the name or address of foster parents or providers when it is in the best interest of the child.
- The licensee or state agency shall redact counseling records, psychological or psychiatric evaluations, examinations or records, drug screens or drug.
- To the child;
- to health care providers to assist in the care and treatment of the child at the discretion of the licensee or state agency and if deemed to be in the best interest of the child;
- Health care providers include doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, counselors, therapists, mental health professionals, and dentists.
- To school personnel and child care centers caring for the child at the discretion of the licensee or state agency and if deemed to be in the best interest of the child;
- To foster parents, the foster care record for children in foster care currently placed in their home;
- However, information contained in records released by the Department to the foster parent about the parents or guardians and any sibling not in the foster home will not be re-disclosed by the foster parent and will only be sued to assist the foster parent in the care of the child placed in the foster parents home (see Policy VII-H: Providing Information to Foster Parents).
- Upon presentation of an order of appointment, to a court-appointed special advocate;
- to the attorney ad litem for the child;
- For law enforcement or the prosecuting attorney upon request;
- to circuit courts, as provided for in the Arkansas Juvenile Code of , § et seq;
- In a criminal or civil proceeding conducted in connection with the administration of any such plan or program;
- Others-see POLICY I-E: CONFIDENTIALITY https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/Master_DCFS_Policy.pdf
How long are records kept?
All child protective services, differential response, out-of-home placement (foster care) services, and supportive services are retained for five (5) years after the youngest child turns 21 years old.
DCFS is required to keep case files until the youngest child in the case is 26 years old.
How to submit a request?
Legal Subpoenas should be submitted to the DHS Privacy office at:
To request a copy of the case file, please complete the Case File Request form here (https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/Case-File-Request-Form.pdf). This form must be notarized.
Email request: [email protected]
DCFS Release of Information Unit
P O Box , Slot S
Little Rock AR
How will the file be sent to me?
If requesting records via a subpoena through the DHS Privacy Office, records will be returned electronically.
If requesting records on the Case File Request Form, you have the option to have a copy of the file emailed or mailed.
What about adoption records?
Adoption cases are sealed and DCFS is not allowed to release adoption files unless specifically court-ordered to do so. For more information on adoption records please see https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/divisions-shared-services/children-family-services/frequently-asked-questions/#mcvar