If you have a supported decision of child abuse or neglect with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) you can appeal this decision through a DCF Fair Hearing. You must file for this Fair Hearing within 30 calendar days of receiving your support decision. The Department will schedule your Fair Hearing within 90 days of your request. The Fair Hearing is an informal setting that provides a fair opportunity to present your case. If you are unhappy with the results of the Fair Hearing, you may file an appeal with the Superior Court.
Frequently Asked DCF Fair Hearing Questions
A Fair Hearing is the ONLY place where you can reverse a supported allegation of child abuse and or neglect.
You should request a Fair Hearing when you do not think the Department should have supported the allegations of child abuse and or neglect against you. You have 30 days to request a Fair Hearing from the date on the letter stating the “supported” allegations.
To begin the Fair Hearing process, you must file a written request for a Fair Hearing with the Department’s Fair Hearing Office within 30 calendar days.
Send the request to:
DCF Fair Hearing Office
600 Washington Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Include in your letter:
- Your name
- The date the decision was made
- The name and date of birth of the child
- The name and address of the office where the decision was made
- The decision you wish to appeal (it is helpful if you include a copy of the notice DCF sent you)
You must also send a copy of your request to the director of the office where the decision was made. DCF will then contact you regarding the review process.
A DCF Fair Hearing is a chance for you to state your case and prove that the allegations of child abuse and or neglect are false. You can bring witnesses and physical evidence to help you reverse the allegations against you. You can also request the attendance of one of the DCF employees involved in the decision to testify. All testimonies are sworn in under oath as would occur in a courtroom.
Your DCF Fair Hearings will be held in the Area Offices that the supported decision came from. If it is a case of institutional abuse and or neglect such as from a childcare program, the Hearings are usually held at the DCF Central Office.
There is no a judge at a DCF Fair Hearing. The Fair Hearing is conducted as a proceeding by an impartial third party, who is the “Fair Hearing Officer”. The Fair Hearing Officer’s role is to allow a full statement of the facts. The duty of the Fair Hearing Officer is to render an impartial and fair decision at the completion of the hearing.
The Fair Hearing Officer will either support the original decision against you or they will reverse the decision. When parents win their Fair Hearing, it means the Fair Hearing Officer unsupported the allegations, which means the allegations get wiped off the parent’s record.
If you absolutely cannot make it the day of your DCF Fair Hearing, you are allowed to ask for a continuance (reschedule) of a Fair Hearing if you have “good and sufficient cause”. You must request in writing a continuance on your Hearing date at least 10 days before your Hearing date. Again, you must have good and sufficient cause for doing such. The Department does not always grant a continuance. The sooner you request a continuance the more likely it is to be granted.
The Fair Hearing Officer has 60 business days to reach a decision and notify you.
You can bring witnesses as well as family members or friends for support to the DCF Fair Hearing.
You can bring evidence that you plan to submit to the Fair Hearing Officer.
Yes. If English is not your first language, you can bring a translator with you or request that DCF provide a translator.
You should always have an attorney Kevin Seaver present with you when speaking with DCF.
Attorney Kevin Seaver will prepare you prior to your Fair Hearing by submitting evidence and testimonies on your behalf. Attorney Kevin Seaver will be present the day of the Fair Hearing to support you and ensure your rights are protected. Attorney Seaver will advocate on your behalf and question all witnesses present.
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Kevin Seaver is a trusted Massachusetts DCF Attorney specialized in DCF Law since 1991.