When a member of your staff suspects that a child is being abused and/or neglected, they are required to immediately call your local Department of Children and Families (DCF) Area Office and ask for the Screening Unit. You can find a directory of the DCF Area Offices and a copy of the 51A report form on the Department of Children and Families (DCF) website. These offices are staffed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. To make a report at any other time, including after 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, call the Child-At-Risk Hotline at 800-792-5200. Reporters are also required by law to mail or fax a written report to DCF (51A report form) within 48 hours after making the verbal report.
The DCF Protective Intake Policy is divided into two phases: (1) the screening of all reports; and (2) a response to any report that is screened in. All screened-in reports are now investigated. In our chart, What Happens When DCF Receives a 51A Report?, you’ll find a detailed description of what happens when a report is made to DCF, and a description of the investigative process, and its timelines and steps.
Information You’ll Need When Calling
When the call is made, and the 51A form is filled out, the reporter should be prepared to provide the following information, if known:
- Your name, address, and telephone number, and your relationship (if any) to the child/youth.
- All identifying information you have about the child/youth and the parent or other caregiver, and information about other children/youth in the household, if known.
- The nature and extent of the suspected abuse and/or neglect, and/or human trafficking/sexual exploitation or labor, including any evidence or knowledge of prior injury, abuse, maltreatment, or neglect.
- The identity of the person(s) you believe is/are responsible for the abuse and/ or neglect.
- The circumstances under which you first became aware of the child’s/youth’s injuries, abuse, maltreatment or neglect, and/or human trafficking/sexual exploitation or labor.
- What action, if any, has been taken thus far to treat, shelter, or otherwise assist the child/youth.
- The child’s/youth’s visibility within the community (e.g., child care, school attendance, etc.).
- Emergency contact information for the child/youth being reported, and languages spoken in the household.
- Any concerns about alcohol, drug use, or misuse by the parent/caregiver.
- Any other information you believe might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury and/or person(s) responsible, and any concerns you have for social worker safety.
- Any information that could be helpful to DCF staff in making safe contact with an adult victim in situations of domestic violence (such as work schedules, place of employment, daily routines).
- Any other information you believe would be helpful in ensuring the child’s/youth’s safety and/or supporting the family to address the abuse and/or neglect concerns (other contributing or high-risk factors, the family’s strengths and capacities, etc.).
If you do not have all this information, do not let this keep you from filing. File with what information you do have and let the professionals make their determinations.
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