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By Michael Tupper
Attorney at Law

Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) is intended to help protect the safety and well-being of children. If you’re facing a DCF investigation, it means that someone reported you to the DCF out of concern for your children’s safety.

Finding yourself caught up in a DCF investigation can be a highly emotional ordeal. The investigator who conducts the investigation will be actively working to assess whether your children should remain in your home. Following these basic tips for handling a DCF investigation can help ensure the visit goes well and the investigation comes to a successful conclusion.  

Keep Calm and Cooperate

Perhaps the most important tip for navigating a DCF investigation is to remain calm. You probably won’t learn that the DCF is investigating you until an investigator knocks on your door. It’s natural to feel angry, alarmed, or scared to hear that your parenting is being called into question. 

No one wants to deal with a DCF investigation. Unfortunately, once the ball starts rolling, you’ll need to see the process through. It’s best to accept that you have to cooperate with the investigator. Do your best to remain calm and courteous.

Ask Questions

When DCF comes to your house, your first instinct may be to wonder why. Unfortunately, the DCF doesn’t have to reveal who filed a report with them. Attempting to find out who reported you to the DCF probably won’t be productive, and you shouldn’t push if the investigator declines to answer this question. 

However, there are plenty of questions you can and should ask instead. You can ask about the reason for the visit and the concerns the DCF has about your children’s well-being. You can also ask what, if any, changes the investigator needs to see before their next visit. 

Finally, you can ask about obtaining a copy of the investigator’s report. This is usually available online 60 days from the date of the visit.

Protect Your Privacy 

While it’s important to cooperate with a DCF investigation, you also want to protect your privacy. It can be hard to know what information you are and aren’t required to give. You should know that you don’t have to give the investigator access to your children’s medical or school records or allow them to speak with your children without supervision. 

If they ask for access to your children’s records, tell them you can obtain statements from the schools and doctors stating that your children are in good standing. If they ask to speak with your children alone, tell them you’re not comfortable with that. Remain with your children during any conversations they have with a DCF investigator. 

Prepare for Follow-Up Visits

It’s unusual for a DCF investigation to involve a single visit. Even if your case is quickly dismissed, it’s reasonable to expect at least one follow-up visit before the investigation is closed. If the investigator reports concerns, you may need to prepare for multiple follow-up visits or legal proceedings.  

It can be nerve-racking to not know when a DCF investigator might show up at your home. However, the best approach is to not worry about it. Instead, do your best to ensure your home reflects a safe environment for your children. 

Consider any potential safety hazards, hygiene issues, or elements of your home that an investigator might not find fit for children. Take the time to make any necessary changes so that, hopefully, your next visit from the DCF is your last one.

Call a Family Law Attorney in Jacksonville, FL, Today

If you’re concerned about an ongoing DCF investigation, it’s a good idea to contact a Jacksonville family law attorney. A lawyer can help advise you on your rights and guide you through the investigation process. 

To learn more about getting help with a DCF investigation in Jacksonville, FL, contact Tupper Law, PA., or complete an online form to schedule a consultation with an experienced Jacksonville family law attorney.

About the Author
Michael Tupper is an experienced and skilled attorney from Jacksonville, FL, and is the driving force behind Tupper Law P.A. With an illustrious career spanning several years, he has established himself as a reliable and skilled legal advisor and representative across various disciplines. Having obtained his license to practice law in the State of Florida in 2004, Michael has consistently catered to the legal needs of Northeast Florida, encompassing Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties. His unwavering commitment to delivering timely, personalized, and proficient services reflects his dedication to providing the highest level of professional assistance.