Even if you have nothing to hide, few things have the potential to be more intimidating than dealing with the Department of Children and Families. After all, a DCF social worker may come to your house with a police officer and demand to talk to your son or daughter.
In Florida, teachers, social workers, health care providers and others have a duty to report suspected abuse and neglect of children. Consequently, while you may have done nothing wrong as a parent, the DCF may show up at your door. If that happens, it is imperative you know your rights.
You do not have to agree to a one-on-one interview
DCF officials often ask parents if they may conduct a one-on-one interview with a child. The purpose of this interview is to get your son or daughter to provide incriminating information against you. Still, DCF employees usually have no automatic authority to conduct such an interview without your consent. That is, you must agree to allow DCF officials to talk to your child without you present.
You do not have to welcome them into your home
If DCF officials arrive at your home without a lawfully executed warrant, they have no legal authority to come into your residence. This is true even if they come with a member of law enforcement. Consequently, you must agree to permit DCF workers to walk through your front door. You may want to withhold your consent, of course, as DCF employees may find something inside your house they can use against you.
You do not have to become the victim of false allegations
When DCF officials suspect abuse or neglect, they often try to remove the child from his or her home. Frequently, those going through bitter divorces or custody battles become the victims of false allegations. Put simply, you do not have to stand idly by while your spouse or anyone else reports untrue information about you.
Ultimately, if you have any interaction with the DCF, it is advisable to seek competent legal counsel from someone who has experience with Florida’s juvenile dependency process.