What is a MA DCF Home Visit?

A Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) home visit is when the MA DCF social worker assigned to investigate your case comes to your home to inspect it.

Who conducts MA DCF Home Visits?

MA DCF home visits are conducted by the social worker assigned to investigate your case, commonly known as a 51B investigator.

Can MA DCF just show up unannounced for a home visit?

MA DCF can most definitely show up unannounced to homes for home visits. But the Department is not allowed to enter your home when you refuse to let them. This means when you can decide that.

MA DCF Home Visit
MA DCF Home Visit

Should you allow MA DCF to enter your home for a home visit? 

Allowing a 51B investigator to enter your home will help in building good will with the Department. You will work directly with that investigator for some time, so it is worth measuring whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of allowing the 51B investigator into your home. Most importantly, you need to think about what the social worker will find in your home. If you have nothing to hide and your home is in good repair you may want to allow them access to inspect your home. Not allowing MA DCF access to their homes, the caseworker may think you are being difficult and are attempting to impede their investigation. This may indeed be true but your home is your castle and MA DCF is the government. Your rights protect you from all government intrusion. When you deny MA DCF access to your home, a MA DCF investigator might believe that your child is in immediate danger. As a result, MA DCF may seek a Judge to grant them an order to enter your home to remove your children. The only time the Department can remove your child is with permission from a judge to sign this order. When they get this order, they will enter your home against your wishes, but inspection cannot be done, however. All that is allowed is a quick removal of your child into MA DCF’s temporary care. A court order would need to be sought immediately to allow them to keep custody of your child.

What does MA DCF look for in a home visit?

Though there is no official “DCF home visit checklist”, parents should know that the purpose of the home visit is to determine all red flags or potential harms to your child’s safety, health and well-being. These red flags include chemicals, illegal substances, open medications, sharp edges (e.g. the house is not baby proofed when there is a baby living in the home). Also large windows with no protective screens which children can fall out of. MA DCF is also looking to make sure there is enough food in the fridge, there are no dirty clothes in sight, all the medicine is locked away, all cabinets have locks on them, windows, and doors, and the bedrooms of the children are safe for them to play and sleep in. It is crucial to understand that during a home visit, MA DCF is looking for evidence against you. The social worker may want to photograph the interior of your home during their visit. Parents are advised to follow behind and take their own photographs.

Is MA DCF allowed to photograph the inside of your home?

When you allow a social worker from the Department into your home, expect that he or she wants to take pictures of the conditions of the home in order to document everything to show to their superiors. You should follow the social worker and take your own pictures to make sure nothing is being misrepresented. You should also request for copies of the pictures taken by DCF in writing. Request also the date of the inspection. Piles of dirty clothes, broken appliances, animal feces, drug paraphernalia and weapons within reach of children will be photographed. These items assuredly will lead to a supported allegation against you.

MA DCF Home Visit
MA DCF Home Visit

The benefit of you being at home is that you can deny the social worker permission to take photographs. If you have a teenage child, keep in mind that they are probably old enough to give consent to the DCF employee to enter your home. They can also give consent for photographs to be taken. Remember, when you give DCF permission to photograph your child in relation to the investigation. Any injuries like bruising or cuts will be documented in that manner. These photos are never to be done of a child’s private parts. The only exception is unless the purpose is to document diaper rash in infants and toddlers. Be aware that child’s sex will determine if a man or a woman CPS employee takes the photographs.

 Kevin Seaver is a trusted MA DCF Attorney Specializing in DCF Law since 1991. 

disclaimer

You find yourself in this situation, it’s advisable to seek legal representation from a qualified attorney, like those at the Law Office of Kevin Seaver, who can advocate for your rights and guide you through the complex process of a DCF investigation.

Remember that the ultimate goal of DCF is to ensure the safety and well-being of children while supporting families in crisis.

Please note that this article does not create an Attorney-Client relationship between our law firm and the reader and is provided for informational purposes only. Information in this article does not apply to all readers.

Readers should not rely on this information as legal advice and should seek specific counsel from the attorney based on personal circumstances. Thank you.

Kevin Patrick Seaver is a Massachusetts DCF Defense Lawyer who represents parents against false child abuse allegations.

Massachusetts DCF Defense Lawyer Kevin Seaver has been successfully fighting false child abuse allegations since 1991.