DCF Fair Hearing Decisions
What is a DCF fair hearing?
Requesting a DCF fair hearing is a way to challenge certain decisions made by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). A fair hearing is an administrative appeal where the person who requested the hearing (called an appellant) may present evidence, call witnesses, and dispute the decision in front of an official employed by DCF known as a DCF fair hearing officer. After both the appellant and the DCF worker have presented their evidence at the hearing, the hearing officer can affirm, reverse, or remand the initial DCF decision. The different types of DCF decisions reviewed in fair hearings are explained below.
This website contains:
- Resources related to DCF fair hearings and
- Select DCF fair hearing decisions made in 2017, 2018, and 2020
How can I find DCF fair hearing decisions on this website that might be relevant to me?
To view all DCF fair hearing decisions of a certain type available on this website (i.e., Supported 51B decision; DCF services decision, etc.), click on the relevant type under ‘DCF Fair Hearing Decisions’ in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. If the various types of decisions are not listed on the left hand side of the screen, click on the + sign next to 'DCF Fair Hearing Decisions' to view them.
Searching DCF fair hearing decisions on this website: To search for DCF fair hearing decisions on this website with specific words or phrases in the text of the decision or in the description of the decision, enter the word or phrase in the search bar above. If you leave the "sub-category" as '-Any-' and press search it will search all DCF fair hearing decisions available on this website. To only search for DCF fair hearing decisions of a certain type, enter the word or phrase in the search box, select the specific type of decision in the drop down menu in the 'sub-category' box (i.e., Supported 51B decision; DCF services decision, etc.), and hit ‘Search.’
Filtering DCF fair hearing decisions on this website: Once you have done a search on a word or phrase, you can filter decisions using the menu that appears on the left-hand side of the screen. You can filter the decisions by:
- author (i.e., the DCF fair hearing officer who decided the case);
- date of the decision (i.e., year of the decision); or
- tags (i.e., key aspects of the case such as substance use or domestic violence) - note that if you select more than one tag it will look for decisions that have either of the tags rather than searching for decisions that contain both of the tags.
NOTE: If you want to filter by tags or fair hearing officer all of the DCF fair hearing decisions on the website or all of the fair hearing decisions of a certain type, select '-Any-' for all decisions or the decision type in the 'sub-category' box, put “matter” in the search bar, and press search. The results will include all of the DCF fair hearing decisions of whatever type you selected, which you can then filter using the options on the left.
Types of DCF fair hearing decisions
Supported 51B decisions are those in which an individual sought to dispute a DCF "support" determination after DCF investigated a report alleging child abuse or neglect (often called a 51A report or 51A).
Listing in registry of alleged perpetrators are those decisions in which an individual sought to appeal DCF’s decision to list that individual in a registry of alleged perpetrators of child abuse or neglect.
DCF services decisions are those in which an individual sought to dispute DCF’s decision to deny, reduce, suspend, or terminate services to the individual or their child. Types of services provided may include counseling, mentorship, therapy, transportation, special education resources, housing, foster care, support payments, and support for individuals interested in adoption or applying for guardianship.
Case closure decisions are those in which an individual sought to dispute DCF’s decision to close the individual’s case with DCF, which ends DCF’s involvement with the individual.
Placement refusal, change, or termination are those decisions in which an individual sought to dispute DCF’s decision to change or refuse to change the location in which a child in DCF custody resides (i.e., the child’s DCF placement). Possible placements include a kinship foster home, a non-kinship DCF foster home, a group home, or a residential home.
Foster home or pre-adoptive home decisions are those in which an individual sought to dispute DCF’s decision to (1) deny an application to become a foster parent; (2) deny an application to become a pre-adoptive parent; (3) deny, fail to renew, or terminate a foster home license; or (4) remove a child from a foster or pre-adoptive home.
Goal change at foster care review are those decisions in which an individual sought to appeal DCF’s recommendation at a foster care review to change the “permanency” goal of a child. Possible permanency goal options include reunification, adoption, guardianship, permanent care with kin, and alternative permanent planned living arrangement (APPLA).
Procedural violation ONLY are those decisions in which an individual seeks to dispute a DCF decision on the grounds that DCF violated its policies and procedures when making its decision. NOTE: This website does not currently have any DCF fair hearing decisions of this type.