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Child protection is a term that generally describes services to children who have been, or may be, suffering from abuse or neglect. In Connecticut, these services are provided by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Protective services also include programs for children "whose behavior does not conform to the law or to acceptable community standards" and families who seek assistance in keeping their children safe and healthy.1

The federal government has set standards that states must comply with in providing services to abused and neglected children and their families. These standards are embodied in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).2 Many of CAPTA's requirements concern the confidentiality of records concerning the children and families who are served by the child protection agency.

One of the principal responsibilities of DCF, as mandated by CAPTA, is to receive reports of alleged abuse and neglect of children, investigate the allegations, and work with the families to resolve the issues. Under this statutory scheme3 certain persons are identified who are required to report suspected child abuse and maltreatment under specific circumstances. These "mandatory reporting" statutes require the reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect, investigation of such reports by a social agency, and provision of services, where needed, to such child and family. For more information on Connecticut's mandated reporting laws, see What Mandated Reporters Need to Know External Link – You are leaving the CT Judicial Branch website on the website of the Department of Children and Families.

If necessary, the department will bring the case to court for resolution, which may result in maintaining the child in his or her home with protective services, placing the child in a safe and appropriate home, or legally separating the child from the family and seeking an adoptive home. See Child Protection Proceedings for more information.

A comprehensive statute4 governs access and disclosure to DCF client files. DCF clients include the children served by the department as well as their parents and others,5 whether the services are voluntarily sought or imposed by court order. See Access to DCF Client Files.



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