DCF: 22-12-7

Policy Manual
Conduct of Substantiation Hearing
Substantiation hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures for contested cases pursuant to C.G.S. §§ 4-177 to 4-181a, inclusive.
NOTICE:  Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 17a-101k(i), draft Regulations related to substantiation policy are currently under review. Since this review includes entities outside of the agency, as well as the public, the final version of the Regulations may vary from this Policy. This Policy will be updated when the Regulations are finalized.
Legal reference:  P.A. 05-207.
Role of the Hearing Officer 
The Hearing Officer shall
  • conduct the substantiation hearing
  • have the power to administer oaths and affirmations
  • subpoena witnesses
  • require the production of
    • records
    • physical evidence
    • papers and documents
  • have the final authority to limit witnesses and take any other necessary actions that will facilitate the hearing process.     
Pre-Hearing Discovery 
No pre-hearing discovery shall be permitted except for the opportunity to inspect and copy relevant and material records, papers and documents.
Legal Reference:  Pet v. Dept. of Health Services, 228 Conn. 651 (1998)
Department's Investigative Record 
The department’s investigative record, including the investigation protocol, medical records and other materials used to substantiate abuse or neglect and recommend that the appellant be placed on the Central Registry shall be admitted as part of the hearing record.
The parties to the substantiation hearing may file motions before and during the hearing provided the other parties are given copies in a timely manner.  The hearing officer may continue a case to give the party receiving the motion time to respond.  The hearing officer shall rule on motions in a timely manner.  Decisions on all motions shall be part of the hearing record.
A motion to amend the substantiated allegations shall be granted by the hearing officer if filed prior to the start of a hearing.  After the start of the hearing, such motions may be granted at the discretion of the hearing officer.
A motion to sever may be filed in any case that is scheduled for two or more appellants.  The motion shall state the reasons for severance and shall be granted if the hearing officer determines that separate hearings will promote the interests of fairness or are necessary to promote the best interests of one or more of the appellants.
Post-hearing motions shall be governed by the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, Connecticut General Statutes. § 4-181a.
Cross Reference: Policy 22-12-8.
Oral or Documentary Evidence 
Any oral or documentary evidence may be received, provided
  • the hearing officer shall
    • limit or exclude any evidence which is irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious
    • recognize the rules of privilege governing confidential professional communications
  • when a hearing will be expedited and the interests of the parties will not be prejudiced substantially, any part of the evidence may be received in written form
  • documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts, if the original is not readily available, and, upon request, parties shall be given an opportunity to compare the copy with the original
  • notice may be taken of generally recognized technical or scientific facts within common knowledge or the agency’s specialized knowledge
  • parties shall be notified in a timely manner of any material noticed, including any agency memoranda or data, and they shall be afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed
  • the agency’s experience, technical compliance, and specialized knowledge may be used in the evaluation of the evidence
  • all parties and their attorneys shall be permitted to examine all records and documents introduced by the parties to the hearing 
  • a party may present evidence and argument in support of his or her position on all issues involved and cross-examine witnesses presented by the opposing party or parties.
Legal Reference: Conn. Gen. Stat. §4-178.
Recording the Hearing 
The full proceedings of substantiation hearings shall be recorded.
Burden of Proof 
The burden of proof shall be on the department.
Issue for Review 
The issue for review in the substantiation hearing shall be whether the department’s finding that the appellant is responsible for the substantiated child abuse or neglect is supported by a fair preponderance of the evidence and, if applicable, whether the department’s decision to place the appellant on the Central Registry based on the criteria set forth in Policy 34-2-8 is supported by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

Period of Review 
The hearing shall be limited to the evidence available to the parties at the time the substantiation of child abuse or neglect or Registry decision or submitted as part of the internal review.  A party may be permitted to introduce additional evidence if the hearing officer finds, after an offer of proof, that the additional evidence was not available to the party at the time the substantiation of child abuse or neglect was made or at the time of the internal review, is relevant and material to the case and the introduction of such evidence will promote the interests of fairness.

Testimony of Child 
The abused or neglected minor child who is the subject of the substantiation shall not testify in a substantiation hearing.
A minor child who is not the subject of the substantiation may be called as a witness at the discretion of the hearing officer, after the party calling the child presents an offer of  proof as to why the child’s testimony is necessary and material to the case and not duplicative of other evidence.
Connecticut Department of Children and Families    Effective Date: 01/11/07 (Revised)

Content Last Modified on 2/22/2007 9:27:52 AM