MGL c.119 Protection of Children
MGL c.119, s.21 Mandated Reporters defined
MGL c.119, s.51A Mandated Reporting explained
An Act Protecting Children in the Commonwealth. Provides extensive changes to child protection laws in Massachusetts, including renaming the Department of Social Services the Department of Children and Families, and creating a powerful new Office of Child Advocate within the Governor's office.
110 CMR Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS)
Comm. v. Dorvil , 472 Mass. 1 (2015). Spanking. The court recognized a parent's right to use force in disciplining a child, "provided that the force used against the minor child is reasonable; that the force is reasonably related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the prevention or punishment of the minor's misconduct; and that the force used neither causes nor creates a substantial risk of causing physical harm (beyond fleeting pain or minor, transient marks), gross degradation, or severe mental distress."
Comm. v. Millien
, 474 Mass. 417 (2016)
Extensive discussion of "shaken baby syndrome." There is a heated debate in the medical community as to whether a violent shaking of a baby alone can generate enough force to cause the triad of symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and as to whether these symptoms can sometimes be caused by a short accidental fall....where the prosecution's case rested almost entirely on medical expert testimony, the defendant was denied his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel because, by not providing the jury with the other side of this debate, his attorney's poor performance "likely deprived the defendant of an otherwise available, substantial ground of defence."
Abuse and Neglect: Your Rights and DCF
, Mass. Legal Help
A great overview of your rights when the department gets involved with your family. Answers these questions:
- Who filed the report and can I read it?
- Do I have to talk to the social worker?
- What happens after the 51A investigation is complete?
- What is a service plan?
The Answer Book file size 1MB, Court Improvement Program, 2016
Great resource for children in foster care. Includes information on education, jobs, housing, health care and more.
Care and Protection Cases
, Children's Law Center
A basic guide to the steps in a care and protection case, from reporting, through screening and possible removal of the child, to trial
Child Abuse and Neglect, Mass. Department of Children and Families
Includes links to information on warning signs, reporting abuse, and what happens when the department becomes involved
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: A Guide for Mandated Reporters , Mass. Department of Children and Families
Provides key information in a question and answer format
Child Protective Services: A Family's Guide file size 1MB, Mass. Department of Children and Families
This pamphlet explains what to expect when DCF contacts you; how DCF can help you and your family; your rights when DCF is involved with your family; and where you can find support for your family
Children Requiring Assistance (CRA)
, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, 2014.
Pamphlet explains the CRA process, and the rights of children and parents.
Handbook for Parents, Legal Guardians, and Custodians in Child Requiring Assistance Cases , Mass. Trial Court, Juvenile Court Administrative Office, December 3, 2012
This handbook will help you understand what is likely to happen in court, who the people are that may be involved, and what your rights are as a parent, legal guardian, or custodian in a Child Requiring Assistance case
Can a young child be left home alone?
Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries
Is it illegal in Massachusetts to leave a child alone in a car?
Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries
Joint Advisory Regarding School District Officials' Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect
, Mass. Department of Children and Families and Department of Education, 2010
Summarizes the mandated reporting law, as amended, addresses commonly asked questions about the law and the responsibilities that it imposes on school officials, and includes links to G.L. c. 119, §§ 21 and 51A
Juvenile Court Department Guidelines for Court Investigator Reports , Mass. Juvenile Court Dept. Guidelines include the conduct of GAL investigations, appropriate content for GAL reports and more
Protective Intake Policy file size 2MB, Mass. Dept. of Children and Families, February 28, 2016.
"The purpose of this policy is to clearly articulate the Department's primary and immediate focus on child safety in screening and responding to reports of child abuse and neglect and to establish the requirements for performing these responsibilities by Department staff in accordance with MGL c. 119, §§ 51A-51B."
Quick Reference on CRA (Child Requiring Assistance)
, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, June 1, 2013
A handy guide for child advocates in Massachusetts
Warning Signs for Child Abuse or Neglect, Mass. Dept. of Health and Human Services
Lists recognizable physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse or neglect
Child Welfare Practice in Massachusetts , MCLE loose-leaf
DCF Case Practice Policy and Procedure Manual , Dept. of Children and Families, 2008
Last update: November 18, 2016