Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Selected Cases

Web Sources

Print Sources

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c.119 Protection of Children

MGL c.119, s.21 Mandated Reporters defined

MGL c.119, s.51A Mandated Reporting explained

St.2008, c.176
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.

Massachusetts Regulations

110 CMR Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS)

Selected Cases

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."

Web Sources

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 pdf format of The Answer Book 2016
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 links to PDF file , 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 pdf format of Mandated Reporter's Guide to Child Abuse and Nelgect
, Mass. Department of Children and Families
Provides key information in a question and answer format

Child Protective Services: A Family's Guide pdf format of A Family's Guide to Protective Services for Children
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) links to PDF file , 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 pdf format of Child Requiring Assistance
, 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 pdf format of Guidelines for Court Investigators
, Mass. Juvenile Court Dept. Guidelines include the conduct of GAL investigations, appropriate content for GAL reports and more

Protective Intake Policy pdf format of Protective Intake Policy 2-28-16
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) links to PDF file , 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

Print Sources

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

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