I have a problem with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) but I cannot get a fair hearing.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed June 2021

If you disagree with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) decisions or actions and you do not have a right a "Fair Hearing", you can start a “Grievance Process.”


You have the right to a Fair Hearing for specific decisions or actions DCF has taken. If you disagree with any other DCF decisions or actions use their Grievance Process. Some examples of when you might use the Grievance Process are:

  • A DCF employee treats you unfairly.
  • A DCF employee is rude to you.
  • You disagree with your Action Plan.


To start a grievance, write a letter to the office you are complaining about. In your letter, explain:

  • the decision or actions you disagree with,
  • why you disagree,
  • the date of the decision or action, and
  • information that shows why DCF should change their decision or action.

Send the letter to:

You need to write to DCF within 30 days of the date of the decision or action you disagree with.

In your letter, include all of the facts and arguments that you want DCF to consider. Your letter may be your only chance to explain your case to DCF. They might talk to the people you are complaining about. They might talk to you. But they must send you their decision within 21 days of getting your letter.

DCF says their decision is final. But if you still disagree with it, talk to a lawyer.

Can I call anyone else with questions or concerns about DCF?

DCF has an "Office of the Ombudsman." An “ombudsman” is a person who looks into complaints. The DCF Office of the Ombudsman helps parents who feel DCF treated them unfairly. If you tried to solve a problem with your local DCF office and you are still unhappy, staff at the Ombudsman's Office can work with you and your local DCF office to solve problems.
Their phone number is (617) 748-2444.

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