Court Denies Foster Parent’s Right to Intervene in DCF Proceeding

In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Superior Court (Simon, J.) precluded a foster parent from intervening in proceedings designed to reunify a child with her biological father. DCF originally filed a request for an order of temporary custody, which the Court sustained by agreement, as well as a neglect petition, which the Court granted. Shortly thereafter, the child was committed to the Department, and placed in foster care. Although DCF later filed a request for termination of parental rights, the Court denied it, affording the child’s mother and father an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.

In a parallel case, the child’s biological father was also committed to the Department, and ultimately placed in foster care himself. The Court found that the father was fully compliant with all DCF requirements, including attendance at school, and was also showing appropriate parenting skills. When the Department indicated it intended to reunify the child with her father in his new home, the child’s foster mother filed a motion seeking intervenor status to oppose the removal.

In denying the foster mother’s request, the Court explained, “A person or entity does not have a sufficient interest to qualify for the right to intervene merely because an impending judgment will have some effect on him, her, or it. The judgment to be rendered must affect the proposed intervenor’s direct or personal rights, not those of another.” The Court further explained, “These proceedings affect the rights of [the child] and her parents, not the rights of the foster mother. Foster parents are entrusted with foster children on a temporary basis only. Clearly the foster mother will be emotionally affected by the court’s decision; however the court’s judgment affects the rights of [the child] and her parents, particularly the father. It does not affect any direct or personal right that the foster mother may hold by law.”

With respect to the fact that the foster mother was allegedly told she would be the adoptive option for the child, the Court appeared to be sympathetic explaining it could “only imagine her frustration if in fact she was told she would be the adoptive resource…” Nevertheless, it ultimately held there was no controversy before it that require[d] the foster mother’s involvement.” Ultimately, “It is [the father] that has a right to be reunited with his daughter.”

Should you have any questions related to DCF proceedings, please feel free to contact our Managing Partner Joseph Maya directly via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation.