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It’s frightening that DCF can remove children without court order

Josh Sabey and Sarah Perkins played with their children at a park in Waltham in October 2022. The couple had their children taken away in the middle of the night last summer over a rib injury to one that they could not immediately explain.Vanessa Leroy/For The Washington Post

Re “More checks urged on DCF” (Page A1, Jan. 18): It is prudent and right for the Department of Children and Families to remove children who are in imminent danger from their families. However, there is no doubt that it is traumatic and harmful for children to be ripped from their parents’ care, especially when there is no imminent threat.

Representative Joan Meschino’s bill to amend the law governing such actions should receive careful consideration. There should be some check on the DCF’s unlimited power to remove children from their homes without a court order. It is indeed a frightening truth that the agency can do this. Just as judges are available after business hours for an emergency restraining order, they should be available by telephone for potential after-hours child removals.


There are thousands of children in foster care, which is costly to the state and ultimately the taxpayers. Absent exigent circumstances, the DCF should make every effort to keep families together.

It is true that judges will be reluctant to leave a child in an untenable situation. It is also true that the DCF will be more circumspect about removing children if they know their decision will be reviewed by a judge.

Kevin Patrick Seaver


The writer has been a defense attorney in DCF cases since 1991.