Challenging A Substantiation

The information below is for people who have been substantiated for child abuse and neglect in Vermont.

May I challenge a substantiation?

If you were substantiated before September 1, 2007: 

You are listed on the Registry, and may request a review to challenge the substantiation at any time.

If you were substantiated on or after September 1, 2007: 

You'll have the opportunity to request a review to challenge the substantiation before your name is placed on the Registry.  DCF will send you a letter informing you about:

  • Our intent to add your name to the Child Protection Registry1 AND
  • Your right to request a review within 14 days of when the letter was mailed

What if I don’t request a review?

If you don’t request a review within the time allowed, your name will be added to the Registry, the department’s decision will be final, and you’ll have no further right of review2. If you already have a registry record, it will remain.

What happens if I request a review of a substantiation?

The review will be conducted by an independent reviewer. Before it takes place, you will be provided:

  • The time and place of the review
  • The review procedures, including ways you can submit information you’d like the reviewer to consider
  • Copies of investigative documents as authorized by law

What happens after the review?

You’ll be notified of the decision.  The reviewer may:

  • Reject or overturn the substantiation
  • Uphold the substantiation OR
  • Place it on hold and direct DCF to investigate further

What happens if the reviewer upholds the substantiation?

  1. Your record will be immediately added to the Registry (if you already have one, it will remain)
  2. You may appeal the decision to the Human Services Board

Is a registry record permanent?

You may request a review to have your registry record expunged (removed) after it has been listed:

For at least three (3) years if:

  • Your name was added to the Registry before July 1, 2009.
  • Your name was added to the Registry on or after July 1, 2009 and your child protection level3 is 2.
  • You were substantiated before you turned 18. If you were substantiated before age 10, your record will be automatically removed when you turn 18 — provided you have had no subsequent registry records.

For at least seven (7) years if:

  • Your name was added to the Registry on or after July 1, 2009 and your child protection level3 is 1.

What happens if I request a review to have my record expunged?

You’ll be given the chance to present evidence and witnesses that support your request for removal. You have the burden of proving that a reasonable person would believe you no longer present a risk to the safety or well-being of children.

The Commissioner will consider:

  • The nature and number of substantiations
  • The amount of time that has passed since a substantiation
  • The circumstances of the substantiation and whether a similar incident is likely
  • Activities that reflect attest to your changed behavior or circumstances (e.g., therapy or employment)
  • References that attest to your good moral character

You will be notified of the Commissioner’s decision. If your request is denied, you may appeal the decision to the Human Services Board.

How do I request a review?

  1. Print and complete this form
  2. Mail your completed and signed form to:

Vermont Department for Children and Families
Commissioner's Registry Review Unit
280 State Drive, HC 1 North
Waterbury, VT 05671-1080

What if I have questions?

If you have questions about challenging a substantiation or requesting expungement (removal) of a record, call (802) 241-2321.


1.The Commissioner has the right to immediately enter a person's name into the Registry in cases involving sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.

2.The Commissioner may grant a waiver and permit a review beyond the given time for “good cause”. This may include an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal charge arising from the incident of abuse or neglect.

3. For individuals placed on the Registry on or after July 1, 2009, the registry record includes a designated child protection level, based on the risk of future harm to children:

  • Level 1 is assigned if:
    • The substantiation involves substantial child endangerment;
    • There are court adjudications for related conduct; or
    • There is a high risk of future harm.
  • Level 2 is assigned for all other substantiations.