Minding the Timeline
CPS agencies must take care to investigate all referrals promptly. DCP&P (New Jersey’s CPS agency) policy mandates caseworkers conclude investigations within 60 days of a referral. But caseworkers can get extensions past 60 days under certain circumstances. In fact, in a recent assessment, New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families found that only 66% of investigations concluded within 60 days. Let’s take a look at what can delay a New Jersey CPS investigation and how long.
Extending the Investigation
If the investigating caseworker cannot finish the investigation within the 60-day timeframe, he or she can ask for an extension. DCP&P grants extensions in 30-day increments on a case-by-case basis. There are only a few reasons why DCP&P would grant an extension.
- The caseworker needs information from the county prosecutor, law enforcement, or the court.
- The caseworker needs information, records, or reports to finish the investigation. Examples include doctor’s notes, medical records, or expert witness statements.
- The caseworker needs information from the medical examiner (i.e., an autopsy report)
- The caseworker needs more interviews to make a finding. This happens when a key witness refuses to provide information, is out of town, or otherwise unable to complete the interview.
Caseworkers may ask for extensions for other compelling reasons, but this only occurs in extraordinary circumstances. The investigating caseworker must submit a written justification to ask for an extension.
These timelines help ensure the family being investigated can plan for reunification as soon as possible. When a child is in foster placement, every day that goes by makes a big difference. Also, the sooner the caseworker finishes the investigation, the sooner the DCP&P can work to keep the child safe. But caseworkers must first gather all the relevant facts to be able to put effective protections in place.
If you are under investigation for child abuse, consult with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney. An attorney can help ensure the investigating caseworker has everything needed to conduct the investigation in a timely manner. An attorney may also be able to negotiate with DCP&P to keep your case out of court or assist with getting the information needed to conclude the investigation.
Do you have questions about New Jersey CPS investigations? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you navigate your case. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at email@example.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.