DCPP, formerly DYFS, is New Jersey’s child welfare agency. After investigating a child abuse referral, the DCPP will issue a finding. Findings are the results of the investigation. Parents have a right to appeal certain findings made by the DCPP. Those findings include substantiated and established. DCPP appeals, however, can be complicated. Let’s take a look at what those findings mean and how parents can exercise their right to disagree with them.
Substantiated findings mean the agency found evidence to back up (i.e. substantiate) the referral. Basically, it means they confirmed the report of abuse. A substantiated finding has many severe repercussions. The parent’s child may be removed from his or her custody, and the parent’s information will be added to the child abuse record information (CARI) database. This will make the parent ineligible to become an adoptive or foster parent. It can also affect certain employment opportunities.
Established findings mean the agency found evidence of abuse, but that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors. The record of the case will be permanent, but the parent’s information will not be added to the CARI database. Still, an established finding can affect certain employment opportunities and future DCPP cases should they arise.
Appealing either of these findings can be an uphill battle, but parents should exercise this very important right. Due to the long-term consequences of one of these findings, it is worth the time to explore the appeals process with an attorney. Parents can request an administrative appeal of the DCPP’s decision by submitting a written letter of appeal to the DCPP within 20 days of receiving notice of the findings. In the letter, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. At the hearing, parents are given the chance to disagree and request the findings be changed. If the parent is already involved in a court case with the DCPP, he or she may have to request the appeal through the court, rather than an administrative appeal.
Both appeal processes can be complicated and will require the parent prepare for and attend a hearing wherein he or she can present an argument and evidence to support it. You should always consult with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney if you have received a substantiated or established finding. DCPP appeals are notoriously difficult, but an attorney can give you the best chance of success.
If you need to appeal a DCPP finding, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend yourself. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.