Options for Concerned Grandparents
If you are a grandparent of a child who you believe is at risk of abuse, there are steps you can take to secure his or her safety. You can report child abuse anonymously. But if you want to play a more active role in protecting your grandchild, you should know you are not alone. It is not uncommon for grandparents to step in and act as caregivers to their grandchildren who are being abused. Indeed, many New Jersey children in foster placement live with grandparents and other close relatives. To ensure you make the right steps to effectively protect your grandchild, here are a few tips.
Whether you make an anonymous report is up to you, but try to provide as much information as you can. The call screener will want to know who the child’s caregiver is, and his or her residence, and relationship with the child. The screener will also ask when and where the abuse took place and the type and frequency of the abuse.
Lastly, you will be asked how urgent the situation is (i.e. is the child in grave danger). Even if you wish to remain anonymous, try to provide this information to the best of your ability.
Decide How You Want to Help
Also, decide whether you want to step in and offer to be a caregiver to your grandchild should your grandchild be removed from his or her parents. Typically, the New Jersey DCPP (formerly DYFS) will consider placing children with relatives before placing them with foster families (i.e. resource families). If your grandchild is removed, reach out to the DCPP or your grandchild’s parents if you want to act as a caregiver.
Note that foster placements, whether with relatives or resource families, is meant to be temporary. Also note that if you assume the caregiving responsibilities of your grandchild, New Jersey requires you take steps to become a licensed resource family. This will involve a thorough screening including background checks and home visits. If you want to care for your grandchild long-term, you can seek kinship legal guardianship, which would give you many of the same rights as the child’s parent. Guardianships are not temporary, unlike foster placement.
Don’t Stay Silent
It’s important to know that under New Jersey’s mandatory child abuse reporting law, anyone who knowingly fails to report child abuse is a disorderly person and can be charged with a crime. Making an anonymous report of child abuse ensures you comply with the law and notify the authorities that will investigate the report and take steps to ensure your grandchild is safe. This does not necessarily mean DCPP will take your grandchild away from his or her parents. In many cases, DCPP will offer services and support to struggling families instead of removing the child. Also, speak with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney who can help you take the right steps to protect your grandchild.
Fighting for the protection of a child is stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights and protect the child’s best interests. 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.