School staff—such as teachers and paraeducators— are obligated, like everyone else in New Jersey, to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Because the stakes are high for educators, many err on the side of caution to avoid any liability. As a result, some reports made by school staff might not be founded because they are sometimes based off of observations only made at school. But it’s not up to the educators to make that decision. Once a child’s school reports suspected child abuse or neglect, a child welfare investigation will begin.
New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P) is responsible for investigating all reports, so if your child’s school has made a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, expect a DCP&P caseworker to contact you. Whether the allegation was founded or not, the DCP&P will need to ask you some questions before it determines whether your child is safe. Remember, teachers are observing your child’s appearance, behavior, and demeanor at school.
The DCP&P must take all reports seriously, but a teacher is limited in what claims he or she can make. The DCP&P will need to do a thorough investigation of your child’s home life to corroborate or reject any claims made by your child’s school. Cooperating at this point is important, but you should consider speaking with an attorney as soon as you are given notice you are under investigation. Caseworkers have the authority to take your child even before concluding the investigation, but such a separation is only temporary if a substantiated finding is not made.
If your child’s school made a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, your first step should be to speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney. You have rights during this process, but don’t expect the caseworkers to thoroughly inform you of them. You might find it difficult to get information from your child’s school or the DCP&P caseworkers, but don’t let this discourage you. An attorney can explain the child welfare investigation process and obtain the information you need to understand your case better. An attorney can also advise you of your rights, so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.
If you are looking for compassionate legal defense in New Jersey, the Williams Law Group, LLC can help you. Our skilled child welfare attorneys will defend your rights every step of the way. 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.