Assessing the Situation
During a child abuse investigation, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (New Jersey’s CPS agency) may conduct child safety assessments and family risk assessments. These help caseworkers identify the risks of harm the child faces in the home and the likelihood the family will abuse or neglect the child. The assessments check for many factors, and the results are used to determine whether a child can stay safely in the home and what should be addressed in the CPS safety plan.
Checking for Facts
Safety and risk assessments allow caseworkers to gather facts about the allegations to structure the decision-making in the case. In that respect, they are used as a decision-making tool. Family risk assessments help caseworkers decipher whether the family is likely to abuse or neglect the child in the near future. Likelihoods of risk are graded as low, moderate, high, or very high.
Child safety assessments help caseworkers determine whether any child in the home is unsafe and needs protection and what steps the DCP&P must take to protect the child. The assessment works to both gauge the safety of all children in the home and identify the specific risks the children face. Without such an objective view of these issues, it is difficult for caseworkers to make impartial, informed decisions about whether or not to put a child in foster placement. So, the assessments help ensure accountability and accuracy in the child welfare system.
To complete an assessment, caseworkers will typically:
- Conduct home visits and interviews
- Review case record histories
- Contact CPS agencies in other states the family has lived in
- Speak with previous caseworkers
- Contact collateral sources such as family members, the reporter, neighbors, law enforcement, healthcare providers, and school staff.
Family risk and child safety assessments are an integral part of the child abuse investigation process in New Jersey. But there are many moving parts and factors caseworkers will be considering. Working with an attorney can help ensure you provide favorable information to caseworkers while defending your rights. An experienced New Jersey child welfare defense attorney can also explain the investigation process, so you are aware of what information caseworkers are gathering and from whom.
Have you become involved with New Jersey’s CPS agency? 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 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.