There are many possible causes of prolonged foster placement. Typically, foster placement is short-term, providing a child with a safe home just long enough for his or her parent to make necessary changes. But when a parent struggles to do so, or the social workers on the case fail to work diligently with the parent on reunification, foster placement can be prolonged. Prolonged periods in foster placement are not only harmful to a child; they can trigger Title 30 (termination of parental rights) proceedings. In fact, the DCPP, New Jersey’s CPS agency, is required by law to file for Title 30 proceedings when a child has been in foster placement for 15 of the last 22 months. It can commence these proceedings prior to that point in certain circumstances or decide not to terminate parental rights, but these are exceptions.
Prolonged foster placement is not good for parent or child. It also places an undue burden on the DCPP. Logically, you would think DCPP would work hard to keep children out of foster placement or ensure their stay is only temporary, but the reality is less than ideal. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that DCPP and the family law courts must always act in the child’s best interests. Prolonged foster placement, in many cases, goes directly against those best interests.
You may struggle with leveraging that single legal principle if you are fighting for reunification because the child’s “best interests” are somewhat subjective. If you are in this situation and your child’s foster placement has been prolonged unnecessarily, it is time to hire a child welfare defense attorney. A skilled defense attorney can do a few things to try to remove your child from foster placement. First, he or she can address the problem head-on by contacting DCPP. Parents often transition to a state of helplessness after prolonged periods of separation from their child. They may visit less and slowly withdrawal from the case, which is understandable considering the difficulty in working with DCPP. An attorney can step in and demand change. Second, an attorney can argue reunification is in your child’s best interests. He or she may contact your child’s law guardian (the attorney the state provided for your child) to come to a reasonable reunification plan. Finally, your attorney can hold DCPP accountable for putting in a reasonable effort to keep your family together and help you reunify.
Prolonged foster placement is not in any child’s best interests. A safe and permanent home is which means you have leverage when fighting for reunification. You may need a New Jersey child abuse defense attorney in your ring to enforce your rights and the legal standards DCPP sets forth, but fighting against prolonged foster placement may be what is best for your child.
Are you struggling with your DCPP case? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you ensure your rights and your child’s best interests are protected. 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.