How Does the DCPP Screen Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect?

The Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) receives countless reports of child abuse and neglect every year. How does the DCPP decide whether or not to accept a report? Here’s an overview of the DCPP’s screening process:

The Case Meets the Specific Conditions

A case must meet certain conditions in order to be considered a valid report of child abuse or neglect. First, the allegations must involve a victim that is under the age of 18 and a perpetrator that has custody of the victim. This can include parents, legal guardians, any other adults that are supposed to care for the child. Next, the report must contain allegations that the child was either already harmed or at serious risk of being harmed. Finally, the report must include information that shows the parent or other caregiver is responsible for harming the child or putting the child in danger of being harmed.

If a report meets these conditions, the DCPP must investigate the allegations.

The Case is Categorized and Assigned

The next step in the screening process is determining whether the report is an initial or subsequent report. If this is the first report involving the child and perpetrator, it is an initial report. But, if someone else has made allegations involving the child and perpetrator in the past, this is a subsequent report.

Initial reports of child abuse are sent to DCPP offices located near the child and perpetrator. However, subsequent reports are typically sent to the DCPP workers that are already involved in the case.

Some Cases Are Classified As Urgent

The reports of child abuse and neglect have now been screened and assigned to caseworkers. Investigations into the allegations are typically launched within 24 hours from this point. But, the investigation may launch right away if the screener has determined the need for an immediate response.

The screener will request an immediate response if any of these conditions are met:

  • Law enforcement has requested an immediate response
  • A child has died due to abuse and another child is in danger within the same home
  • There are allegations of serious physical abuse
  • The allegations suggest a child is in need of medical attention
  • A child under the age of six is left unsupervised
  • There are allegations that a newborn has been exposed to drugs

If the screener requests an immediate response, the caseworker that is assigned to the case must make contact with the family by the end of the day.

Has someone accused you of child abuse or neglect? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Let our experienced attorneys protect your family’s best interests throughout the DCPP’s investigation. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation.

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