How Is a Child Welfare Case Investigated?

Investigating Abuse and Neglect

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) is New Jersey’s child welfare agency. The DCP&P is responsible for responding to reports of child abuse. Once a report is made, the DCP&P will conduct an investigation of the allegations. These child protection investigations must begin within 24 hours of a report being made. The findings from the investigation assist the agency and the court system with putting proper protections in place for the child.

DCP&P investigators gather a lot of information during an investigation. Typically, they will go to the house or institution where the child is living to speak with the child and other occupants, make observations, and gather information. They can and often do show up without giving you notice. An investigator may also talk to the child’s teachers, counselors, or health care providers. They may also request and review documents such as medical records and school reports.

It is important to understand your rights in the investigation process. The DCP&P representatives cannot arrest you or file charges against you. You do not have to consent to an interview on the spot, but you may be required to provide testimony later on in the case. You may also be asked to sign papers. Make sure you thoroughly understand the papers before you sign them. They may include releases that allow the DCP&P representatives to access your child’s records. Speak with an attorney to ensure you have an understanding of what the papers are asking you to acknowledge. You may be able to sign limited releases that limit the scope of information the DCP&P can request. If you do not think an investigation needs to be done, you may ask the investigators to leave. If they do leave, however, they can ask a judge to issue an order that will allow them to continue the investigation. This will also mean you need to attend court hearings to argue your case.

The investigators can remove your child from the residence if they feel your child is in danger. This is not supposed to be a first resort for the DCP&P, as reasonable efforts are required to be made to keep your child in the home for stability. Your caseworker may ask you to follow a safety and protection plan (SPP). This may require you do certain things to ensure your child is safe. Once the investigation is done, you will be sent a letter from the DCP&P stating the findings of the investigation.

If the DCP&P has opened a child welfare case against you, you should consult with an attorney right away. The process can be complicated and full of red tape, and you may not feel like the DCP&P representatives are on your side. Try to find an attorney with experience handling child welfare cases. An attorney well versed in the policies and procedures of the DCP&P will be able to assist you with your case and serve as your advocate. 

Do you have questions about a child welfare case? The knowledgeable attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience and skills needed to help you navigate the child welfare case process. Located in Union, 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 info@awilliamslawgroup.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.

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