How Long Can Child Welfare Investigations Last?

How Long Can Child Welfare Investigations Last?When Time Is of the Essence

When you are under investigation for child abuse or neglect, time is important, especially if you are separated from your child. Every day that goes by can bring a host of new worries. Fortunately, child welfare investigations must follow certain protocol to ensure fairness and to minimize the amount of time the family is impacted. Guidelines stipulate investigations must commence within 24 hours of receiving a report. Typically it begins with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) contacting you. For some parents, this means caseworkers showing up on their doorstep. Investigations must be completed within 60 days, absent any “exceptional circumstances.”

Unfortunately, investigations can be delayed, and some parents find themselves wondering what they can do to expedite the process. Exceptional circumstances—a general term to accommodate for unforeseen difficulties—do come up, and when your investigation does continue past 60 days, it’s normal to be concerned.

Influencing Factors

The length of your investigation can vary based on numerous factors such as the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegation and what the caseworkers need to do to thoroughly investigate it. The workload of the investigating caseworkers can also delay the process. To complete a thorough investigation, caseworkers might need to:

  • Observe the child and his or her injuries
  • Observe other children in the household
  • Get statements from parents, neighbors, and others people in the child’s life
  • Speak with the child and other children in the household
  • Review medical records when applicable

Always Be Patient

The important thing to keep in mind is to be patient and try to cooperate just enough to keep the investigation moving. But think before you speak. Caseworkers might try to get you to agree with the allegations, which can save them some legwork. Even if they say agreeing will speed up reunification, it is ill advised unless you’ve spoken with an attorney.

Working with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney can ensure your investigation isn’t unnecessarily prolonged. An attorney can keep you informed on what caseworkers are doing and advise you on how you can cooperate to keep making progress without compromising your chance of reunification or risking unfavorable findings.

Being investigated for child abuse is stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights as a parent and protect your child’s best interests. 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, 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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