A Judgment Call: Ongoing vs. Isolated Risk

A Judgment Call: Ongoing vs. Isolated RiskMaking the Call

DCP&P caseworkers and case managers have a significant amount of discretion when deciding whether a child is safe. This critical judgment call determines where a child can live. For this reason, it’s important to do whatever you can to help them make an informed decision about your child’s safety. Doing so takes understanding what factors caseworkers will consider, such as whether a safety risk is isolated or ongoing.

Assessing the Safety Risk

In DCP&P investigations, an isolated risk to a child’s safety is easier to deal with than an ongoing risk. An isolated risk, such as a child left home alone too long when a parent was dealing with an emergency, is easily overcome. An ongoing risk, such as a parent’s severe substance abuse problems, might not be. Accordingly, caseworkers assess each safety risk a child faces and develop a case plan to address those issues. Not surprisingly, DCP&P is more likely to remove a child from a home if there is an ongoing safety risk. Conversely, it might work with parents on a safety plan if the safety risk was an isolated incident.

Relevant Factors

DCP&P will look at numerous factors when determining whether a safety risk is isolated or ongoing, including:

  • Chronicity (frequency of the abuse)
  • Severity of the harm
  • Caretaker history (of substance abuse, abuse, or neglect)
  • Caretaker awareness of the problem
  • The perpetrator’s access to the child
  • The family’s social support systems, and
  • The type(s) of abuse or neglect

What You Can Do

Most families who’re involved with DCP&P have the potential to provide their child with a safe home. But, like all families, they may face periodic challenges throughout their lives. DCP&P’s role should be to help you overcome those challenges by providing services and support, not by ripping your family apart.

Working with a New Jersey DCP&P/DYFS attorney is a good way to ensure your caseworkers make informed decisions about the risks your child faces. An attorney can provide relevant information, challenge assumptions, and enforce your rights. When combined, these efforts can work to reduce the chance a caseworker will remove your child from your home.

Are you involved in child abuse litigation? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you navigate the litigation process from start to finish. 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 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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