Caring for a special needs child can put any parent to the test. The challenges families with special needs children face are unique. Accordingly, all New Jersey child abuse cases involving special needs children involve many factors that can complicate efforts. But the State of New Jersey remains dedicated to meeting the needs of all children at risk of harm, including special needs children.
Assessing the Needs of Special Needs Children
The DCPP, New Jersey’s CPS agency, must conduct a child strengths and needs assessment within 60 days of opening the case. DCPP must conduct a reassessment every six months when a child is in in-home placement and every three months when a child is in out of home placement (i.e. foster placement). The assessments must:
- Assess and evaluate the strengths and needs of each child
- Identify the child’s critical needs
- Develop a suitable service plan
- Monitor the service referrals on behalf of the child, and
- Assess changes in the child’s functioning over time to evaluate the progress of the plan
The strengths and needs assessment is particularly important in cases involving special needs children. Examples of services the DCPP may refer a child to include therapists, counseling, or healthcare providers. The DCPP may also notify the child’s school district’s special education program to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP). If an IEP is already in place, DCPP may help monitor or adjust the IEP based on assessment findings.
Meeting the Educational Needs of Special Needs Children
One of the challenges the DCPP faces when deciding to put a child in foster placement is keeping the child in school. New Jersey begins with the presumption the child should remain in his or her original school district. Thus, it will first try to locate a resource family within that district.
Children with special needs also have a right to be placed in a supportive environment if removed from their parents. Not all resource families are capable of caring for a special needs child. This can make it difficult to find an appropriate foster placement within the child’s school district. When this happens, the DCPP will try to find a placement within a different school district that can meet the educational needs of the child. For example, the DCPP may try to locate a school district with a robust special education program. In some cases, it will place the child in a group home for special needs children. All children in foster placement have a right to learn in a supportive educational setting no matter their needs.
DCPP must assess the strengths and needs of any child and ensure that child is placed in an appropriate and supportive educational environment. But numerous challenges can arise in the process, such as finding a foster placement within the child’s school district. Thus, as a parent involved with the DCPP, it’s important to know your rights and those of your child.
Speak with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney if you have a special needs child. An attorney can help you take steps to monitor the progress of your child’s specific service plan. Your role as a parent is key here, as you know and understand your child’s needs best. Don’t be afraid to speak up on behalf of your child to ensure his or her needs are met. An attorney can help you do this.
If you have a special needs child and are dealing with the DCPP, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend yourself and ensure your child’s needs are met. 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 email@example.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.