New Jersey DCPP/DYFS Lawyer
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), previously known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), manages all child abuse and neglect cases in New Jersey. The Division investigates allegations of abuse or neglect to determine if a child is at risk of harm in their home.
If someone accuses you of mistreating a child, or if you believe your child may be a victim, an experienced New Jersey DCPP/DYFS lawyer could help. At the Williams Law Group, our skilled attorneys could explain the consequences of abuse or neglect findings and help you navigate the complicated child protective services system.
What is Child Abuse and Neglect in New Jersey?
New Jersey Legislative Statutes §9:6-8 defines child abuse or neglect as any of the following:
- Physically or emotionally harming a child
- Placing a child at substantial risk of harm
- Sexually abusing a child
- Failing to provide proper care to a child, including adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care
- Using excessive physical punishment or restraints on a child
- Abandoning a child
Because New Jersey is a mandatory reporting state, anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must report their concerns to DCPP/DYFS. Many acts could constitute abuse or neglect under this expansive definition, so it is critical to seek representation from a nearby DCPP/DYFS attorney in any child abuse or neglect case.
The Role of DCPP/DYFS in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
When someone reports child abuse or neglect, DCPP/DYFS must begin investigating the case within 24 hours. The assigned DCPP investigator may interview the alleged abuser, the child, family members, and other people who might have information about the child’s welfare.
If the investigator concludes that someone mistreated the child or placed them at substantial risk of harm, the DCPP may file a petition with the New Jersey Superior Court requesting protection for the child. This could include removing them from their parents’ care.
DCPP/DYFS Investigations in New Jersey
The DCPP/DYFS must complete their investigation and make a final abuse or neglect determination within 60 days from the initial report, unless a judge extends the deadline. In the course of a DCPP/DYFS investigation, a caseworker may do the following:
- Interview the alleged abuser, the child, the child’s parents, family members, and any other person who has information regarding the child’s well-being
- Verify the alleged abuser’s address and employment
- Inspect the child for visible signs of abuse or neglect
- Conduct a home study of the child’s residence to determine if it is safe
- Review the child’s medical and counseling records
- Review the DCPP/DYFS’s internal documents to determine if the alleged abuser or any family member has a prior history of abuse or neglect
- Run a criminal background check on the suspected abuser
If any person involved in the case will not cooperate in the investigation, the DCPP/DYSF may ask a court to intervene. However, it is important to know that the alleged abuser does not have to answer questions without their attorney present. A knowledgeable DCPP/DYFS lawyer in the area could explain the investigatory process and advise on whether to participate in interviews.
Findings in a DCPP/DYFS Investigation
After an investigation, if DCPP/DYFS finds that a child has not been abused or neglected, they may rule out the case. On the other hand, if they determine that the alleged wrongdoing did occur, they will issue a “substantiated” finding of abuse and report the conclusion to law enforcement. The maltreater’s name will be placed on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry, which could restrict that person’s ability to work or have contact with children.
A New Jersey resident has 20 days to appeal the DCPP/DYFS’s decision and request a hearing. An attorney experienced in local DCPP/DYFS proceedings could further explain a person’s rights in the investigatory process and help them work towards a positive outcome to their case.
Contact a Knowledgeable DCPP/DYFS Lawyer Today
If you have been contacted by the DCPP/DYFS about an ongoing investigation, you may want to know how to protect your legal rights. Likewise, if you suspect child abuse, you are likely concerned about protecting the victim’s safety.
Our firm’s compassionate attorneys understand how stressful it is to be involved in a child welfare investigation. A New Jersey DCPP/DYFS lawyer could represent you and provide legal guidance throughout the process. Call us today for a consultation.