Parents and Substance Abuse: What CPS Can Require You to Do

Fulfilling the Requirements or Jumping Through Hoops?

When a child abuse or neglect allegation is made against a parent, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), New Jersey’s child welfare agency, will take steps to identify the cause or contributing factors to the allegation. In some cases, a parent’s substance abuse will be identified as one of these factors, after which point the DCP&P and/or the court can require the parent to complete certain steps

In cases such as these, the DCP&P will typically first instruct the parent to undergo a substance abuse evaluation. The point of the evaluation is to identify and evaluate the risky behaviors of the parent’s that led to the child being harmed or put at risk of harm. A Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) will conduct the evaluation. These highly trained clinical counselors will have the parent complete certain tests to identify high-risk behaviors. 

It is important to understand that as the parent undergoing evaluation, the results of the evaluation could prompt the DCP&P to require you to complete other certain steps, such as substance abuse treatment or engage in similar rehabilitative efforts. It is not uncommon for a parent with a substance abuse problem to be asked to complete unnecessary or unwarranted steps before being reunited with his or her child.

A substance abuse problem does not in and of itself amount to child abuse or neglect. Rather, it is the set of behaviors that result from such a problem that can put a child in harm’s way. Unfortunately, parents are sometimes expected to address the issue as a whole as opposed to just the specific behaviors that may put their child at risk. In this respect, a parent with a substance abuse problem may be asked to accomplish unreasonable feats during the child welfare case process. For this reason, it is essential that a parent undergoing a substance abuse evaluation speak with an experienced child welfare attorney. An attorney can explain the purpose of the evaluation and how it can be used in your case. Then, he or she can work to limit the ways in which the results of the evaluation can be held against you in your case.

Do you have questions about a child welfare case? If so, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. Our skilled attorneys can help ensure CPS does not make unnecessary or unreasonable demands of you. 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, 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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