When there are allegations of child abuse or neglect, DCPP (formerly DYFS) must step in and investigate the allegations. DCPP was created to investigate and prosecute allegations of New Jersey child abuse and neglect, according to reports for eyewitnesses, parents, family members, doctors or teachers. If unsafe living arrangements are alleged, DCPP will also investigate these allegations. Following a report of abuse or neglect, a DCPP caseworker will be sent to investigate and assess the situation. The caseworkers will speak to anyone who might have information regarding the allegations. The case may go to court, or DCPP may conclude on its own that the allegations are true. At this point, the parent or guardian can appeal the decision and request a hearing.
If DCPP finds a preponderance of evidence that the child has been abused or neglected, then the child may be placed in foster care. The prospect of losing a child is extremely frightening, and facing DCPP on your own is intimidating. Perhaps you only disciplined your child, yet that action was taken out of context, or distorted. Or perhaps the allegations are absolutely false. If the allegations are true, then while you will certainly want to cooperate with DCPP, you will also need to speak to a family law attorney who has experience dealing with DCPP. No matter your situation, if you have been charged with child abuse or neglect, and are now dealing with DCPP, calling an attorney from the Williams Law Group quickly is essential. Our DCPP attorneys in Short Hills could help you appeal their decision and restore your family while protecting your rights.
As a defendant in litigation filed by the DCPP, if you disagree with the trial court’s decision, you are entitled to file an appeal with the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, requesting further review of the decision. There are certain requirements you must meet in order to be eligible to file an appeal. There are a few types of appeals on DCPP matters. If the findings in your case are “substantiated,” meaning that DCPP found sufficient evidence to back up the allegations of abuse and/or neglect, then a (written) administrative appeal must be requested within 20 days of receipt of the DCPP finding.
For “established,” or “not established” DCPP conclusions, you have 45 days from the date of the administrative finding to file a Notice of Appeal. Within 45 days of the Order Terminating Litigation of the Title Nine matter, which alleges abuse or neglect of your child, you must file your request for appeal. An appeal for a Judgment of Guardianship Terminating Parental Rights must be requested within 21 days. Court rules specify the proper form and information, and a highly qualified attorney from the Williams Law Group will make sure all forms are properly completed in a timely manner.
Depending on the nature of your appeal, there are different standards, which control how the Appellate Division will review your appeal—i.e., whether you are appealing a finding of fact, or a conclusion of law. A DCPP appeal will trigger a Law Guardian who will be appointed by the Public Defender’s office and will submit a brief and argue on behalf of your child. Your appeal will be heard in front of an administrative law judge, and at that time you will be given the opportunity to argue your case, presenting any evidence which could support your claims. If you are successful at the administrative hearing, the original decision could be changed to “unfounded.”
Your right to appeal a DCPP decision is an important right. DCPP can sometimes make uninformed decisions, which can completely rip a family apart. Maybe they were given erroneous information, or maybe you are the victim of an ex who wants full custody of the child. No matter the situation, it is important that you not give up following a DCPP decision. Aside from losing your child, you could also be required to have your name listed on the Child Abuse Central Registry, a confidential list maintained by the Department of Children and Families. There are certain agencies which will have access to this information, including licensed daycare providers, adoptive agencies and elder care facilities.
In other words, a DCPP decision could potentially affect your life for years and years to come. Any person listed on the registry remains in peril of having an employer request access to this information—information which could preclude that person from employment. It is much better to appeal the DCPP decision, raising the question as to whether the decision made by DCPP is unreasonable or arbitrary.
The Short Hills attorneys at the Williams Law Group are skilled in handling all DCPP matters, including appeals. We believe you need an advocate who will aggressively defend your rights after being accused of abuse or neglect by DCPP, during the investigation, and all the way through to an appeal. To get started on your case, call today.