When the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), f/k/a the Division of Youth and Family Services, (DYFS) receives an allegation of abuse or neglect stemming from the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal), often the accused parent is asked to submit to a substance abuse evaluation.
This process entails meeting with a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and taking a series of quantitative tests (yes/no; true/false; scale from 1 to 10; etc.) designed to evaluate potentially riskful behaviors involved in substance use.
Parents are often loathe to submit to any form of evaluation by the Division for fear that the agency’s bias in referring the parent for evaluation will taint the evaluator and result in an unfair assessment.
This fear has much greater validity when the evaluation being proposed is a psychological evaluation, rather than a substance abuse evaluation.
The reason is that addiction is succinctly defined as compulsive behavior that continues in the face of adverse consequences.
The answers to the substance abuse evaluation determine the risk; whereas, in psychological evaluations, there is a higher degree of subjectivity involved in interpreting the results of the quantitative tests.
If asked to submit to a Substance Abuse Evaluation, defense counsel may limit a parent’s exposure by implementing these practice pointers:
Where unintentional conduct (i.e., neglect) is alleged, the Division maintains the burden of proof to demonstrate the probability of present or future harm. New Jersey Div. of Youth & Fam. Svcs. v. S.S., 372 N.J.Super. 13 (App.Div.2004). Neglect cannot be founded on assumptions and suppositions.
These pointers are not designed to provide legal advice. For more information, please contact Allison C. Williams, Esq. and schedule a Consultation.