Child welfare caseworkers are subject to many time limits they must meet to properly handle a case. The time limits protect the rights of the child because they help minimize the amount of time children are without a safe and permanent home. Unfortunately, caseworkers don’t always heed these time limits. Therefore, parents should be aware of these time limits so they can monitor the progress of their case and take action when their caseworkers fail to adhere to protocol. To help you do this, here are five New Jersey CPS time limits to watch.
DCPP must complete investigations within 60 days of the original referral. This is considered the intake state of the case. After DCPP issues findings, it may connect parents with services and/or initiate litigation. To clarify, not all investigations are completed within this timeframe, but this is the timeframe set forth in DCPP protocol.
Within three months of placing a child in foster care, the DCPP must complete a Family Reunification Assessment. DCPP must also complete an assessment at least every three months thereafter. Parents should follow up with their caseworkers if they fail to complete an assessment. Reunification assessments are crucial, as they track the progress of the parents. They also provide DCPP with the information needed to better help the parents by providing appropriate services and support geared toward safe reunification.
DCPP must conduct a fact-finding hearing within four months of the beginning of your case. At the fact-finding hearing, a judge will decide whether you have abused or neglected your child. This hearing is a crucial point in your case. If you have a fact-finding hearing coming up, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey DCPP defense attorney who can help you understand the hearing process and prepare.
Within ten days of implementing a Safety Protection Plan, the parent must have resolved the safety issues. Once this time limit is up, the DCPP must file a complaint with the court if the safety issues are not resolved. Initiating litigation helps the DCPP put legally enforceable safeguards in place for the child.
The DCPP must commence Title 30 proceedings before a child has been in foster placement for 15 of the last 22 months. Title 30 proceedings pertain to a parent’s parental rights and are called guardianship proceedings. Essentially, the DCPP requests the court to terminate parental rights so that the child can be adopted. DCPP can initiate Title 30 proceedings prior to that point but must file the complaint once the child has been in foster placement for 15 of the last 22 months.
These time limits are subject to exceptions and overrides under certain circumstances. Thus, you should stay aware of them and speak with an attorney if any of them are not met. It’s important for you to be an involved part of your case, as the DCPP is notorious for bending rules and pushing back deadlines. While there may be good cause for these actions, it’s nevertheless important for you to watch these time limits so you can work to minimize the amount of time DCPP is involved in your life.
Are you under the scrutiny of the DCPP? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you navigate your case while defending your rights. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.