The Role of Law Enforcement in Child Welfare Cases

Who Has Authority?

If you are a parent involved in a child welfare case, you may be worried if someone will press charges against you. This is a real concern to have as a parent because New Jersey’s child welfare agency, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), has a lot of authority when it comes to ensuring the welfare of your child. Although child abuse and child neglect can both constitute criminal offenses, not every child welfare case will trigger criminal prosecution.

The Role of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency

The DCP&P has the authority to take measures to protect your child, but the agency does not have the authority to press criminal charges. It does, however, have a duty to report certain pieces of information to the local prosecutor’s office. The DCP&P must report instances such as sexual abuse, serious physical injury, or child death. Once this information is reported, the prosecutor has the authority to file criminal charges against the perpetrator.

The Role of the Prosecutor

This doesn’t mean that charges will be filed in every case. The prosecutor’s office might not file charges if the report from the DCP&P does not contain enough evidence available to convict you. If you are already facing criminal charges for one of the above offenses, make sure you speak with both an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney and a child welfare attorney. It is very important you coordinate your defense efforts to fight your charges and protect your rights in the process.

The DCP&P has the authority to do what it deems appropriate to protect the children of New Jersey from abuse and neglect. It is a state agency but does not serve as law enforcement. No one from the DCP&P can arrest you or press charges. Like all agencies responsible for the protection of others, however, the DCP&P has a duty to report certain severe instances of harm. In many child welfare cases, the DCP&P and the parents are able to come to a mutual agreement on a safety plan that allows the child to remain in the home.

Do you have a child welfare case and have questions about the process? Williams Law Group, LLC can help you navigate the child welfare case process, informing you of your rights and responsibilities and protecting your interests. 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 connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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