When You Need to Know Your Rights
Child protective services—operated by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in New Jersey—is responsible for ensuring the safety of all children in the state. With that duty in mind, unannounced home visits are sometimes necessary, especially when caseworkers have reason to believe a child may be in imminent danger. But when caseworkers are knocking at your door, your mind isn’t on their objective. It’s on protecting you and your family. You can accomplish this if you know your rights and know how to play their game, and here are some tips on how to do so.
Caseworkers can get a warrant to enter your home if you deny them access. Will initially denying them access send them away? Possibly. Will it prevent an investigation? No. If the caseworker threatens to get a warrant to enter, take them seriously.
Once you let the caseworker in, make sure he or she gives you the details of the allegation. Once he or she leaves, you will want to call an attorney, and that attorney will be able to give you better guidance knowing exactly what the allegations are. You have a right to know the specifics; “abuse” or “neglect” is not sufficient explanation and won’t help you fight the agency.
Try to stay silent. CPS cases are not criminal cases, and caseworkers cannot press charges. Nevertheless, you are innocent—so to speak—until the allegations are proven. The more information you provide, the more you help them out. Don’t agree to the allegations or admit to harming your child, no matter how much they pressure you. Cooperate to the extent that you are required to do, but speak with an attorney before you say anything that could be a red flag to caseworkers.
Don’t trust everything the caseworker says. Caseworkers are overworked and sometimes desperate to make progress in a case so they can check it off their to-do list, which can lead to them trying to get you to make their job easier. They have certain authorities, but they work with very little supervision, and oversights do occur. Make sure you verify anything the caseworker says with a legal professional.
Be polite. Even a slightly bad attitude can leave a bad impression on the caseworker, and that impression can influence their decision-making for the rest of your case. If you are defensive, evasive, or impolite, that can influence how you are treated by the caseworkers. You want them on your side.
Again, speak with an attorney as soon as you can after getting a visit from a caseworker. Before you have another interaction, provide any information, or appear in court, you should seek legal guidance. An experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney can help you through the process step by step, so you make all the right moves and educated decisions in your case.
If you have questions about interacting with caseworkers, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can advise you of your rights and help prepare you to deal with caseworkers productively. 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.