After a child welfare investigation concludes, the agency (operated by DCP&P in New Jersey) must make findings. The findings are the result of the investigation into the report and are a decision on whether or not a child was harmed, to what extent, and by what factors.
The findings determine what happens next in the case. Substantiated, established, and not established findings all indicate a child was abused or neglected, harmed, or put at risk of harm. Unfounded findings mean there was not a preponderance of the evidence indicating child abuse or neglect as defined by the New Jersey statute and the child was not harmed or placed at risk of harm. After unfounded findings, the DCP&P can no longer pursue placement of the child nor violate the parents’ rights.
It’s important to understand that even if the findings are unfounded, a record of the case—including the results of the investigation— will still exist. Being accused of child abuse or neglect and becoming involved with CPS is a nightmare for any parent. At this point, many parents want to move on from the false allegations and clear their name. Fortunately, unfounded findings mean moving on can be relatively straightforward.
The parents’ names will not be added to the child abuse registry and will not appear on a Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check. Again, a record of the case can be found in the agency’s system, but in most cases, it will be expunged after three years. Expungement means the case record will no longer exist. The record may remain open, however, if the agency receives another report of child abuse or neglect, another one of your family members is being investigated, or the court otherwise requests the case information not be expunged. And, unless the court has ordered you to do something, your involvement with the DCP&P should effectively end.
If you have questions about the results of your child welfare investigation, consult with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney in your area. Unless the findings are unfounded, you can expect some continuing involvement with the DCP&P, even if it is just a permanent record of the case. Moving on from such an ordeal is difficult, so speak with an attorney about your options.
If you are facing allegations of child abuse or neglect, the Williams Law Group is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group can help you face your allegations. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group 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.