The culminating point in a child welfare investigation is the determination of findings. Findings are the results of the investigation. They indicate whether the allegation of abuse or neglect was founded. These findings are divided into four categories. The investigation will result in the agency determining what category the findings land in and whether there were any aggravating or mitigating factors. Let’s take a look at the categories and what they mean.
Unfounded: There is not enough evidence to indicate child abuse or neglect as defined by the New Jersey statute, and the evidence does not suggest the child was harmed or put at risk of harm.
Not Established: There is not enough evidence to indicate child abuse or neglect as defined by the New Jersey statute, but the evidence does suggest the child was harmed or put at risk of harm.
Established: There is enough evidence to establish that the child was abused or neglected as defined by the New Jersey statute, but because of aggravating or mitigating factors, a substantiated finding is not warranted.
Substantiated: There is enough evidence to establish the child was abused or neglected as defined by the New Jersey statute, and the investigation indicates absolute conditions or the finding is warranted based on aggravating or mitigating factors. These findings are added to the child abuse registry.
Despite the circumstances unique to each family, the agency must make informed decisions using the information at hand. Many parents feel like the categories do not fully take into account the particular challenges and strengths of the family. So, while both the agency and the parents want what’s best for the child in question, the agency must make a definitive claim on what risk the child faces and the family, in many cases, has to make changes to mitigate those risks if they want to keep their child safe at home.
The administrative realities of child welfare investigations can seem impersonal, unsympathetic, and mechanical. Sometimes these stringent policies fail to provide the support families need, and, ultimately, this affects the child. If you are concerned about your child welfare investigation, consider working with an experienced child welfare and child custody attorney. An attorney can explain the findings categories and help you appeal substantiated findings that you do not agree with. An attorney can also serve as your advocate during this very difficult time.
Do you have questions about a child welfare case? The attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC know how important your child is to you and will help you with your case step by step to ensure your child is returned to you safely. 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 email@example.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation so you can work with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.