Safety Protection Plans
Child welfare caseworkers may ask parents to sign a document called a safety protection plan. Caseworkers from New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P) implement safety protection plans when they identify safety concerns in the home. In the plans, caseworkers address specific safety issues and ask the parents to follow certain guidelines to mitigate any risk to their child. The DCP&P can ask parents to sign a safety plan to keep their child out of foster placement or to correct certain problems. The ultimate goal is to make changes, so the child can safely return home.
A Request or Requirement?
Parents are supposed to agree to safety protection plans voluntarily. But many parents feel they have no choice. They are pressured into signing them even if they disagree with the specific elements of the plan. Caseworkers craft safety protection plans to address the issues the caseworker believes are putting the child at risk. Examples of requirements in a safety plan include:
- Parental agreement to suspend contact with the child
- Parental agreement to leave the family home
- Parental agreement to undergo substance abuse treatment or counseling
- Parental agreement to keep certain individuals away from the child
Unfortunately, caseworkers tend to err on the side of caution and cover all their basis in the plan. The plan requirements could go beyond the scope of what’s appropriate. As a result, parents have to jump through endless hoops to comply. Not surprisingly, many parents find themselves disagreeing with what the plan says but fear they have little room for negotiation.
Following your plan won’t necessarily keep CPS out of your life. You should know it is not uncommon for safety plans to include unnecessary steps or make unreasonable requests of the parent. At the end of the day, your safety plan should only include absolutely necessary actions. Failing to follow your plan can complicate matters and keep the DCP&P in your life longer.
What to Do if You Disagree With Your Plan
You should speak with an attorney before signing a safety plan. Have an experienced New Jersey child welfare defense attorney review the plan to make sure it is reasonable and necessary. Once you sign the plan, you must follow it. If you don’t, the DCP&P can use that against you as a reason to put your child in foster placement. It sounds unfair, but it happens to well-meaning parents all the time. Even if your case hasn’t gone to court yet, you can benefit from the advice of an attorney before you agree to anything.
Has CPS contacted you? The knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC can defend you and ensure your rights are protected. 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.