New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services Lawyers Woodland Park NJ
Custody Attorneys Providing Advice to clients across New Jersey and Passaic County, including Wayne, Clifton, Little Falls, West Milford, and Woodland Park
The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Service (DYFS) is now referred to as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P). This is a specialized unit within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families that receives reports of, and investigates, child abuse and neglect throughout the state. The Division is charged with investigating claims of abuse and neglect, the removal of children from unsafe homes, and unifying families by providing services.
Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect Via DCPP Toll-Free Hotline
Anyone who believes that a child has been abused or neglected can contact the Division in the county in which the abuse is suspected to have taken place. Many times, a DCPP investigation is opened when a person anonymously reports suspected abuse or neglect via the DCPP toll-free hotline. While many calls are anonymous, there are cases in which the calling party is known by the parents or guardians. For example, teachers, school employees, and daycare providers frequently report abuse because they tend to see children more often than anyone else. They also have an obligation to report the abuse and have standard procedures in place for what must occur when abuse is suspected.
Investigations Are Done Within 24 of Complaint
After there has been a report of abuse as noted above, DCPP has 24 hours to investigate the claim. The purpose of the investigation is to ensure the safety of the child in question. A caseworker will go to the home of the child or the school or daycare and begin the investigation. The caseworker will look for all signs of abuse or neglect. This routinely involves visually observing the child, talking to him or her, and interviewing witnesses and the parents or guardians. If the caseworker determines that the abuse has been “substantiated,” meaning that there are some signs of abuse or neglect, he or she may seek the removal of the child from the home.
Temporary Removal of the Child(ren)
A caseworker who suspects abuse and neglect may seek out-of-the-home placement for the child. Often, DCPP recognizes that it is best to temporarily place the child with someone whom they know as opposed to a stranger, and the caseworker will seek the assistance of the alternative parent, a relative, or friend for placement. Unfortunately, not everyone has friends or family who can take the child. In these situations, DCPP places the child with a foster parent.
Prior to the placement, on occasion, DCPP will ask the parent facing allegations of abuse to consent to removal of the child without ever going to court. It is never advisable to do anything without speaking to an attorney. If you do, you may be giving up your right to have the case heard by a judge who could reverse the removal.
Order to Show Cause for Removal
If you do not consent to the removal, DCPP would have to file what is known as an Order to Show Cause with the court to get an Order for Removal. Conversely, if you consent, the case is not heard by a judge. If the case is heard by the judge, DCPP must put forth the alleged proof of abuse and demonstrate that the child would be in danger if returned to the home. The judge will conduct a plenary hearing and listen to both sides of the case. If the judge finds that the welfare of the child is in jeopardy, the child can be temporarily removed. However, the removal is not permanent and it is possible for the children to be returned to the home.
Court Aims to Protect the Children and Unite Families
While the court’s goal is to protect the children, it also has a goal of reuniting families. The court allows family reunification after the parents have received assistance in the form of counseling, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, therapy, and support services. If the parents do as ordered by the court, the children are returned to the parents or guardians.
Consult a Woodland Park NJ Child Custody and DCPP Attorney
The process of being investigated by DCPP and attempting to maintain or restore custody of your child can be daunting. You need an advocate who can act on your behalf and that of your children.
Our attorneys at The Montanari Law Group understand this area of the law and can help protect you against claims of abuse and neglect.