Formerly called the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) is the state of New Jersey’s child welfare agency. They are responsible for investigating claims of abuse and neglect. They can file a complaint against you based upon the belief that you have abused or neglected your child
What happens if DYFS/DCP&P thinks my child has been harmed or is at risk?
DCP&P has wide range powers. Based upon the nature of the allegation, the Division can monitor you and your family without any court involvement, file for care and supervision can have the court monitor you, and lastly, move to terminate your parental rights. It is critical that you know your rights concerning this process, and have aggressive representation. The process is confusing, and a lawyer can greatly help your chances of getting what is best for you and your child. Be honest with your lawyer about all of the details of your situation, and share any information that may help you case. Always be cooperative and polite to DCP&P employees. This is a traumatic event but the DCP & P workers are just doing their job. It will make the process go by much more smoothly if you are cooperative. The case will begin by DCP&P filing court papers, known as an Order to Show Cause and Complaint. An Order to Show Cause and Complaint tells you to appear in court at a specific date, when the judge will hear your case. In the Order, DCP&P will give an explanation of the reasons they think your child has suffered abuse. If DCP&P is removing your child from your home, the Order will set forth key evidence in the Division’s case. At the filing, you should be present, or if you are not DCP&P will provide you with a copy of the papers. At this point, it is highly recommended that you get an experience DCP&P attorney. Susan Clark Law Group, LLC will development a plan to aggressively represent you and discuss your best options.
DCP&P says my child has been abused. What does this mean?
The law denotes that a child has been abused if their caretaker, parent, or guardian has done any of the following:
• Abandoned the child;
• Formed a risk that could physically harm the child, or allowed someone else to do so;
• Failed to take proper care of the child, and thus harmed or created a risk of harm to them;
• Excessively punished the child through physical means;
• Exposed the child to sexual abuse;
• Created major physical or emotional harm to the child, or allowed someone else to do so.
A judge will make the decision of whether a child has been abused, based upon the specific facts of your case. Often, findings of abuse and neglect are based on the child’s physical injuries, or else of evidence of very serious emotional harm. Alternatively, even if your child has not experienced serious physical harm in your care, a judge might base their decision off of a risk of harm. For example, leaving a child unsupervised and alone can be considered neglect. Other occurrences that may constitute abuse are a caregiver’s drug or alcohol abuse, or the failure of a parent to protect a child from someone they should have known would attempt harm.
What if a judge says I have abused my child?
If this is the case, your name will be added to the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry when the DCP&P investigation is ended. This action is permanent, and even if your child is returned to you, your name will remain on the registry. This will have repercussions including preventing you from being employed in certain jobs involving children, disabled adults, and elderly adults. It could also prevent those in your household from becoming foster or adoptive parents, or caring for relatives. Police and other agencies will have access to the names of people on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry. Only if the judge concludes that you have not abused your child will your name be removed from the registry.
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