The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is an agency that investigates claims of child abuse and neglect. After receiving a referral, the agency initiates an investigation on the child’s parents. This serious accusation could lead to a family losing custody of their child.
Due to the severity of the case, it may take a long time before the parents find out the result of their investigation. This may leave many families anxious and worried about what to expect. Anxiety and negative experiences from DCPP caseworkers may leave parents wondering if they can advance their DCPP case. In certain circumstances, it is possible to advance a case. A DCPP lawyer will be able to assist a parent.
What is the Goal of the DCPP?
The DCPP is an agency that aims to prevent child abuse and neglect in New Jersey by investigating referrals. After an investigation, the DCPP will determine if the accusations of abuse or neglect have merit or not. If they do, the parents may lose custody of their child.
Child abuse and neglect includes:
- Physical neglect
- Psychological neglect
- Emotional neglect
- Educational neglect
- Medical neglect
If an investigation concludes that the accusations are valid, the parents have the opportunity to appeal the decision. In the meantime, the family should work with investigators or police figures, keep calm, and avoid letting one’s anger or emotions take over.
How Long Does a DCPP Case Usually Take?
In order to determine how long a DCPP case will take, it is important to know the process of a case. All cases begin with a referral of abuse or neglect. After this referral, the DCPP will initiate an investigation into the claim. The investigation should take 60 days; however, this period may be extended in 30-day increments in certain circumstances.
After the process is complete, the investigators will determine whether they found evidence that either supports or disproves the accusations of abuse or neglect. Once the DCPP makes this decision, the family will receive a notice of the agency’s findings. If the agency determines that the accusations of abuse or neglect are substantiated, the family has a right to a hearing. This hearing takes place before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (OAL). During the hearing, the family has an opportunity to challenge the DCPP’s decision. Parents should note that they only have 20 days to notify the OAL to challenge the decision.
What Happens if the DCPP Fails to Correctly Handle the Case?
In some cases, caseworkers make mistakes; however, these errors lead to long-term pain and suffering for a family. Whether the DCPP caseworker fails to follow protocol or mishandles evidence, it could lead to a child being taken away from their family.
One way to take action against the DCPP is to first initiate concerns with the caseworker. This step alone may help to avoid a long-winded battle with a higher-up representative. The family should document their complaint, like a written grievance. This written grievance may lead to a new caseworker handling the family’s case. If this does not help to resolve the issue, the family should start looking at the next person in the chain of command.
The next representative in the chain of demand is the Supervising Family Service Specialist, then the Casework Supervisor, the Local Office Manager, and the Area Director. The family should continue to work up this chain of command until their concerns are met. Families are encouraged to keep written documentation of all correspondence with the DCPP.
Do I Have a Right to Sue the DCPP?
If the family’s concerns have still not been met, they can file a lawsuit against the DCPP; however, filing a lawsuit against the DCPP is a very difficult process. The DCPP is an agency that is run by the state, which makes it immune from most lawsuits. If an individual is interested in taking this route, they should first contact a lawyer to see if they have exhausted all options. If they have a case, their lawyer can find and present the necessary evidence in order to prevail.
Most cases against the DCPP cite negligence. Many of the cases are filed by parents or guardians on behalf of their child. Oftentimes, a DCPP caseworker fails to intervene, which leads to a child being harmed or injured. The plaintiff must prove that the DCPP caseworker or another representative was negligent in their ability to protect the child.
In order to win the case, the plaintiff must prove that the DCPP has a duty of care to protect the child. They must prove that the DCPP breached this duty of care, which ultimately led to the minor’s injury. Additionally, they must prove that the injury was directly caused by the breach of duty of care. A family interested in learning more should contact a lawyer.
Haddonfield DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Protect Parents Against Child Abuse Allegations
If you are being investigated for child abuse or neglect by the DCPP, you need to contact a Haddonfield DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. An accusation of child abuse or neglect is very serious and can lead to a family losing custody of their child. If you are interested in consulting a lawyer, contact us online or call us at 856-210-9776 for an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.