Anyone accused of child abuse or neglect is facing a serious situation that requires legal counsel. Allegations of abuse or neglect are not criminal charges, but they can lead to criminal charges if the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) uncovers criminal activity during their investigation.
DCPP often refers cases of substantiated child abuse or neglect to the county Family Court, which does not go onto a criminal record. Cases referred to Family Court prohibit the judge from issuing penalties such as state prison and probation. However, DCPP officials can refer the substantiated child abuse or neglect case to law enforcement or the county prosecutor, which can result in criminal charges. The DCPP can also handle the entire investigation and outcome within their jurisdiction, which eliminates Family Court and criminal charges altogether.
What is the DCPP Process of Substantiating Charges of Child Abuse or Neglect?
When the DCPP receives a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, they will begin an in-person investigation within 24 hours. Case workers will go to the home of the child to speak with parents or caregivers and assess the home situation. If they believe the child is in imminent danger, they will remove the child from the home. A court hearing will follow within days of removal to determine if the child should remain outside of the home or be returned to their parent or caregiver. A final hearing will be held to determine whether the abuse allegations are substantiated, established, not established, or unfounded.
Upon completion of a full investigation, DCPP will send a letter to the parents or caregivers accused of child abuse or neglect informing them of the status of the investigation. In New Jersey, substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect require the parent or caregiver’s names be filed on the state’s Child Abuse Registry. This database will include the parent or caregiver’s name and the nature of the substantiated abuse or neglect.
Can Child Abuse or Child Neglect Charges Affect Employment?
While DCPP cases are most often handled internally or within the family court system, these charges can have a detrimental effect on employment opportunities and the futures of substantiated abusers. The Child Abuse Registry is a database for background checks on all people applying for licensed jobs in childcare, education, and in elder care. Registered individuals are not eligible for employment in these industries. Inclusion on the Child Abuse Registry also limits individuals from becoming foster parents and adoptive parents and will be a detriment in child custody cases.
The Child Abuse Registry does not mean the individual had criminal charges for child abuse or neglect filed, but it does mean that the DCPP investigation found credible evidence that abuse or neglect existed. New Jersey law requires all childcare and elder care employers to check the Child Abuse Registry for all individuals being considered for employment.
Consultation with an experienced DCPP lawyer is critical for those with substantiated charges. The appeals process has strict filing deadlines and evidence requirements necessary for a successful outcome.
Contact a South Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker if You are Facing Child Abuse or Neglect Charges
If you have received notice that you are being investigated for suspected child abuse or neglect, the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-795-9400 to arrange a confidential consultation with a South Jersey DCPP lawyer. You can also contact us online. Our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and throughout South Jersey.