The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is an organization that aims to ensure that all children live in stable and secure homes. In the event that a parent is abusive or neglectful, the DCPP may remove the child until an investigation disproves the claims or until the courts decide that reunification is possible. However, this length of time apart is often devastating for a family. This is especially true if the report of child abuse or neglect is false. Parents whose child was placed in foster care should contact a lawyer to explore their legal options.
Why are Children Placed in the Foster Care System?
A child is only removed from their home and placed in foster care when there is a serious concern for their safety and well-being. There are a variety of reasons why a DCPP officer may remove a child from their home. Many of the reasons center around physical or mental abuse. Child abuse is prevalent in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that nine out of every 1,000 children are mistreated.
Some reasons why children are placed in the foster care system include:
- Signs of injuries or physical abuse.
- Signs of sexual abuse.
- Signs of neglect, including physical, medical, and emotional neglect.
- Truancy or when a child refuses to go to school.
- Parental incarceration.
- Parental abandonment.
- Parental death.
- The child is a runaway.
- The child has juvenile offenses.
- The parents asked for voluntary placement.
By law, the DCPP must investigate all reports of child abuse and neglect. This means that even false reports of neglect and abuse will be taken seriously and could lead to a child being put in foster care. After a report is made, a DCPP officer may remove the child from their home until the investigation is complete. If the investigation finds that the claims are true, the parents still have an opportunity to take legal action to get their family reunited.
What Happens if My Child is Placed in Foster Care?
The DCPP will first try to work with a family before filing an order for a removal. However, if the DCPP and the guardian are unable to reach a mutual conclusion, the DCPP will file a complaint and an order to show cause (OSC). After the DCPP files the OSC, they will notify the parents of when to expect their hearing. If their child is already removed, the parents will receive a notification of the hearing within 48 hours of the removal.
When a child is placed in foster care, the parents will begin a process that will ultimately determine when they can expect their child to return to them. It is important that parents show up to this initial hearing and all subsequent hearings, including the fact finding hearing, the dispositional hearing, the review hearing, and the permanency hearing. This makes a good impression and shows that the parents are proactive in getting their child back as soon as possible. They should also contact a lawyer immediately in order to begin building their case for court. This will help their chance of gaining back custody of their child.
After hiring a lawyer, the parents should try to understand the allegations against them. They should look at the report and write down any details of their side of the story. After writing down any details, they should work alongside their lawyer to recruit anyone who witnessed the incident that could help support their story. These are important first steps that could help disprove the allegations against the parents in court.
During this time, their child may be placed with a foster family or with a relative. This is due to the Child Placement Bill of Rights that helps to keep children and their siblings in the homes of relatives. However, the DCPP will complete an investigation of the relatives and do a background check before placing the child in their custody. The family will also have to apply for a license to get a monthly payment to cover any costs associated with the placement, including board, food, clothing, and any medical attention they need. The parents have the right to visit their child during their placement and are encouraged to do so.
What Steps Should I Take to Regain Custody?
During the course of the case, a judge may require that the parents take action to address the issue that led to the removal. This may include alcohol or drug counseling or treatment, classes on parenting skills, family counseling, amongst other services that can help reunify a family. Parents who get to this point in the case should comply with any services offered in order to get closer to getting back custody of their child.
An important hearing that will occur within one year of the removal is the permanency hearing. This hearing will determine the child’s permanent living situation. Some potential permanency plans include reunifying the child with their family, giving the child’s relatives permanent custody, or filing an order to revoke the parents’ parental rights. If the parents’ rights are revoked, the child is eligible for adoption. This outcome is devastating for a family, especially if they took the necessary steps for reunification. However, the family can contact their lawyer and file an appeal to overturn the decision.
Haddonfield DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Parents Whose Children Have Been Placed in Foster Care
If your child has been placed in the foster care system, you need to contact a Haddonfield DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. Our lawyers understand the emotional challenges of being split up from your family. We help represent families in order to get them reunited. Complete our online form or call us at 856-795-9400 for an initial, private consultation. With an office located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.