In New Jersey, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is a state agency responsible for protecting children – it investigates reports of child abuse and neglect. Its representatives collect information from household members and others who were in contact with the child.
The DCPP uses terms you might be unfamiliar with, like “collateral contacts.” It can be hard to track how your DCPP case is proceeding if you do not know what this refers to. The DCPP will speak with different parties about the abuse and neglect allegations during the course of their investigation. Besides the child and parents, they might want to interview other people in the child’s life who are not part of the immediate family. They are called collateral contacts or collaterals.
Your case might have several collateral contacts. These typically include:
- Law enforcement officers
More distant relatives like aunts, uncles, and cousins may also be used as collateral contacts. The child welfare professionals involved in the case should attempt to have releases signed by the parents and child before information from a collateral contact is shared, particularly when the information relates to the child’s safety, health, and treatment. Collateral contacts can be contacted and interviewed during a DCPP investigation.
Are Collateral Contacts Important to DCPP Investigations?
DCPP representatives seek out collateral contacts knowledgeable about the child’s situation. Collaterals typically know the family’s situation but might not be personally involved. Once the information is gathered, it can be used to support or corroborate information provided by the child’s household members. It is frequently used in child custody cases to offer details about the child, parents, and caregivers.
Family members can be valuable resources for DCCP investigations. In addition to providing corroborating information, they can offer the family physical, emotional, and financial aid. If the non-offending parent is unable to protect the child from abuse or retaliation, a family member might be able to help with that as well.
Community professionals also serve a vital role as collateral contacts. School personnel, including teachers, nurses, and administrators, can corroborate information that helps confirm and deny allegations. They can also share details about the child’s behaviors and family relationships. Like medical professionals, they can also have insights into the child’s medical and psychological conditions.
Is Collateral Contact Information Kept Private?
The DCPP professional can share certain information with collateral contacts within the limits of the law; their own agency’s policies also apply. They are required to explain why other information about the allegation cannot be shared. It is permissible for them to educate the referral source about the meanings of the findings. Still, they must also emphasize that any information released will not be shared with others.
Contact Our South Jersey DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for Legal Guidance With Your DCPP Case
If you are struggling with DCPP issues, our skilled South Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker can help. For more information, call 856-210-9776 or complete our online form for a confidential consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.