The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), is responsible for investigating reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. The investigations are not criminal in nature, but rather are meant to assess the risks of harm to a child. The investigation then concludes whether substantial evidence exists that a parent or caregiver has abused or neglected the child in question.
Whenever DCPP becomes involved in an investigation, emotions run high. Parents and caregivers are commonly frightened, upset, angry, and resistant when DCPP investigators begin their assessment. DCPP investigators must remain calm and objective in their assessment of the risks to the child, and either remove the child from the home immediately, or conduct a further investigation into the charges against the parents or caregivers.
In such an emotionally charged situation, it is easy to see how procedural errors and mistakes in judgment can happen. DCPP investigators are trained to deal with these situations, but the risk of human error exists.
What are the Most Common Complaints in a DCPP Investigation?
The most common complaints in a DCPP investigation include:
- Insufficient Evidence: DCPP investigators are required to file key evidence to support their assessment of child endangerment or neglect. The condition of the residence, marks on the child’s body, the interpersonal exchanges between family members, the parent or caregiver’s willingness to cooperate with DCPP officials, and testimony from the child and caregivers is essential to support an investigation. Failure to provide this evidence could result in a case being dismissed, which could put the child in grave danger.
- Partiality and Prejudice: It is imperative for DCPP officials to remain neutral in judgment of all parties involved in an investigation. Partiality and prejudice can result in unfair assessments. Personal prejudice based on race, sex, ethnicity, religion, gender orientation, same sex relationships, or age can result in unfair treatment and conclusions in a DCPP investigation. DCPP officials who allow personal prejudice or partiality to cloud their judgment can also face discrimination lawsuits.
- Failure to Include a Family’s History in an Investigation: DCPP officials are first required to assess whether a child is in imminent danger in their home. The priority of the initial investigation is to remove a child from any situation where there is strong evidence that physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect is present. Upon further investigation, DCPP officials are responsible for investigating a family’s history to determine if abuse or neglect is actually present and to what degree. Failure to assess the family’s past with its present situation can result in an unfair assessment of child abuse or neglect.
- Procedural Errors: DCPP officials have a strict protocol to follow in an investigation. Mistakes in procedure or omission of evidence can result in improper conclusions in DCPP investigations. Crucial evidence such as testimony, observations, physical evidence, and logging of all interactions during an investigation is essential to a just outcome.
Contact a New Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Today
If you are facing a DCPP investigation, call a New Jersey DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-210-9776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices serve clients in Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and throughout South Jersey.