Anytime the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency receives a report of child abuse or neglect they must carry out an investigation within 24 hours of receiving the referral. The DCPP does not need to notify the family being investigated. This can be the start of an intimidating and confusing process for the parents. A DCPP investigation might entail the following:
- A visit to the home where the child resides to assess whether proper care is being provided and if the child is in imminent danger
- Asking for medical records to be released for review
- Conducting background checks to see if the alleged perpetrator has a criminal record or a history with the DCPP
- Interviewing other caregivers in the child’s life including teachers, doctors, and other family members
- Interviewing the child if he or she is old enough to answer questions and usually also the child’s immediate family members
If the initial investigation determines that the safety of the child is at risk, then one of two things can happen. The DCPP may outline a safety plan where contact with the child takes place under supervision. The parents may also be asked to attend parenting classes, counseling, therapy, or other services offered by the Division. However, if the situation is deemed to be an immediate danger to the child, the DCPP may choose to remove the child and place them with a relative or into a resource home.
How Long Does a DCPP Investigation Take?
The DCPP is required to complete their investigation 60 days after the report was received. However, if necessary the process can be extended in 30 day increments. At the conclusion of the investigation the DCPP sends a letter that contains their findings. The Division does not have the authority to file charges or arrest anyone they are investigating. Instead they pass relevant information on to the County Prosecutor’s Office in cases that warrant criminal charges.
What Should I Do if DCPP Visits my Home?
Because the DCPP is not required to inform families before they make a home visit, parents are often caught off guard when a caseworker shows up. During the course of an investigation there could be multiple unannounced visits. You are not obligated to answer questions but if you do this is seen as consent to be interviewed. The caseworker must inform you of the allegations against you and that an investigation has begun. You have the right to ask them for their name and phone number and the name and phone number of their superior. Consult with an experienced DCPP lawyer so that you are aware of all your rights under the law.
Compassionate South Jersey DCPP Attorneys at The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Advocate for Parents Navigating a DCPP Investigation
You do not have to go through a DCPP investigation alone. Contact a skilled South Jersey DCPP attorney at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for experienced and compassionate counsel. Schedule a consultation by calling 856-795-9400 today or complete our online form. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients in Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and throughout South Jersey.