Parents who find themselves the subject of a child welfare investigation worry about how a prolonged investigation will affect their family. Understanding the aims of the investigators, the specific stages of the process, and what timeline to expect can soothe nerves, promote cooperation, and help families deal with the apprehension of how the case will play out.
Who Runs the Investigation?
The New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) which adheres to state law as mandated under Title 9 and Title 30, requires an investigation into all reports of child abuse and child neglect. Title 9 is the statute for cases of abuse and neglect and Title 30 covers cases where families may require assistance to maintain a safe home environment. The investigators and agency are tasked with fulfilling their obligation to ensure the safety of the child, regarding both their physical and emotional well-being. The agency’s goal is to investigate complaints on behalf of the child, without aim to attack or discredit a parent or caregiver.
What Does the Process Entail?
The investigation starts with a report of suspected child abuse or neglect in the home, or a report of a child at risk of such a scenario. This prompts investigators to visit the home and inform the parents that an investigation has been initiated. As part of the investigation, all members of the household are interviewed. The investigator will not disclose the source of the report, but they should attempt to help you understand the specifics of the complaint. They may also interview teachers, doctors, and others in your child’s life.
Once the interviews are completed, the investigator will decide to classify the home situation inquiry as substantiated, established, not established, or unfounded. The investigation should conclude within 60 days of the initial report, but several factors may affect this timeline. If more time is needed, the court may grant a 30-day extension. This may happen more than once if the court finds sufficient cause. Lack of cooperation may delay the process if investigators are forced to go through the police or court system to gain access to parents or children to conduct relevant interviews. If your family requires services to help improve the home environment, that could add to the length of the process, as could a delay in law enforcement or medical examiner conclusions.
Notification and Appeal
Once the investigation concludes, the parents will be notified of the findings by mail. If the case was determined to be substantiated or established, the parent may challenge the decision by notifying the Office of Administrative Law within 20 days. There will be no automatic hearing in cases determined to be not established or unfounded, but the parent may appeal the finding.
Cherry Hill DCPP/DYFS Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Families Through Child Welfare Issues
If your family is being investigated by the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, you need Cherry Hill DCPP/DYFS lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker on your side. Contact us online or call 856-795-9400 for an initial consultation today. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent families throughout South Jersey.