Accusations of Child Neglect
Child neglect is the most common type of child abuse reported, accounting for close to 80 percent of all child abuse investigations by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). Parents, grandparents, guardians, foster parents, and childcare providers that fail to provide for a child’s physical, psychological, emotional, or educational needs are guilty of unlawful child neglect and risk removal of the child from their care.
The South Jersey DCPP/DYFS law offices of Theodore J. Baker provide legal counsel and representation for families facing child neglect or child abuse allegations. It is imperative to consult with an experienced DCPP/DYFS lawyer as soon as you are notified of allegations made against you. Theodore J. Baker combines 20 years of experience with his vast knowledge of the law to protect at-risk children while ensuring the legal rights of parents and caregivers are protected.
Types of Child Neglect
Child neglect can take many forms, often leaving victims with a lifetime of psychological and emotional scars. Physical and mental illness are common consequences of child neglect and can take years of rehabilitation and counseling to fully recover from its affects. There are four main categories of child neglect.
- Physical Neglect: This type of child neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, and supervision for children in their care.
- Psychological and Emotional Neglect: When a child suffers this type of neglect, they often grow up to become adults with low self-esteem, alcohol or drug dependency, mental illness, and anxiety. Humiliation, lack of affection, ignoring the child’s need for attention, and threats of physical harm or punishment are all forms of child neglect and abuse.
- Medical Neglect: Failure to provide or delay medical services can put a child at serious risk for illness and even death. Children who suffer medical neglect can acquire lifelong medical problems.
- Educational Neglect: All children have a legal right to an education, and parents and caregivers are legally responsible to ensure their child attends school regularly. Failure to do so can result in removal of the child from the home, and legal repercussions for the adults responsible.
Signs of Child Neglect
Anyone with knowledge of suspected child neglect has a legal responsibility to report their suspicions to DCPP and child protection agencies. Failure to do so can result in misdemeanor charges against the adults who witness or suspect the abuse. There are some common signs that point to child neglect.
- Frequent illness or absence from school or day care facilities
- Poor hygiene such as unclean hair, tooth decay, or dirty clothing
- Frail, thin appearance and frequent hunger
- Withdrawn or lethargic
- Stealing food
- Lack of medical care for illness, infections, or cuts and bruises
- Early drop offs and late pick-ups at school or unsupervised children after school
- Child worries about where their parent is or if they will be home when they arrive there
- Lack of physical development and growth
- Overly aggressive or passive behavior
- Antisocial or aggressive behavior
- Threats or thoughts of suicide
- Obsessive compulsive behavior
Any one of these indicators does not necessarily point to child neglect, but a combination of these indicators and patterns of continued problems over a period of time is cause for concern. With mandatory reporting laws in New Jersey, adults who suspect or witness these child neglect indicators must err on the side of caution and report their suspicions to child protective or law enforcement officials.
What to Do if You Are Accused of Child Neglect
Receiving notice that you are being investigated for child neglect is an emotional and extremely stressful situation that should never be taken lightly. DCPP officials have the authority to remove a child from the home when neglect or abuse are suspected, or when they deem the children in the home are in danger.
Parents and caregivers may initially react in fear and anger, which is a common mistake made in the initial phases of a DCPP investigation. It is important to stay calm and cooperate fully with DCPP or police officials. Reacting in extreme anger or emotional outbursts are often red flags for investigators.
It is vital that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable DCPP lawyer as soon as you become aware of allegations brought against you. Investigators make the safety of the children their priority, but parents and caregivers need to ensure that their legal rights are also being protected.
South Jersey DCPP/DYFS Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Provide Legal Counsel and Representation for Child Neglect and Child Abuse Cases
If you are facing child neglect allegations or an upcoming investigation by DCPP/DYFS, contact the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-795-9400, or contact us online to schedule a consultation with Ted Baker today. Our Cherry Hill offices serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the communities of Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees, New Jersey.