When investigators from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), come knocking on the door, parents and caregivers are often overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Knowing what to expect during the DCPP hearing process can help parents protect their child from being removed from the home, or to be returned to the home as soon as possible.
DCPP Hearing Process
When a child is removed from the home by DCPP investigators, parents need to rely on the counsel and representation of an experienced DCPP lawyer during every step of the hearing process. It is a traumatic experience for both parents and children when DCPP takes custody, and a reputable DCPP lawyer can ensure that the child is returned to the home as soon as possible. The DCPP hearing process includes:
- Temporary Custody Hearing: This hearing will take place within 48 hours after DCPP takes protective custody. The court will hear the evidence presented against the parents and determine if the child is in imminent danger of abuse or neglect. If they need to be removed from the home, the judge will grant temporary custody of the child to a relative or DCPP foster family while a full investigation continues.
- Adjudication: During this trial, a judge will decide if the child in question was abused or neglected. If they feel the evidence does not prove abuse, the case will be dismissed. If the judge feels that there is substantial evidence of abuse or neglect, the court will proceed to the next level in the hearing process.
- Dispositional Hearing: During this hearing, the court examines whether it is safe for a child to return home to their parents or caregiver. The judge takes into consideration what efforts the parents have made to remediate the issues that led to the charges of abuse or neglect. Substance abuse programs, anger management therapy, and parenting classes are just some of the services available that can help parents regain custody of their child. At this point in the hearing process, if the parents have not made progress in fixing their problems, the child’s guardianship can be given to a relative or to DCPP officials.
- Permanency Hearing: Once a child’s guardianship has been granted to someone other than their parent, the court will hold permanency hearings every six months. At these hearings, the judge will review efforts made by the parents and the progress that they have made. The judge will also monitor the wellbeing of the child during the separation from their parent.
The court takes into consideration how well the child’s physical and emotional needs are being met, if their education is progressing, and if family visitation has been successful. Goals are set for parents and guardians to meet and will be reviewed at the next six-month permanency hearing. Upon successful completion of court mandated goals, the child can be returned to the natural parents.
Contact a New Jersey DCPP Lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker for Counsel and Representation During all Phases of DCPP Hearings
If you are facing a DCPP hearing, call an experienced New Jersey DCPP lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-795-9400 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and South Jersey.