Unsuitable Living Conditions for Children

March 4, 2020

Parents and guardians of young children are required to provide for the children’s basic needs. These needs are part of providing adequate living conditions to support their health and safety. If they do not, they are putting those children in danger, which could threaten their custody arrangement. In extreme cases, it could involve criminal penalties.

The requirement to meet basic needs covers feeding, clothing, and providing shelter to the children in your care. Feeding entails providing adequate food to ensure they thrive, clothing includes making sure that they are appropriately dressed for the weather, and shelter involves a protection from the elements, but it also means a safe shelter from other harms as well.

What Constitutes Unfit Living Conditions?

Living conditions unfit for a child are those that put the child at risk of physical injury. The environment could be physically unsafe, such as when there are unsanitary conditions that threaten disease or injury, or it could be threatening in other ways.

A home with an abusive family member is a dangerous environment for a child. Even in situations where no physical violence is involved, a caregiver may undermine the child’s safety by locking them out of the house, providing too little food, or denying medicine or medical attention.

A caregiver may also put a child in danger by exposing them to criminal behavior, drug use, or other inappropriate conduct. Children can be endangered in a home shared with a family member with a history of violence. Domestic incidents with other adults create the need for evaluation. Likewise, when one child is harmed, it can necessitate the removal of other children in the home.

Even if the child is not the target, witnessing situations that involve verbal or sexual abuse, intimidation, isolation, or other abuses can create a hostile environment for a child. Caregivers who suffer from addiction or mental illness may create barriers to a safe environment. Caregivers must seek appropriate services and treatments to provide a safe situation for their children.

What Happens If You are Accused?

If the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) receives a report that your home is unfit for the children who live there, the agency will investigate the claims. If the investigation finds that the claims are substantiated, a complaint will be filed to protect the child. This may entail suggestions for how to remedy the situation by making improvements to your home or living situation.

In some cases, the child may be removed until the resolution is in place. If the attempts are unsuccessful or disregarded, an alternative arrangement may be established, such as foster or kinship care. Eventually, a permanent placement may be found to provide a satisfactory home for the child.

New Jersey DYFS Attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Represent Clients Facing Accusations of Unsafe Living Conditions

Being the subject of claims related to unsuitable living conditions for your children puts you at risk of losing custody of your children if you are unable to set things right. If you find yourself in this position, you may benefit from the advice of a New Jersey DYFS attorney at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-795-9400 to learn more. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.

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