The New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) is the agency responsible for ensuring the safety of children throughout the state. It typically launches investigations within 24 hours of receiving a report of child abuse or neglect. In certain situations, the DCPP may remove abused or neglected children from the home and place them in foster care. However, what happens when the child turns 18? The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the child’s needs and wishes.
The Role of the DCPP
The DCPP investigates allegations of child abuse or neglect to determine whether the child is in danger and what course of action would be in the child’s best interest. The agency may interview the parents, visit the home, and order psychological or substance abuse evaluations as part of its investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the DCPP will make a finding in the case. In cases where the allegations are found to be established or substantiated, the child may be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
DCPP Services May Continue Past a Child’s 18th Birthday
Generally, a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18. However, the DCPP acknowledges that youths in DCPP placement who are under age 21 may not be ready to live on their own; many children in foster care struggle with the financial transition into adulthood. Therefore, the DCPP conducts an assessment approximately six months before each child’s 18th birthday to determine whether continuing services are necessary. If it is determined that the child can live independently, then they will be allowed out of the system.
The DCPP cannot legally open an investigation regarding someone over 18 years old, however, in New Jersey, youths can remain in foster care until the age of 21. The DCPP may refer open cases regarding children between the ages of 18 and 21 to law enforcement or other appropriate support service providers.
Those between the ages of 18 and 21 may be eligible for continuing resources and support from the DCPP. Several non-profit agencies in the state provide aftercare services, such as flexible funding, housing, youth advocacy, peer leadership and outreach groups, and assistance with achieving educational and employment goals. A child with an open DCPP case may continue receiving services until their 21st birthday, however, they may also choose to have their case closed upon becoming a legal adult.
Cherry Hill DCPP/DYFS Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Clients Understand Their Rights
If you are being investigated by the DCPP or have a concern, contact a Cherry Hill DCPP/DYFS lawyer at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. DCPP/DYFS investigations can have serious consequences, including potential removal of the child from the home. If your child was placed in foster care after a DCPP investigation and is about to age out of the system, you may have questions regarding your rights and responsibilities as a parent. To discuss your case, please complete our online contact form or call us at 856-795-9400. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey.