When a complaint is made to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) is obligated to investigate the claim. Although this is a necessary process, if you are on the receiving end of such a claim, it can be a scary and overwhelming experience.
In New Jersey, the DCF is the agency that handles policies and procedures relating to children and families. This agency has several departments like Adolescent Services, Advocacy, Education, and Family and Community Partnerships, all of which offer services to families within the state.
The DCP&P, which stands for the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, is a department within the DCF that handles reports of child abuse and neglect. Part of this department’s responsibility is to perform an investigation into all claims of child maltreatment and, when necessary, make arrangements for the child’s safe extraction from a home, such as foster care or residential placement. The DCP&P also arranges services for the family, including counseling, skills classes, substance abuse treatment, and in – home services.
If someone reports a concern that involves you and your family, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an investigation. While this is a necessary process, it is vital that you know your rights during the investigation and that you can productively work with the DCP&P while still protecting yourself. The following are facts you should know about DCP&P studies and your rights during the investigation process.
The DCP&P can show up unannounced. Investigators are allowed to show up without prior warning. They are also entitled to enter your home and talk to your family without a warrant.
There are three things the DCP&P has to tell you. Investigators must tell you that a report of abuse or neglect has been made, and they’re investigating the claim. They must tell you general information about the nature of the claim report. The investigators must also give you their names and phone numbers and the contact information of their supervisors.
You won’t be told who called in the report. Reports can be made a nonymously, and even if they aren’t, you are not allowed to find out who made the report against you.
You do not have to talk to investigators. Once you begin talking to investigators, you agree to be interviewed. If you refuse to give an interview, the investigators must leave. However, they may choose to request a legal order to investigate from a judge. If this happens, you will be summoned to court and have to attend hearings for your case.
The DCP&P are not police. Investigators are not police and can not arrest you. If they find abuse or neglect is occurring, they report those findings to a prosecutor. At this time, the police may become involved.
Investigators can interview your child. Investigators are allowed to interview your child with or without your presence. They are also entitled to question your child at school without your consent.
Investigators can take pictures and look for evidence of abuse. Investigators are allowed to take pictures of your home or your child. They can remove clothing to search for bruises or other markings and take photographs, although this is often left up to a doctor.
Read any releases carefully before signing. Investigators may ask you to sign a medical release or other papers. Always read these carefully before signing, and don’t feel pressured to sign something you don’t understand. Ask for more time and seek the help of an attorney or other advocate before signing.
Investigators can take your child. If they deem it necessary, investigators are allowed to take your child; however, they must get a court order within two days. Additionally, they must make efforts to keep the child at home before taking them out of the situation.
A family law attorney plays an essential role in protecting your rights as a parent during this emotional and challenging period. You may feel overwhelmed when a state agency begins an investigation into your family.
Working with Epstein Ostrove will be critical in getting the best outcome for your case. Family law is complex and navigating the legal landscape on your own can be scary. Contact Epstein Ostrove, LLC today for support and guidance. We are here for you to answer your questions and protect your rights in the legal system.
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