New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency (known as “DCP&P” and formerly known as “DYFS”)
FAQ: What is DCP&P?
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency is the new name for DYFS (the Division of Youth and Family Services). The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), is part of the State Department of Children and Families. DCP&P’s role is to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and child welfare concerns, provide families with services, and to ensure that children are living in safe, stable, and permanent homes – but not necessarily with a biological parent.
If the Division determines that a family needs services, for example substance abuse treatment or family therapy, the Division will offer these services and the family can decide whether or not to attend the services. However, DCP&P may also ask parents or children to undergo psychological or psychiatric evaluations. In certain circumstances a parent may not voluntarily attend services and then the Division will attempt to force the family to comply by taking the family to court.
In other cases where it would be contrary to the welfare of the child to stay with a parent, DCP&P will execute an emergent removal of the child from the parent’s custody. After the Division takes a child from a parent, the Division must go to New Jersey Superior Court, Family Part in two days for the Court to determine whether or not the Division’s removal was legal. The Court will need to find that the child was in an immediate risk and that remaining with the parent would be contrary to the welfare of the child. If so, then the parent will have twelve months to remedy the situation by addressing the issues that led to the removal of the child.
The Division will also determine if a child has been abused or neglected and keep a permanent record regarding the parents who perpetrated child abuse or neglect. If the Division substantiates child abuse or neglect, the perpetrator has a right for that decision to reviewed. The Court will conduct a trial, or a Fact-Finding hearing, where the Division must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent abused or neglected the child, as defined by New Jersey’s child abuse and neglect laws.
After twelve months, if the child cannot return to the parent, the Court may approve to terminate parental rights, freeing the child for adoption. Then DCP&P will file a Complaint for Guardianship to terminate parental rights and unless the case is resolved, the Court will have a trial to determine whether or not the Division proved clearly and convincingly that parental rights should be terminated.
No matter the Division’s level of involvement in your family, you should consider consulting with an attorney to discuss your representation. During an investigation or case that’s already in court, an attorney can protect your rights and defend you. In fact, if a case is in court, you have the right to an attorney and you will be provided a Public Defender if you cannot afford a lawyer.
For immediate assistance regarding your DYFS case, contact our DYFS defense lawyers anytime for a free initial consultation at 201-556-1570.