Adoption and Safe Families Act for DCFS Abuse/Neglect Cases in NJ

Child Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Explain ASFA in New Jersey DYFS Matters

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Adoption and Safe Families Act in NJ

Are you concerned because your child was removed from your care and put into the foster care system? You probably already know that there are many things you can do to try to get things in place for your child to return home sooner rather than later, enlisting help from an experienced New Jersey DCPP/DYFS lawyer chief among them, but it’s also key to get a handle on what happens in the interim when your child enters the foster system. One piece of legislation known as the Adoption and Safe Families Act will influence their stay significantly, especially if a child abuse and neglect investigation results in DCPP action to remove the child from your home. If your child is removed from your home as a result of concerns over child abuse or neglect, the ASFA has important implications for how long your child might remain in foster care. Here, you’ll learn more about the Adoption and Safe Families Act and what it has to do with child abuse and neglect/DCPP cases in New Jersey. To discuss a specific child abuse or neglect matter with a knowledgeable attorney, we encourage you to contact us at (908)-356-6900.

Adoption and Safe Families Act: Basics of the Law

This federal legislation from 1997 was brought about due to concerns that many children removed from their original home were spending a great deal of time in foster homes or being transferred to multiple foster homes. Therefore, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires that involved stakeholders monitor these situations and put the child’s safety as the chief concern through the process of permanency planning. The law has a few different facets at the federal level, including:

  • Allows for evaluation of family reunification and other permanent placement options for a child who enters the system
  • Explains that the safety of the child should be the paramount concern at each stage of the review and case planning processes.
  • Makes it the responsibility of the states to look for permanent placements or adoptive placements for children, including other relatives in the family.
  • Mandates state requirements for the termination of parental rights filing if the child has spent at least 15 of the most recent 22 months in foster care and allows for expedited services if the child is in harm’s way in their current situation.

The primary goal of DCPP and agencies like it around the country is to more closely monitor how a child is doing in foster care and to make recommendations when the child is becoming subject to a long-term stay or moving throughout multiple homes. The priority is to look for a long-term place where the child’s well-being and safety will be top of mind and where the child’s development is most likely to benefit in the form of a stable, long-term relationship.

What is Concurrent Permanency Planning in New Jersey?

As a parent with a child who enters the foster care system, you’ll have many questions and hear new terms about the status of your case. One such example is Concurrent Permanency Planning. A concurrent or backup plan has to be developed for each child entering foster care in the event that family reunification is not possible within legal timeframes established by ASFA. The primary goal for every child is to return to their original home, but from the outset of a foster care placement, the agency should be prepared with a backup goal of placement with another permanent family. Having two plans enables the backup or concurrent option to be exercised more quickly if the child is nearing the 15 of 22 months rule or has experienced instability due to moving from one foster home to another.

The most important person involved in this role is the DCP&P caseworker assigned to your child when they are removed from your care following an abuse or neglect investigation. The DCP&P caseworker will meet with you to create a plan focused on ways to remove your child from foster care and bring them back home. If you do not implement the plan and your child has been in foster care for a year, this is the timeframe in which the DCP&P caseworker will evaluate whether permanent adoption with another family is appropriate. The caseworker, of course, will communicate with you in the timeframe leading up to this and will be making reports to the court, too. It is in your best interests to follow guidelines given to you by the caseworker and to show forward progress if your goal is family reunification.

Wondering How Federal Law Impacts Your DCP&P Case in NJ?

If you have questions or further concerns about how the Adoption and Safe Families Act and other federal laws could impact you and your family in New Jersey, now is the time to schedule a consultation with an experienced DCP&P defense attorney in NJ. Child abuse and neglect cases can be extremely complicated, but having a relationship with an attorney who knows the law and the process, can make sure you understand your rights, and will vigorously defend you in permanency proceedings, can go a long way toward regaining custody of your child and reuniting your family. Call (908)-356-6900 for a free consultation today. Our lawyers can answer your unique questions and explain how state and federal laws become relevant in your case.

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