Baby Boxes to Be Distributed to Prevent Infant Deaths in New Jersey

New Jersey Baby Boxes ProgramAccording to statistics maintained by the New Jersey Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board (“CFNFRB”), 57 babies died in in their sleep in 2014.

Experts believe that nearly all of those young lives could have been saved if only the infant had been sleeping properly and in a safe manner. Sleeping in a “safe manner” means alone in a crib, on the child’s back, and without blankets, bumpers, or fluffy toys. In fact, the CFNFRB indicated that of the 57 babies who died in 2014, 33 were sharing a bed, couch, car seat, or some other sleep surface with another person. Moreover, according to Kathryn McCans, chairperson of the CFNFRB, “in a significant proportion of these deaths, an unsafe sleep circumstance is a contributing factor.”

Accordingly, beginning this year, New Jersey mothers and their newborns will have a unique tool to prevent a tragedy: baby boxes, or bassinet-sized laminated cardboard boxes outfitted with a mattress and a fitted sheet.

NJ Baby Boxes Initiative

This initiative will hopefully not only save families from suffering the tragic loss of a child but also from having to deal with the resulting investigation by the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”). It may seem harsh and intrusive, but in situations of infant deaths, the hospital or law enforcement agency will notify DCP&P. This will prompt an investigation to determine whether the child passed away due to natural causes or if any abuse or neglect played a role in the infant’s death. Thus, in the face of a horrible loss, a family will also need to answer to DCP&P investigators.

DCP&P investigations typically take place over the course of the weeks immediately after an initial report is made to the Division. During the investigation, the Division will send an investigator to meet with the parents and conduct interviews to assess the circumstances that led to the initial report. Additionally, the investigator will interview any siblings of the alleged child victim, as well as the child victim, if possible. That being said, parents and families are permitted to retain an attorney during the course of a DCP&P investigation to ensure that the Division is not overstepping any boundaries and to protect the family from needless intrusions.

If you are being investigated by the Division, the DCP&P defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are available to lend a helping hand and guide you through the stressful ordeal. We can explain what will happen during a DCP&P investigation and let you know about your legal rights and the potential outcomes of a DCP&P investigation. If DYFS knocks on your door, call the Tormey Law Firm.

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