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Child’s Rights in NJ – Child Placement Bill of Rights Act

Hudson County DYFS Defense Lawyers

DCPP Attorneys in Jersey City, New Jersey

What are the child's rights in DYFS cases in NJ?

Children’s Rights in NJ DCP&P Cases

Just like parents, children also have rights. Specifically, if the Division of Child Protection and Permanency takes custody of your child, New Jersey Statutes include the Child Placement Bill of Rights Act to promote your child’s health, safety, and physical and psychological welfare. In fact, in all stages of DCP&P protective services and termination of parental rights litigation – Orders to Investigate, Care and Supervision, Custody, or Guardianship – your child will be represented by a Law Guardian to protect your child’s rights. The bottom line is that if DCP&P takes custody of your child, your rights are one thing, but your child’s rights are another. In some circumstances it is difficult to reconcile a parent’s rights with their child’s rights and you may be opposed to the legal arguments that your child’s Law Guardian submits to the court and you should be represented by a DCP&P defense lawyer that is not only familiar with parental rights, but also your children’s rights.

Contact our Hudson County DCP&P lawyers now for immediate assistance in Jersey City, Kearny, Secaucus, Union City, and Bayonne. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge at (908)-356-6900.

Child Placement Bill of Rights Act in New Jersey

A child placed outside of the home has certain specific rights separate and distinct from the child’s parents that are set forth in the Child Bill of Rights. N.J.S.A. 9:6B-2(a). The Child Bill of Rights is designed to protect the welfare of a child placed outside the home and to promote a consistent public policy focused on the child’s eventual return home or placement in an alternative permanent setting. N.J.S.A. 9:6B-2(b) and (c). Thus, the New Jersey Legislature established that children placed outside of their home “shall have the following rights consistent with the health, safety and physical and psychological welfare of the child and as appropriate to the individual circumstances of the child’s physical or mental development.” N.J.S.A. 9:6B-4.

A child rights focus on the overall wellbeing of the child, protecting the child from harm, in general, while in placement and promoting appropriate placement and ongoing visitation with the child’s family. N.J.S.A. 9:6B-4 (a) through (p). According to the Child Bill of Rights, a child in placement shall be free from physical and psychological abuse, from repeated changes in placement and received adequate, safe and appropriate food, clothing, housing and medical care. In addition, a child has the rights to every reasonable effort to enable the child to remain in the home before being placed outside of the home.

If out-of-home placement is necessary, then the child has a right to DCP&P exercising its best efforts to be placed with a relative, in an appropriate setting in the community, with siblings and in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the child’s needs and conducive to the health and safety of the child. That is, if a child is removed from their home, the placement options for the child include a relative placement, a regular resource home, a treatment home, a group home, or a residential treatment facility and the Division must place the child in the most appropriate type of placement. For example, just because a bed is available in a residential treatment facility, a child without any special needs or severe behavioral issues should not be placed in such a restrictive, confined setting because, in addition to suffering the trauma of being removed from their own home, the child would then be subjected to enduring a placement not conducive to the child’s overall wellbeing.

Children in placement also have a right to visitation with their parents and siblings immediately after being placed and on a regular basis thereafter. In fact, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that not only do parents have constitutional rights to enjoy a relationship with their children, but children likewise have the right to visit with their parents after they have been removed from the home. S.M. v. K.M., 433 N.J. Super. 552 (App. Div. 2013). Moreover, when siblings of a child in placement seek visitation with that child, such visitation is the “presumptive state of affairs” and DCP&P would bear the burden to overcome the presumption of being required to provide sibling visitation. In re D.C., 203 N.J. 545 (2010). In such cases, the Division must show that sibling visitation would be inconsistent with the health, safety, and physical and psychological welfare of the child, and is inappropriate to the individual circumstances of the child’s physical or mental development. In re D.C., 203 N.J. 545 (2010).

Jersey City DYFS Defense Attorneys Available Now to Assist You

DCP&P involvement with families can take a toll on both the parents and children, especially when the children are taken out of their home and placed into resource care. In cases that the Division of Child Protection and Permanency takes custody of a child, that child has a right to be placed in the least restrictive setting as possible and to have ongoing contact with parents and siblings. Regardless of a child’s rights that are separate and distinct from their parents, the overarching theme of DCP&P litigation is to promote the best interest and welfare of the children and if you are a defendant in a DCP&P case you should consult with an experienced DCP&P attorney who not only familiar with your rights as a parent but also your child’s rights.

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