DCP&P Home Inspections in New Jersey: What To Expect
Why DCP&P May Inspect Your House in NJ
Any time DCP&P receives a complaint concerning potential child abuse or neglect in New Jersey, the agency must investigate the claim. The investigation must begin within 24 hours of receipt and be concluded within 60 days. However, the investigation may be extended an additional 30 days if more information is needed to make a proper determination.
In the course of a DCP&P investigation, the investigator is required to interview the child, the parents, any person who lives in the house, and any individual who may have personal knowledge of the allegations. The investigator is also obligated to review any prior reports of abuse or neglect as well as determine if the parents have a criminal record. Additionally, the child’s physicians, counselors, and teachers may be questioned and if needed, the police or prosecutor’s office may be contacted. On top of that, the child may be transferred to a hospital or appropriate physician if the child needs medical attention. One of the critical components of a DCP&P investigation is a home inspection. If you have been contacted by child protective services about an upcoming home inspection or a case worker showed up at your door to inspect your home, ite is vital to understand your rights and obligations in these proceedings.
Home Inspections in New Jersey DCP&P Investigations
If an investigation for child abuse or neglect has begun, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency is required to inspect a parent’s home to determine if the child is residing in a safe environment. When doing so, the investigator may make unannounced visits to the home and may show up more than once. While in the home, he or she will examine whether the home has sufficient food, running water, and working heat and electricity. The investigator also needs to be satisfied that there are no hazardous conditions inside or outside the home. Further, the Division will also inspect the child’s room to determine if the child has an appropriate place to sleep and has clean clothes. Moreover, the investigator may remove the child’s clothes to check for injuries and if necessary, photograph any visible injuries.
Additionally, during the course of the investigation, the investigator is obligated to examine the child’s needs as well as measure the strengths and weaknesses of the caregivers. The Division’s paramount concern is protecting the welfare of children and therefore, the investigator should be examining if the family needs assistance and if so, what can be done to help the family. For instance, if the parents are struggling to overcome substance abuse problems, the Division may offer counseling. If the substance abuse issues are severe, the child may be placed with a relative or foster care while the parents undergo treatment to insure the child is safe. If the case worker believes that the child may be being sexually abused or physically abused by someone in the home, they have several courses of action available, including recommending the child be immediately removed from the parent’s care.
Case Worker from NJ DCP&P Came to my House
If a DCP&P investigator does show up at your door, it’s important to know that you are under no legal duty to cooperate. The parents do not have to speak to the Division or allow the investigator to interview their child. You also don’t even have to allow the Division into your home. However, it’s also important to keep in mind, if the parents do not cooperate, the Division is free to petition the Court to compel the parents to cooperate. Being under investigation by child protective services can drastically damage your and your children’s lives. If DYFS came to your home in New Jersey, it essential to protect yourself and your family. You have the right to retain an attorney to counsel you during the investigation and speak on your behalf. For more information and to speak to an experienced attorney who can help, contact our office at (908)-356-6900 or arrange a free consultation online today.