Factors that Influence Your New Jersey DCPP Case
If you are placed into the unfortunate and immensely stressful situation of being investigated by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P or Division), it’s important to know what they are looking for. To start, it’s important to understand the four-tier finding system that DCP&P operates within. The Division does not simply enter a finding that an act of abuse or neglect was committed or not. Rather, there are four separate and distinct conclusions that can be reached.
What Decisions can Child Services make in my Case?
The first and worse finding is Substantiated, which means that the parents committed an act of abuse or neglect and on top of that, there is some aggravating factor present. The next finding is Established, which means that the Division found an act of abuse or neglect but there were no aggravating circumstances. The third finding is Not Established. A Not Established finding occurs when DCP&P cannot establish that an act of abuse or neglect was committed but there is some evidence that the child was harmed or placed at risk of harm. The fourth and final finding is Unfounded, which provides that there is no evidence or abuse or neglect and no evidence that the child was harmed or placed at risk at harm.
What Factors Influence DCP&P’s Determination?
To assist the Division in making the appropriate finding, the investigator is obligated to search for and consider the following aggravating and mitigating factors. The aggravating factors include: whether the child passed away, was subjected to sexual abuse, suffered a severe injury, or was repeatedly harmed. Also, whether the child was deprived of proper medical care or whether the parents failed to take appropriate action to protect the child. The Division will also consider the child’s age as a possible aggravating factor.
In contrast, DCP&P is also required to weigh mitigating factors before making a decision. These factors serve in the favor of the parents or caregivers being investigated. Among the mitigating factors, DCP&P must consider any remedial actions taken by parents and whether the underlying claim is an isolated incident and not likely to reoccur again. Whether any extreme, out of the ordinary, and temporary stressors that may have caused the parent or guardian to act in an uncharacteristic abusive or neglectful manner is a key mitigating factor during a child services investigation. The Division must also examine the extent of injury and if the harm is minor, the investigator should find in favor of the parents.
How can I Get the Best Outcome in a DYFS Case in NJ?
There is no way to guarantee a successful outcome if you or someone you love is currently being investigated by DCP&P. However, having an experienced lawyer on your side who understands the process, what influences child protective services decisions, and how best to present a case on your behalf will go a long way to securing the result you are looking for. If you have questions or need help with a child abuse case in Morris County, Essex County, Passaic County, Middlesex County, Hudson County, or anywhere else in New Jersey, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (908)-356-6900 for assistance. A knowledgeable NJ DCPP attorney is available to provide you with a free consultation.