New Jersey Senate to Explore Preventable Causes of Infant Deaths

New Jersey LegislatureA New Jersey Senate committee will hold hearings in 2018 to explore preventable causes of infant deaths in New Jersey. This announcement came from Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph Vitale after the latest statistics showed that 41 infants died from suffocation due to sharing a bed in 2015, which is the biggest percentage of such deaths in New Jersey in a single year. A previous report also highlighted that New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board (“CFNFRB”) had pointed to the issue of bed-sharing deaths for nearly the past two decades, urging hospitals to adopt standards to educate parents and medical professionals. According to Vitale, the upcoming Senate hearing will focus on “environmental issues — from the air babies breathe and where they sleep to racial and socio-economic factors. Public safety and the place you live are key factors in raising a family safely.”

The child fatality review board operates in the Department of Children and Families and was established by the New Jersey Comprehensive Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“CCAPTA”). The CFNFRB’s purpose is to review child fatalities and near fatalities of children in New Jersey in order to identify causation, relationship to governmental support systems, and methods of prevention. In other words: the child fatality review board does not conduct a child abuse investigation to determine whether a finding of child abuse should be substantiated, but, rather, assesses systemic protocols and procedures to identify potential improvements to prevent future child deaths or near deaths. The Board’s review will take place after DCP&P completes its investigation and after DCP&P determines whether child abuse or neglect played a role in the child’s death or near death.

In the course of all DCP&P investigations, the objective is to determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether child abuse or neglect occurred. There are four potential outcomes or “investigative findings” of a child protective services investigation: substantiated, established, not established, and unfounded. Each of these four findings will result in different consequences that have a different impact on the person being investigated and on how the Division will maintain a record of the investigation.

The bottom line is that a substantiated finding will be maintained by the Division’s Central Registry and will be disclosed to certain third parties upon a Child Abuse Registry Check, also known as a CARI check. Thus, it is extremely important to consult with an experienced DCP&P defense attorney if you are being investigated by the Division. If you or a loved one is being investigated by the Division, the New Jersey DCP&P defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are always available to discuss your matter and help with this stressful time. Contact us today.

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