New Jersey Attorneys for Temporary Placement in DCPP Cases
Defending Clients Against Temporary Removal of Children in New Jersey Child Protective Services Cases
Has the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) contacted you about removing your child from your home. Here’s what you need to know about your rights and responsibilities.
The esteemed DCPP attorneys at our New Jersey law firm have years of experience providing vigorous defense against child abuse and neglect accusations, temporary and permanent removal of children, and prosecution for fourth degree child abuse in NJ. We handle defense in criminal court, family court, and restraining order hearings involving child abuse and related issues throughout the state. Whether your child has been temporarily removed from your home in Kearny, Middlesex, Bridgewater, Wayne, Bayonne, Palisades Park, Rockaway, Hackensack, or another town in New Jersey, we use or knowledge and hands-on, real-world experience to construct and execute the best possible strategy in favor of your interests. Contact us today at (908)-356-6900 for a free consultation with a child abuse and neglect lawyer dedicated to fighting for you. We are available anytime to answer your questions and discuss representation for your case.
Temporary Placement of a Child by DCPP in New Jersey
A child deemed to be in an unsafe or insecure home may be temporarily placed elsewhere by DCPP, in conjunction with the legal system in NJ. The court oversees the case every step of the way, assuring adherence to strict timelines and the shortest temporary placement, which is defined as shorter than a year. The court reviews DCPP’s reasonable efforts to avoid placement; determines the ongoing safety issues; reads the Child Placement Review Board findings and recommendations; orders services for the family and child and a visitation schedule, if appropriate; examines whether parties are complying with the DCPP plan; terminates parental rights, if the child cannot be safely reunited with parents; and closes the case when no further court action is required.
When child abuse or neglect is reported, DCPP files a verified complaint in the New Jersey Family court, asking for custody of the maltreated child or to supervise the child while they are living in their home (if removal isn’t warranted), naming the parents and other involved caretakers as defendants and DCPP as plaintiff. The Deputy Attorney General serves as the representative for DCPP. Each parent may have a court appointed or private lawyer or choose to represent themselves. A Law Guardian or Court Appointed Special Advocate is appointed for the child or children to represent their needs and wishes. However, families may receive DCPP assistance without involvement of the courts if the case does not require court supervision.
Temporary Removal of a Child from a Home in NJ
DCPP removes children from parental custody with or without an order from Family Court, depending on the immediate danger to the child. If possible, the Division tries to reach a solution with the parents to avoid removal. The Child Placement Bill of Rights declares that children displaced from their home have the right to DCPP’s best efforts to keep them home, and if unable to stay home, to placement with a relative, in their community, with their siblings, if possible. They have the right to regular visits with parents or legal guardian and siblings and to stability, safety and resources to help the child reach their full potential, including legal representation, education, medical care, food, clothing, shelter and socialization. Adolescents have rights to mentoring, training, education, advocacy and healthcare. Children in foster care or institutional care get services from the division and New Jersey’s behavioral health system, Children’s System of Care.
Temporary Placement of Children with Relatives
Relatives and family friends are the first choice for temporary placement. DCPP will first seek to place the child with a relative or family friend who is suitable and willing to potentially adopt and permanently place the child to ease the discomfort of the immediate placement and avoid another placement. Interim placement is discouraged to avoid further disruption to the child. Before placement however, DCPP thoroughly investigates the prospective caretaker’s home and does a background check with local police on all household members. Within five business days of placement, the proposed caretaker must apply for a license for resource parenting per New Jersey law, which allows them a monthly payment for costs associated with caretaking, such as room, board, clothing, health and other support services. The placement, especially if there are several suitable options, is determined by the best interests of the child, given the child’s needs, orientation and connections, in other words, what would promote the child’s stability, safety and thriving.
Child is Temporarily Placed by DYFS in NJ, What Happens Next?
If unable to come to a resolution with the parents or caregivers, DCPP files its complaint and Order to Show Cause (OSC) with Family Court, presenting the facts of abuse or neglect to the court and notifying the parent(s) of the hearing date, time and place. This hearing ordinarily occurs prior to the child’s removal but in emergency situations, no later than 48 hours (two court days) after removal. In addition to avoiding removal, DCPP is tasked with developing a plan with the parents, keeping the parents informed of the child’s progress and health, facilitate visitation and help provide needed services to the family. However, if reunification is not possible, DCPP requests that the court terminate parental rights. If the parents contest the request, the court holds a trial in which the division must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child are served by adoption since the parents are unable to care for their child.
A case worker is assigned to the family and child to assist the family with services, supervision and child necessities in accordance with an immediately devised permanency plan. A plan provides a framework for specific decisions, goals and timeline within which to achieve permanent placement, whether that means reunification with parents or outside placement, including adoption. When family reunification is the plan goal, a secondary goal is always developed in case reunification is not possible. Permanency plans are configured even with temporary placement. DCPP plans for permanent placement in every case of child maltreatment.
A plan documented on the appropriate forms is developed with parents or caretakers, after the case worker’s home visits with parents, child or children, siblings, identifying and locating parents, relatives and family friends. Since reunification does not often happen overnight, assessments are long-term and goals are adjusted so the plan may change over time. The plan considers the child’s age; how long the child has been temporarily placed; the parent-child contacts (frequency and nature); how parents have benefited from services under the plan; the ability of parents to provide a safe home beneficial to the child’s wellbeing; progress made toward goals; the child’s perception of belonging, special needs, preference, and legal status; and the commitment demonstrated by the parents to reunite with the child. Implementing the plan includes directing activities to accomplish the plan’s short and long-term goals by monitoring and reviewing the progress of all parties involved. Case workers also work in conjunction with the legal system, obtaining approval of the proposed plan, reviews and final placement.
DCPP Hearings for Temporary or Permanent Placement
The Order to Show Cause is followed by the fact-finding hearing (within 60 days of removal), where the court determines whether it is more likely than not, given the evidence before the court, that the parents’ actions (or inaction) amount to abuse or neglect, unless the parents already stipulated (agreed) to the allegations in the complaint. At that hearing, parents may bring their own evidence to counter DCPP’s allegations. If abuse or neglect is established, the subsequent dispositional hearing sets the plan in action and the judge orders the necessary services to help the child adjust and the parents to address the abuse or neglect–drug and alcohol rehabilitation, family counseling, parenting skills classes or other services—and schedules the next hearing for two months later. The court’s order must also describe the placement, confirming it is safe and in the best interests of the child and close to the parents or if out of state, reasons for that placement.
Compliance reviews and court hearings occur every two to three months over the first year after the complaint is filed. There the judge reviews the ongoing plan compliance. In these reviews, the judge may change visitation or services according to the needs of the child and reports of the division and service providers, such as therapists. DCPP holds a review five months after placement and The Child Placement Review Board reviews cases in foster care after 45 days into placement to review whether DCPP did all it could to avoid placement. At these reviews, DCPP and the court address the case goal and progress made toward that goal, a confirmation of the safety and appropriateness of the placement, efforts to locate a missing parent, the visitation schedule between case workers and family, as well as visits between family members, the family’s and child’s view of placement, the expected behavior of each involved person, the services provided to help meet goals and needs, the goals and progress of each involved member, whether the causes of maltreatment have been addressed and abated, and the child’s health records.
Temporary Child Placement Resulting in Permanency Hearing
The permanency hearing, where the court orders reunification, adoption, kinship legal guardianship or other permanent placement, must occur within 12 months of the placement. If the child is to be permanently placed by foster or relative adoption, the plan includes the steps the department has taken to place the child with an adoptive family or the relative or caregiver willing to take the child in and become legal guardian, or if permanent placement is not recommended, the reasons for that determination. Plans are reviewed by the court every six months to see if the placement is working well for the child, if changes need to be made, if goals and responsibilities are being met by the parties and the timeframe for reunification or permanent placement, if recommended.
Any party may contest the recommended orders, which prompts a later trial, where parties can present evidence and testimony countering the evidence presented against them. DCPP must prove that the parents cannot take care of their child despite time and services offered to help them, that they caused harm to the child, and that it’s in the best interests of the child to be removed or permanently placed elsewhere. If parental rights are terminated, DCPP must go through the courts to get a child freed for adoption. The Adoption and Safe Families Act requires DCPP to file a termination of parental rights action after a child has been in foster care for 15 months. The Act’s objectives for children are safety, well-being and permanency.
Has Your Child been Temporarily Removed from Your Care by DCPP in NJ? Contact Us Now
If your child has been temporarily removed from your home or is at risk of being removed on a temporary or permanent basis, contact a DCPP lawyer at our firm for immediate assistance. You have a right to an attorney to guide you through the process of keeping your child at home. Exercise that right to an experienced DYFS attorney on your side and fight to maintain your parental rights. We are reachable to provide you with additional information and a free consultation simply by calling (908)-356-6900 or contacting us online. Don’t delay in seeking answers and experienced representation.