Child Abuse/Child Neglect

Tanya Helfand at Schenck Price is experienced counsel for representation of parents in DYFS cases.

The Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) is a state agency which, when required, performs protective services for families and children in New Jersey.

In the event of a finding of child abuse or neglect, DYFS proceedings include DYFS supervision and custody of the child, control and supervision of child visitation, termination of parental rights, placement of the child in foster care, and obtaining adoption of the child to establish permanency. The goal is first reunification if the parents comply with services and no longer present a risk of harm to the child.

Not all investigations by DYFS lead to court action. An investigation can be done and the child is left with the parents. However if there is a substantiation of abuse or neglect by DYFS, a parent’s name will be placed in a Central Registry. This can have very negative effects on any employment involving children. This can happen without any court intervention. The parent can appeal this to the Office of Administrative Law. Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. has represented several clients on these appeals for removal of their names from the Central Registry.

The emergency removal of a child requires a court hearing called a DODD hearing. The child can be placed in foster care. However, if a relative is available and suitable, such as a grandparent, the child can be placed with the relative. The parent has a right to counsel and a full trial.

DYFS investigations can start for many reasons. Drug abuse, drunk driving with the child in the car, or even leaving a child alone in the car for a few minutes can lead to an investigation.

Tanya Helfand of Schenck Price has represented numerous parents in DYFS proceedings from the investigation stage through trial.