DCP&P – Child Abuse/Child Neglect

Tanya Helfand of Schenck Price is experienced counsel for representation of parents in DCP&P cases.

The Department of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) 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, DCP&P proceedings include court action giving DCP&P supervision and custody of the child, control and supervision of child visitation, placement of the child in foster care, termination of parental rights, 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 DCP&P 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 DCP&P, a parent’s name will be placed in a central registry. Access to the registry is permitted by statute to specific entities involved with law enforcement and supervision of children. This can have very negative effects on any employment involving children. This can happen without any court intervention. The parent can appeal this finding 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. Even if the Administrative Law Judge orders removal, DCP&P may not and it will be necessary to appeal to the Appellate Division. This is an extremely costly process.

If 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.

DCP&P 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 has represented numerous parents in DCP&P proceedings from the investigation stage through trial. With experienced guidance, there can be good outcomes for the parents and their children.