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The Frightening Side of Being the Target of A Child Abuse Investigation
Sadly, many times a parent or adult finds themselves on the wrong end of a child abuse allegation. Under New Jersey State and federal law, any allegations of child abuse, regardless of how remote or unlikely, must be investigated by the relevant agency or jurisdiction. In New Jersey, investigating allegations of child abuse falls to the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP & P), formerly called DYFS, is responsible for investigating any and all allegations of child abuse in New Jersey.
An institutional abuse Investigative Unit (IAIU) team will be dispatched to the home or hospital where the child is located. They are not required to notify you in advance of their arrival. They do not need a warrant to enter your home once an abuse allegation has been filed. Once there, they will perform interviews with all involved parties, including doctors, nurses, parents, and any other witnesses to the alleged abuse.
Typical investigations are generally required to be closed within 60 days. (But that does not mean that they must do so). After the investigation, DCP&P will make a finding (a decision about whether there was abuse or neglect) about your case.
The law does require the investigators to tell you the following information:
- A report of child abuse or neglect has been made and is being investigated as required by New Jersey law.
- General information about the abuse or neglect that was reported.
- The investigators’ names and phone numbers and their supervisor’s name and phone number
Allegations of abuse can lead to a determination of “unfounded” or “substantiated”. If the abuse is substantiated, civil proceedings will begin. The DCP&P is represented by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in court and may seek permanent removal of the child, temporary removal of the child, therapy and classes for the parents, or other treatment options.
If you find yourself on the wrong end of an abuse allegation, is it highly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced family attorney who has experience handling DCP&P matters.