A Paterson mother recently made the news for an incident at Wal-Mart in which she was arrested for shoplifting and endangering the welfare of a child. According to the police, the woman was shopping with her one-year-old daughter and her sister when she was accused of shoplifting. At that point, as she was being taken to the security office, she became upset, and she allegedly placed the child on the floor and kicked her into the office. The child was unharmed and was placed with family members while her mother is being held in jail.
However, this is probably not where the story will end for this young mother and her family. While the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) hasn't publicly said that it will take further action regarding custody of the baby, it's likely the agency will launch an investigation because of the mother's actions in the Walmart.
DCP&P wants to ensure that all children are being raised in a safe, healthful environment. Hence, a DCP&P investigation strives to determine whether a child's home environment meets basic standards of health and safety and if there is any evidence of abuse. Based on the findings of the investigation, DCP&P may make take action against the parent accused of abusing their child.
We don't know for sure what DCP&P will do in the case of this Paterson mother whose emotions got the best of her in a stressful situation. But in cases where the agency is made aware of allegations of child abuse, it often takes action to remove the child from the custody of the parent who is accused of hurting them, sometimes even moving them into a foster home to ensure their safety. Investigators may also conduct interviews or gather information about the parent to try to find more evidence of abuse. When they feel it is warranted, DCP&P personnel may bring evidence from their investigation to family court to file charges against the parent accused of abuse or terminate or limit their parental rights. In other cases, DCP&P may institute a child safety plan that requires changes to the home environment or requires the parent to attend counseling or treatment sessions to address the issues that may have led to their past behavior. Any of these could be possible paths forward for the Paterson mother, depending on the details of the situation.
Protecting Your Parental Rights
A DCP&P investigation is a serious matter, and for good reason—all children deserve to grow up in a safe environment. However, parents also have the right to raise their children in a way that aligns with their values and addresses the individual, complex needs of their children. In many cases, outsiders can form a false impression that someone's parenting style qualifies as abuse, when really it may just differ from their own, and they may report their suspicions to DCP&P. This can lead to a formal investigation, which can have serious consequences for an entire family. If you're facing a DCP&P investigation or legal charges resulting from one, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your situation.