DCP&P Attorney in Camden County, New Jersey

If you are a parent working hard every day to provide for your children and give them a good life, an accusation of child abuse or neglect can be devastating. False accusations risk tearing your family apart and irreversibly changing your relationships with your children. New Jersey parents and guardians should never try to defend themselves from formal accusations of abuse or neglect without the assistance of experienced family law attorneys.

The Lento Law Firm can help if you are under investigation by the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P). Call us at 888-535-3686 or send details of your situation through our website, and our Family Law Team can start working to protect your family today.

The New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency

The DCP&P in New Jersey, a division of the Department of Child and Families, is tasked with protecting children from abuse and neglect. If any children in the state are at risk, DCP&P can take action to remove them from dangerous situations and place them in safe, temporary housing. However, their role in protecting children does not stop after removal.

Part of the DCP&P's job is to investigate and build legal cases against New Jersey residents who are responsible for child abuse or neglect. While the immediate result of some legal actions may be the removal of a child from a household, it can also result in criminal action against abusers or the permanent relocation of a child through alternative placement programs. The DCP&P does not push for harsh criminal penalties in all situations, but they aren't off the table. Typically, their goal is to allow children to remain in the custody of their parents or guardians without the fear of abuse or neglect.

DCP&P Cases and Reporting in Camden County

In Camden County, four local DCP&P offices are present in two locations: North offices in Cherry Hill and South offices in Voorhees. If you are involved in a DCP&P case in Camden County, you will interact with one of the specific local offices at these locations.

The Camden County DCP&P investigates two types of cases:

  • Child abuse cases that allege physical, sexual, or emotional harm to a minor child caused by a parent or guardian
  • Child neglect cases that allege failures by parents or guardians to provide a safe living situation, such as inadequate shelter, clothing, nutrition, and medical care

Anyone who believes or has knowledge of abuse or neglect affecting a Camden County child must report it to DCP&P. Someone who knowingly fails to make a report is a disorderly person under New Jersey law and can face punishment.

If you have knowledge of ongoing abuse or suspect that a former spouse or guardian is harming your child, you need to make a report today and contact the Lento Law Firm to receive ongoing help after the fact. Our Family Law Team can guide you through the process, help you communicate with investigators, and work to secure the best outcome for your child.

How Do DCP&P Investigations Start in Camden County?

Camden County DCP&P recommends that reporters use the statewide abuse hotline to make a report, which will then forward the case to the appropriate local office. After receiving a report, a local office will make a preliminary assessment and send a case worker to the child's home for further investigation. If the report accuses you of neglect or abuse, caseworkers will need to speak with you, the child, and other members of the household. Refusing access to your home and preventing the DCP&P investigation may result in caseworkers seeking assistance from the court system and Camden Police to gain access.

After an initial investigation and house visit, case workers will look deeper into the situation, especially if the allegations are severe or they found evidence of abuse or neglect in their first visit. Caseworkers will interview others who may know about the child's life at home, such as teachers, doctors, and neighbors.

If DCP&P finds evidence that substantiates the allegations of abuse or neglect, they will inform you of their decision and the actions they intend to take. This may result in formal court proceedings that risk placing your child in alternative housing for extended periods. An investigation will last no longer than 60 days but may conclude sooner if the allegation is unfounded.

People who make good faith reports are immune from criminal and civil liability and can remain anonymous during the process. Camden County residents accused of abuse or neglect do not learn who initially made a DCP&P report against them.

Camden County DCP&P Court Process

DCP&P can make administrative decisions following an investigation, which can result in mandated education or training for parents and guardians. However, if they decide to start formal court proceedings, the process will include these steps:

  1. Order to Show Cause: To begin court proceedings, DCP&P must provide proof backing up their claims of abuse or neglect. Witness affidavits are required during this part of the process.
  2. Preliminary Hearings: A Camden County Superior Court will review the evidence in the Order to Show Cause and decide whether your case should continue.
  3. Fact-Finding Hearings: You and DCP&P will both have the opportunity to show the court evidence related to your case, and attorneys can assist you during these hearings.
  4. Dispositional Hearings: If the court agrees with DCP&P evidence and determines you committed abuse or neglect, they then decide on remedies, which can include treatment or the removal of your child from the home.
  5. Review Hearings: Review hearings track your progress if your dispositional hearing mandated treatment programs, therapy, or counseling.
  6. Permanency Hearings: If your child cannot safely return home after one year of the case being open, a Camden court will create a plan for permanent placement and rehousing. At this time, you and your attorneys can argue that circumstances have changed and present a different plan.

While not every DCP&P investigation will result in formal court proceedings, an attorney can also help your case following administrative decisions. After the fact, you can appeal DCP&P's administrative decisions and seek to change any mandated counseling or treatment they impose.

The Lento Law Firm Family Law Team Can Help Camden County Residents

DCP&P investigations and proceedings can be extremely long, complex, and stressful. The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm has assisted parents and guardians facing investigations across New Jersey and within Camden County, and we can help you, too. When your family's future is at risk, don't go through the process alone or settle for subpar legal representation.

If you are involved in a Camden County DCP&P investigation into alleged child abuse or neglect, contact the Lento Law Firm to get started on your defense. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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