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Fixing the Central Registry (Part Two):  The legally permitted uses of the Central Registry

In this second part of our series on the DCPP Central Registry, we examine the permitted uses of the Registry.  Under New Jersey law, DCPP must guard all information about abuse or neglect with their livelihoods.  The law protects the confidentiality of DCPP-related information.  DCPP may only release this privileged information in response to a formal request and only in response to very specific types of requests.

Each year in New Jersey, thousands of parents or guardians find themselves under the watchful eye of DCPP.  Each time DCPP receives an allegation of abuse or neglect, it must perform an investigation.  At the conclusion of each investigation, DCPP makes findings.  If DCPP makes a finding of “substantiated”, then you have the parental scarlet letter.  If DCPP substantiates abuse or neglect against you, then you are in the Central Registry.

DCPP attorneys and the courts have long been troubled by the fact that a person’s name may be placed in the Central Registry based on the determination of an individual worker.  The New Jersey Appellate Division has recognized that the scope of “permissible disclosure of names contained in the Central Registry . . . is . . . extensive.” N.J.Div. of Youth and Fam. Servs. v. S.S., 372 N.J.Super 13 (App. Div. 2004).  The persons who are subject to disclosure are:

*Child Care Center employees (N.J.S.A. 30:5B-6.2)

*Resource Parent applicants (N.J.S.A. 30:4C-27.7)

*Kinship Legal Guardians (N.J.S.A. 30:4C-86)

*Residential Center employees (N.J.S.A. 30:4C-27.22)

*Registered Family day care provider applicant (N.J.S.A. 30:5B-25.3)

*DFD (Division of Family Development) Approved Homes (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(g))

*Professional Guardians (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10e)

*Incarcerated parents (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10c)

*Adoption Agency employees (N.J.S.A. 9:3-40.8)

*Adoptive parent applicants (private or DCF).  (N.J.S.A. 9:3-54.2)

*Department of Children and Families employees.

*CASA volunteers (N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-92)

The process is simple.  Any request must be made through a Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check.  If one of the above categories applies, then DCPP is permitted to release your information.  If you have any questions about how the law in this article applies to you, then you are certainly free to perform your own research.  However, it is advisable to protect your livelihood by consulting an experienced DCPP attorney.

Fixing the Central Registry (Part One):  “Substantiated” versus “established”

On April 1, 2013, new rules governing DCPP investigation findings became effective.  In an effort to cure what ailed the Central Registry, DCPP created a new four-tiered menu of possible findings. The new findings apply to allegations of neglect or abuse that occur after April 1, 2013.  They replace the old three-tiered system.  This comment is the first of a series from Howes & Howes explaining the new rules.

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Escape from the DYFS Central Registry:  How to remove your DYFS substantiation

As a parent, one of the most shocking letters you can receive is a letter from DYFS advising you that DYFS has investigated you and found that you have committed child abuse or child neglect.  A finding of abuse or neglect lands a parent in the DYFS Central Registry, a stigma you dont need.  If you receive a substantiation letter, there is a meaningful legal process to protect you.  And when you need counsel in the process, Howes & Howes is prepared to represent you.

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The Role of the Fact-Finding Hearing in DYFS Litigation

Child protective litigation involving D.Y.F.S. both confuses and frustrates parents caught in D.Y.F.S.’s dragnet.  The early part of the process seems hurried and incomplete.  Early hearings are ususally performed in a summary manner, that leaves out details that the parent believes are important.  Parents are entitled to a more in-depth hearing called a Fact-Finding Hearing.  This article provides a primer on the basics of the Fact-Finding Hearing.

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Yes, the Bill of Rights DOES apply to DYFS

One forgotten concept in DYFS work is that DYFS workers represent a government of limited powers.  DYFS workers are not taught that the constitution applies to them, but it does indeed apply to them.  If a DYFS worker comes into your home and tells you to jump, you do not need to ask “how high”.  Your best course of action is usually to consult an experienced attorney for advice on how to protect your family’s privacy.

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New Jersey D.Y.F.S. Cases:  Success Stories

Howes & Howes accepts referrals in all 21 New Jersey counties to represent parents who have been sued by D.Y.F.S..  Ultimately the success of your case will depend on the unique facts of your case, and success in your case can not be judged from past results.  However, it does pay to have an attorney experienced in D.Y.F.S. cases.  Over the past ten years, we have enjoyed success representing parents.  Some of our success stories are digested in this article.  (References that might identify the client have been removed.)

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Frequently Asked Questions:  Court Proceedings in DYFS Litigation

When DYFS removes a child from its home in New Jersey, the law requires litigation to protect the rights of the parent and of the child.  There are several steps in child welfare litigation, all of which are mandated by New Jersey law.  The following is an outline of the steps in child welfare litigation.  Howes & Howes has extensive experience in child welfare litigation.  If you have a question, then you should contact our office.

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