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DCPP Update:  Fixing the DCPP Central Registry

The DCPP (formerly DYFS) Central Registry is a database that the State maintains as a record of adults who have abused or neglected children in New Jersey.  DCPP practitioners have long had concerns about how the Central Registry works.  In response to some of those concerns, DCPP formulated new regulations about governing investigation findings and the Central Registry.  Please consult our “DCPP Investigations and Litigation” section for a series of new articles on the new regulations.

For the past decade, Howes & Howes has successfully handled legal matters involving allegations of neglect and/or abuse of children in New Jersey.  Neglect and abuse questions arise in two forums:  (1) The Family Part of the Superior Court, and (2) The Office of Administrative Law.  After seeing hundreds of DCPP cases, Howes & Howes found itself agreeing with DCPP attorneys across New Jersey that the DCPP needed to fix the Central Registry.

This introductory comment will serve as a sort of “School House Rock” on how DCPP made the new rules.

There are several sources of law surrounding the Central Registry.  First, there are the statutory provisions found in Title 9 and Title 30 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes.  Second, there is the New Jersey Administrative Code.  Third, there are the published decisions of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division and Supreme Court.  Fourth, there are the published decisions of the Office of Administrative Law.

DCPP controls one of those sources in that it can make rules in its section of the New Jersey Administrative Code.

There are rules for rule-making by DCPP.  First, DCPP publishes a proposed rule in the New Jersey Register.  After the publication of the proposed rule, there is a period in which DCPP must entertain comments.  Then DCPP addresses the comments.  Both the comments and the responses are published in the New Jersey Register.  After the process runs its course, the rule becomes final, and is published in the New Jersey Administrative Code.

The process began with the advertisement of the new rules on February 21, 2012.  There was an extended comment period.  Interested persons had until January 3, 2013 to submit comments on the proposed rules.  Several organizations and DCPP attorneys from across New Jersey submitted comments.  DCPP reviewed those comments.  On November 5, 2012, DCPP publicly addressed those comments and proposed additions to the new rules.  There was a new comment period.  On April 1, 2013, the new rules became effective.

The new rules govern the investigation findings on all allegations of abuse or neglect reported on or after April 1, 2013.  It is important to understand the new rules.  For information on the new rules, please consult the series of comments in our “DCPP Investigations and Litigation” section.  If you have been investigated and if you have received a findings letter, then you should contact our DCPP attorney at (908) 704-0037.

Rule

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