Howes & Howes, Attorneys at Law

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.

D.C.P.P.:  The Song Remains the Same

In 2012, the Division of Youth and Family Services, commonly known by its acronym “D.Y.F.S.”, changed its name to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.  D.C.P.P., as it is now known, appears to be nothing more than the same organization with a new name.  The personnel, the tactics and the results are the same, especially where “low-risk families” are concerned.


Does DCPP Abuse the “Order to Show Cause for Investigation”?

In recent years, DCPP has used the “Order to Show Cause for Investigation” to obtain restraints on parenting time, and to obtain court ordered evaluations.  DCPP’s attorneys recently conceded to the Appellate Division that this practice is not supported by New Jersey law.  Only time will tell whether the Division will reform this practice.


Appellate Division:  Parental Error is not the same as child neglect under New Jersey law

The law requires a fact-finding hearing in every child protective lawsuit.  The purpose of a fact-finding hearing is for the court to determine whether there was abuse or neglect of a child or children under New Jersey law.  At that posture, a parent accused of abuse or neglect is entitled to a full evidential hearing (a trial).  If the trial court finds against the parent, the parent then may appeal.  This past week a parent was vindicated in the Appellate Division case of DYFS vs. FM and LM.


Changes in the Howes & Howes Practice in 2012

Howes & Howes is a small law firm located in the heart of New Jersey.  We are in the twentieth year of service to clients in New Jersey.  With two experienced lawyers and two top-notch legal assistants, we will continue to provide the same level of service to clients as we have for the past two decades, with some small changes due to the appointment of H&H partner Katherine Howes as Judge of the Bound Brook Municipal Court.


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