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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.

Every time DYFS receives an allegation of abuse or neglect, it investigates.  There are many different types of abuse or neglect under New Jersey law.  There are the more serious such as physical abuse or sexual abuse of a chile, and there are the more subtle forms of neglect, such as substance abuse, failure to protect, environmental neglect or educational neglect.  DYFS is supposed to apply the facts as it finds them to New Jersey law and determine whether an allegation is substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded.

If DYFS substantiates abuse or neglect against you, then you are listed in the DYFS Central Registry.  The nature of the substantiation does not matter.  Child molesters are there right along side people who made a mistake, and committed a less serious form of neglect..

The Central Registry is not public.  Under New Jersey law, the permissible disclosure of names contained in the Central Registry is extensive.  Disclosure that your name is in the Central Registry can injure your good name, and significantly limits your capacity to obtain employment in a vast array of education-related jobs.  For a law-abiding person, being lodged in the Central Registry is a major legal problem.

How do you get out of the Central Registry?

To get out of the Central Registry, you must take advantage of the administrative appeal process.  To do that, you must appeal the substantiation within 20 days of receiving the substantiation letter.  After you enter your appeal, you will exchange discovery with DYFSs attorney, hold a pre-hearing conference, before the case proceeds with a full hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

You have the right to counsel.  Howes & Howes regularly represents and counsels clients in the Administrative Law process.

If you do not prevail before the Administrative Law Judge, then you have the right to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

The courts must take a very different approach than DYFS.  They are the checks and balances on DYFS.  The Appellate Division has found that it, ғmust not sacrifice our common sense of the situation to the Divisions zealous stewardship of the rights of children.Ҕ In other words, the courts will consider the rest of your lifes work.  If the event was an aberration, and not part of a pattern, then you have a good chance of being removed from the Central Registry.


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