Parents have recently inquired of me as to how they can find out if your name is on the child abuse registry. The registry is maintained by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). These agency records are confidential pursuant to statute. See, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a. However, in certain limited circumstances, one may find out information that is otherwise confidential per statute.
If a parent or guardian is involved in a division matter, confidential information may be released to the extent necessary to help negotiate a case plan or discuss services for a family. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(19).
If the matter is in active litigation, the parent’s attorney may have access to the confidential information. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(17).
Finally, if the information is sought while no litigation is pending by the division, but other litigation exists or is contemplated, the parent may seek a court order to compel the release of the information. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a(b)(6)
If a parent is listed on the registry, they are entitled to appeal this administrative finding. The division will notify the parent in writing of the administrative right to appeal, which must be taken within 20 days of receiving written notification by the agency of its finding. For this reason, the division typically will advise the parent of the existence of a substantiated finding, even if the written notification has been sent to the parent. If the parent has not timely appealed, the division may choose to allow an administrative right to appeal; however, if not, the parent’s only recourse is to proceed to the Appellate Division to compel the agency to allow an administrative appeal.
For more information about gaining access to the registry and other confidential information, please contact our office and schedule a consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.
If a DYFS investigation finds no wrong doing and is closed, will the parents have a record that will stop them from being employed around children?
The parent will only have “a record” if the Division substantiates abuse or neglect. If the allegation is substantiated, the parent’s name is listed on the Child Abuse Central registry maintained by the Department of Children and Families. If substantiated, the aren’t is afforded 20 days to request an administrative appeal. If no appeal is pursued, the substantiation will bar certain limited child-related employment – namely daycares and residential nursing homes.
For more information on the registry, you may want to visit the DCF website.
Allison C. Williams
What about cases that were closed as “unsubstantiated”? DYFS maintains records of these of investigations. “Extensive” employment background checks (employers of caretaker jobs especially, can search BEYOND the central registry, to check deeper; for any “unsubstantiated’ investigations that a possible job applicant may have on record with DYFS -and then refuse to hire them for this reason. This is very unfair, especially when there was never any abuse or neglect to begin with! Not finding employment to provide for our children HURTS our children and does NOT PROTECT children, as DYFS claims they want to do! It also is wrong that DYFS does not NOTIFY the accused parents by certified LETTER in the mail of which tier the parents were labeled under, after a case is closed, such as “unfounded”, “unsubstantiated” or “substantiated”. They have the right to know how their character is being labeled! The whole process is unjust and dirty.
In order to properly address your query, more information is needed. Over the past several years, the division has only had two outcomes for child abuse investigations – “unfounded” or “substantiated”. The third category of outcome – “unsubstantiated” – was done away with several years ago.
For “unfounded” allegations, the records are to be expunged pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6 – 8.40a. Per administrative regulation, this expungement is to occur as of three years following the outcome, unless there is an ongoing criminal investigation, new allegations surfaced during that three-year time period, or a few other similar reasons.
Effective April 1, 2013, the division now has a four tiered system for determining the outcome of child abuse investigations. My understanding is that only one outcome – “substantiated” – will be eligible for listing on the registry. More information about this new procedure will be posted in the upcoming weeks.
But to answer your immediate concern, background checks by most employers do not include the registry. Only licensed daycare facilities, eldercare residential facilities, and foster care agencies are entitled to check the registry by statute. Or any other employer, they may request the information from the agency; however, the agency’s policy is that that information remains confidential absent a court order.
There are certain other limited circumstances when one need be concerned about the registry. For more information about the registry and its impact on those listed, please contact Paragano & Williams, LLC, to schedule a consultation to discuss the matter.
Thank you for your reply and detailed information. I will have to contact your office for consultation as you said because I feel as though our case has been miscategorized -due to the in between times of when the tiers were changed.
I contacted DYFS last year (2012) inquiring about this. They confirmed there was no record found at all of “substantiated” abuse/neglect, but then, when I told the person from DYFS how I have applied at endless jobs, and I had many excellent interviews, (which happen to mostly be at child care centers or senior residences!), and how I then never heard back from any of the employers, she probed the records/registry further, while I was on the phone with her, and then said she found records from back in 2003-2005 that were “UNsubstantiated”.
My question is now, is where did the “unsubstantiated” cases get put? Obviously they are still on record with DYFS to do as they please, but since the tiers were changed right around this time frame, did “unsubstantiated” get placed into the “substantiated” files or “unfounded”, OR can they still disclose these “unsubstantiated” findings to employers?!
I must say that I would NEVER have applied at any childcare center or senior residence had I even remotely known that I had any record with DYFS!! They must all think that I was purposely seeking such places as some sort of perpetrator! I simply applied because I love helping seniors and children. Most of the jobs I applied at were in senior residences, but not even in direct care of them! There was only one child care center that I applied at.
I started to sense something not right after applying at so many jobs and not hearing any reply, so that’s when I contacted DYFS last year.
The original allegations were shocking and cruelly intended, which were made by my stepson, 10 years ago.
He was in and out of behavioral schools (expelled), long before I knew him and before I met and married his father. His own mother couldn’t handle him anymore which is why he ended up being with his dad. I met his father afterward. My stepson had many anger issues and problems with the law- prior to my being in his life, and they continued moreso, when I became his stepmother.
He decided to tell his school one day, that his father and I were abusing/neglecting him to hurt our marriage.
At the time, I never even heard of DYFS!
I originally welcomed him into my life and our marriage, but ended up becoming terrified that he would hurt our new babies and hurt me, because he threatened our lives several times.
He brought very rough friends home, some who we suspect were involved with bad things.
He has caused permanent scars, but the worst scar is the fact that DYFS still maintains past records of “unsubstantiated” abuse that never even happened in the least! This has caused immense pain in my life, to say the very least!
As a matter of fact, I was SO worried about him hurting my babies and myself, that I asked DYFS to protect us from HIM! But they said they couldn’t because he was not yet 18 years old, (an adult!)
So, DYFS was NOT protecting MY children like they were supposed to!
I feel there have been leaks of these false and cruel allegations to prospective employers!
I have stayed home with my own two children for the last decade, because I wanted to care for them full time, and I have loved it, (except for the fear of my stepson always coming back into my life and my children’s).
However, I have been trying desperately for the last 3 years to find part time employment- without success -and I am very concerned that perhaps more information is disclosed to employers than just the “substantiated” cases?
I was told long ago by the DYFS case worker that she was closing the case and she found NO evidence of abuse! So why was our case labeled “unsubstantiated”, and what category is it now placed in on DYFS records?!
This has hurt me deeply in many ways. Nothing matters to me more than the safety of my children and any children! In addition, I need to save money for their futures and these absurd records are preventing employment and destroying my reputation.
I guess that’s what DYFS wanted to do, right?
The reason I have applied in senior residences and childcare jobs was because I love these people, and I know they appreciate me!
SO, what becomes of past records that were closed as “Unsubstantiated”? I suspect they are being revealed on CARI background checks to certain employers.
Only “unfounded” cases can be expunged, which seems very unfair.
It’s also very unconstitutional that I am forever labeled with abuse records that were not only unfounded lies, but I never knew about this and never had a chance to defend myself! Even a murderer in court has the right to do that!
correction, the unsubstantiated investigations were 2003 only.
I apologize for leaving personalized details of our situation on your website. Please delete any entries that you feel are necessary that would come across unprofessional on your pages. I have contacted dyfs and have tried to solve this with them.