The Value of DYFS Administrative Appeals

When the Division of Child Protective and Permanency (DCPP), formerly DYFS, investigates an allegation of abuse or neglect, the alleged perpetrator is notified, in writing, of the investigation findings.  As of April 2013, there will be four potential determinations from the investigations. But for now, the determination will be either substantiated or unfounded.

If the allegation is substantiated, that means that the Division has decided that the parent has done something to violate Title 9, the statute defining abuse and neglect of children.  See, generally, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c).  In that event, your name will be listed on the Child Abuse Central Registry.  See, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.11.  If the Division does not file litigation, then the only way to challenge the finding is to request an Administrative Appeal.

Administrative appeals are a much easier way to secure vindication than the Superior Court process.  For starters, if the Division is not actively litigating against the parent in Court, the workers involved are generally less married to the notion that the “right” thing to do is to list the parent’s name on the Registry.  Also, administrative appeals are not typically heard until the case is 8 months to a year old.  By that time, the witness’ recollection is stale, evidence eroded and interest waned.

Most importantly, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) actively manages the appeal, conferences with the attorneys and can often be very instrumental in convincing the Division of the fallacy of its position.  While Superior Court judges also conduct conferences, they rarely steer these cases toward settlement.  The case is either tried to conclusion or the parent stipulates.

Administrative appeals are a useful and effective tool to secure the removal of a parent’s name from the Child Abuse Central Registry.  If you or someone you know wants your name removed from the Registry, contact Paragano & Williams, LLC to handle your administrative appeal.