The Importance of Appealing a DYFS/DCPP Substantiation of Abuse/Neglect

If the Division of Child Protection and Permanency substantiates an allegation of child abuse or neglect, the perpetrator’s name is listed on the Child Abuse Central Registry. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.11. This is a confidential list that is maintained by the Department of Children and Families. Only a limited number of agencies have a statutory right to access the Registry, including licensed daycare providers, adoptive agencies and residential elder care facilities. For all others, a request must be made in writing to the Division to release the information, and failing same, court order must be sought.

School districts employing teachers are not, by statute, entitled to check the Registry. However, nothing in the law prevents an employer (including a school district) from requesting an applicant’s consent to authorize the Division to release this information for purposes of evaluating her employability. Further, nothing in the law protects an applicant from an employer’s choice to draw an adverse inference from an applicant’s failure or refusal to release the information.

So, if a person is listed on the Registry, they remain in jeopardy of having an employer-requested background check that could preclude him from employment. If you receive a letter advising that the Division had substantiated an allegation of abuse or neglect, you should appeal. Instructions will be provided in the letter, advising where to send the request and what information is required.

An administrative appeal occurs in the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The Rules of Evidence do not apply. The procedure is trial-like, but the cases are tried “de novo”. Rather, the a question for the Administrative Law Judge is whether the agency’s decision is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Because of these differences between Superior Court litigation and administrative practice, it is imperative that an accused parent/caregiver select an attorney that is skilled in handling these matters.

If you or someone you know has been substantiated for abuse or neglect and desire to appeal, please contact Paragano & Williams, LLC to schedule a consultation.

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Appealing a DYFS/DCPP Substantiation of Abuse/Neglect

  1. Unfortunately, many clients who wish to appeal have prior substantiations. So in those cases, even a successful appeal will not benefit the client, because the client’s name will remain on the registry to the prior substantiation. However, if a client has not had a substantiation before, than the client will have nothing to lose but everything to gain from the appeal. Anytime we can successfully get a client’s name off the registry, that is a great result!

    I’ve been a trial lawyer in DYFS/DCPP matters for 10 tears, but I’m relatively new to appellate work. In that short time though, I have learned to never assume an appeal will not be successful!

    • Arthur,

      Generally, I agree with you. However, even where there has been a prior substantiation, a parents may still benefit from appealing a present substantiation.

      For instance, if the prior substantiation was for leaving a child unattended in the back of a car, but THIS time, the substantiation is for sexual abuse, the Registry is less of an issue, and the bigger concern is the future impact on parental access. This is particularly so, where DCPP is no longer involved, but the substantiation is available to haunt the parent in custody litigation against the other parent.

      Warm regards,

  2. I think I’m not seeing the entire article on this matter. The article suddenly stops at “An administrative appeal occurs in the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The Rules of Evidence do not apply. The procedure is”

    I’m very much interested in this topic and would like to read what else you have to say on this topic Thanks, Marianne

    • Marianne,

      Thank you for alerting us to the premature posting. We have now posted the balance of the post.

      Thank you for your continued support of the site. We welcome your comments on this and other topics of interest to you on DCPP matters.

      Warm regards,
      Allison C. Williams

  3. What i don’t realize is in fact how you are now not actually much more smartly-preferred than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent. You recognize therefore considerably on the subject of this matter, made me in my opinion believe it from a lot of numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. All the time care for it up!

  4. what happens when the sexual abuse is true? in my case the child disclosed this to a child sexual abuse therapist. I am concerned about this 20 appeal to take the person off the reg. does that mean the abuser goes free? what about the victim? this is about the child who has been sexual abused, i’m tired of hearing about the “poor” abuser, my child will suffer life long problems because of this- please help

    • Dear Lonnie,

      I am sorry for what your child has experienced. In terms of the administrative appeal, it has nothing to do with whether or not the perpetrator goes free. In fact, the division, if he chooses to litigate, is not principally concerned with whether or not the perpetrator goes free. The agency’s goal is child protection.

      They are remedies for someone involved in the child welfare system who believes the agency got it wrong in deciding there was was not abuse. First, the parent may file an action in Superior Court to protect the child, if the agency did not do so. Actions brought in Superior Court must be decided by the judge and the judge cannot abdicate that responsibility to decide the issue to a third-party, including the agency.

      If the agency chooses to file in Superior Court, both parents are listed as defendants because the agency seeks relief as to both parents (i.e., cooperation with protection of their child). In that instance, both parents are able to defend or assert that the child was abused and present evidence to that goal.

      If you would like more information about your options, please contact my office and schedule a consultation at (908) 810–1083.

      Warm regards,

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