Common CPS Complaints in New Jersey

Child protective services may have a fundamental goal to aid and assist families suspected of abuse or neglect, yet certain workers of CPS make errors during their investigation.

These mistakes can be as small as improper recording of interviews, or even larger mishaps such as breaches of civil liberty that can result in litigation. Below is a short list of just some of the most common mistakes.

Mishandling Of Evidence and Logging
In all investigations, caseworkers are expected to log each evidence related to their particular case. This evidence can include, but is not limited to, observations on the quality of the child’s residence, observations on interaction between family members, manuscripts of conducted interviews, observations on marks on the body of the child, and so on. There are numerous ways to mishandle evidence. For instance, the caseworker may be completely negligent of a key testimony, and not even record it at all, or when they do record evidence, doing so illegibly. Believe it or not, caseworkers have actually been terminated for having a poor handwriting.

Case workers have been notoriously known to harbor certain biases whether done so unintentionally or not. These biases can unfairly impact the results of the case as a social worker will be more inclined to believe a certain individual regardless of whether they have actual evidence to support these beliefs or not. Any and all biases involved in a CPS case can be litigated against for more proper treatment and even can produce financial compensation if the bias results in a damage to the overall family. It is key to be aware that predispositions can come in many forms. For instance, biases can racially motivated, gender, religion, orientation, and more. Biases can even be a result of a personal experience that influenced the caseworker’s identity. Always be sure that your case is being handled efficiently and fairly.

Missing Context
No matter how much a family may love one another, everyone eventually has rough patches, however, this does not always mean they love each other any less, and certainly doesn’t always equate to abuse. This is why context is so crucial to any child services case. What was the family like prior to the reported incident? Was there any trigger that influenced their actions? What’s their reputation among their peers and others who know them personally? Observations outside of the case worker’s own notes are critical to truly understanding the unique nuances within a family, and the family’s own input is vital too, of course.

Not Being Thorough
A caseworker should not make any assumptions, should adhere to a strict set of guidelines and protocol, should openly share their plans with the family, and should record everything as detailed and thorough as they possibly can. For example, quotes should not be paraphrased, but recorded precisely as they were said to improve clarity and avoid confusion. The more specific and open a caseworker is, the less probability of mistakes there are.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allison Williams, Esq.
Allison Williams, founder of The Williams Law Group is a leading attorney in the area of DYFS defense and DCPP defense. Ms. Williams is a thought leader who specializes in child advocacy, child abuse and child neglect cases and has brought many changes and updates to the child welfare branch of law.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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