Clients often contact me regarding outcomes of the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) investigations. Every child abuse investigation initiated by DCPP has an outcome or a finding. There are four possible outcomes or findings of DCPP investigations.
Two are child abuse findings. This means the division did confirm that there was an act or omission that constitutes child abuse or neglect. Those two findings are substantiated or established. There are two non-child abuse findings which are not established and unfounded. These findings have been changed in recent years and they remain largely unlitigated by the courts. It’s likely that these issues will be addressed further by the appellate courts in the state.
A substantiated finding, which is a child abuse finding, means that the person who substantiated will be included in the DYFS Central Registry. This can impact a person’s employment prospects, especially if they’re a teacher or a pre-school teacher. It can also impact their ability to serve as a foster parent or adopted parent at any point in the future. Inclusion in the registry lasts forever. Once a person is there they don’t get out.
The other finding is an established finding. Also a child abuse finding, this is not entitled to any administrative due process. That finding remains in the division’s files forever but it doesn’t necessarily become included or make a person part of the Central Registry. The other findings are not established which means that the division did conclude that there was some risk of harm to the child but it did not rise to the level of child abuse or neglect.
The last finding is unfounded. This means that there was no indication that there actually was any child abuse, neglect, or risk. The outcome is, obviously, best for the parent if it’s an unfounded determination by the division.