Changes in DYFS/CPS Investigations in NJ

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My name is Jack Nicholais and I am a retired Police Captain from NJ and former Police Chief from Pa. I also worked for the Superior Court in Morristown, NJ as a Constable/Court Officer and currently do forensic hypnosis for individuals that have been victims or witnesses of crimes.  

In my many years of police service I developed and presented child safety programs to over 350,000 children nationwide in hundreds of schools and made many PSA TV programs on topics such as drugs, alcohol, strangers, child abuse and more while also being the director of a non profit organization on drugs and alcohol.

These TV shows were seen nationwide on cable, not too mention I appeared on a number of children's TV shows for major NY networks and presented these shows at county fairs. "Our" shows have been written up by over 3 dozen newspapers nationwide, including the NY Daily news twice, as we used our programs for elected officials from NY to Washington State in promoting their messages as well using my ventriloquist "dummies" to keep the attention and pass the messages on to the children.  

Both my "dummy" Archie and I appeared in police uniforms and many children reported to us or the officers that accompanied us cases of drug use by their parents, child molestation and child abuse. For doing these programs for children, in NJ, NY and Pa. "we" were awarded a special law enforcement award at the NJ State Fair by NJ Governor Tom Kean in educating over 350,000 of these children.

Today, I am trying to change the way an agency here in NJ as well as nationwide handles investigations regarding children and the many parents that are being wrongly accused of abuse or neglect.

All too often DYFS/CPS  investigations are based on anonymous tips that can come from ex-spouses, irate employees, disgruntled neighbors  and more. These investigators show up on your front door and demand to speak to you about allegations that may in turn be false, if you "hesitate" in your answer or refuse you are "threatened" with court action and the possibility of having your children removed.  

There are constitutional amendments that state your rights, rights that you may not know of but rights that are not explained to you by them.  When police question individuals regarding a suspected crime they are given Miranda rights but parents are not given any rights here and feel that if they don't let the worker in and answer their questions things could be worse. The one word the investigators don't want to hear is "attorney" and sometimes when you mention that they ask what you have to hide but in reality you are trying to protect yourself because anything you say will be used against you, everything you say, even if you state you want it confidential, will be written down and can hurt you in the long run.

Most of the time your words are twisted by them when they write their reports and even if they do not follow through with something they want you to do they say  that you, the "suspected violator" are the one that is non-compliant even though it is them that made the mistake.

DYFS caseworkers are not police investigators and rarely know how to conduct a investigation properly, not too mention that when they do something illegal, reports can be changed and nobody would know it.  Even though they somewhat answer to the Attorney General's office in some respect, their mistakes and possible falsifying information can lead to a devastating effect on the children at the cost of thousands of dollars to families that may not have the money to fight them in the first place.  

NJ needs to investigate how this organization operates, form a commission into their practices and hear the horror stories from the parents and grandparents that suffer at their expense.

DYFS does good work helping children that have been abused or neglected but more times then none they do investigations that can be closed rather quickly but drag them along to justify the high salaries and case numbers. Having too many investigations open does put stress on the agency but most of these investigations can again be closed within 45-60 days.

Police departments in New Jersey have a division called Internal affairs that investigate allegations made against an officer for violating their job description. CPS, needs to have updated versions of their Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines and stick to their jobs as case workers and not police investigators going outside their job descriptions because in doing so they can jeopardize sensitive police investigations, especially when it involves sexual assaults.

CPS in NJ is again somewhat under the supervision of the State Attorney General's office but an outside agency should be one to handle complaints against case workers who cross the line and abuse the power they are handed just as police are.to avoid false reports within the CPS organization.

This agency should every year do background investigations on their case workers due to the fact that they may have criminal records since some case workers live out of state and may not disclose their records or may have civil judgments that would their affect jobs and the people they are hired to help.

CPS workers are afforded Immunity if they do their job correctly, when they don't, they are not immune to civil or criminal proceedings. All too often CPS workers feel this immunity grants them freedom to do what they want especially "outside the box" but this is not the case and the caseworker's supervisor's are just as guilty in looking the other way when their workers cross over the line including falsifying and changing their investigation notes and official records when they do something inappropriate and the case worker could then have their immunity they so enjoy voided.

There needs to be a change in how CPS operates and needs to be monitored more to avoid putting more harm on children who are taken from their parents, protect the rights of children and parents and see that they operate within the law and constitution.

DYFS needs to be privatized  which will in effect cut back costs in the long run and keep their workers honest from falsifying reports and cut investigation times in incidents that would normally require 30-60 days to complete. The state(s) also needs to have immunity removed from the division. With the removal of immunity from criminal and civil prosecution investigations, case workers will think twice in what they do to protect their public pensions, which should also be privatized to cut costs. There are many benefits to privatizing this organization and all should be explored.

 

Here is a link to a petition to congress on this issue: 

https://www.change.org/p/congress-make-family-court-cps-obey-law



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