Assemblywoman MARLENE CARIDE
District 36 (Bergen and Passaic)
Requires notification to Division of Child Protection and Permanency upon arrest of child’s primary caregiver.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning certain caregivers and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. As used in this section:
“Arresting authority” refers to all law enforcement agencies in the State, including but not limited to the Division of State Police and any municipal police department.
“Division” means the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families.
b. In the event that a person is arrested or taken into custody, the arresting authority shall inquire whether the person is a parent, legal guardian or caregiver of a child. If the arresting authority receives an affirmative response from the person, the arresting authority shall:
(1) ascertain the location of the child and the identity of any person to whom the parent, legal guardian or caregiver has entrusted with the care of the child; and
(2) as soon as practicable, notify the division of the location of the child and the identity of the person entrusted with the care of the child.
c. Upon receiving notification from an arresting authority pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of this section, the division shall promptly confirm the location of the child, contact the person to whom care of the child has been entrusted by the arrested parent, legal guardian or caregiver, and confirm that the child is with that person.
d. If the division finds that the child is in the care of a custodial parent or legal guardian who is not under arrest or in custody, the division shall, within 24 hours of receiving notification from an arresting authority:
(1) commence an investigation into the appropriateness of the child’s placement with the person entrusted by the parent, legal guardian or caregiver under arrest or in custody to care for the child;
(2) (a) commence a search to locate any non-respondent parent of the child or other relatives of the child, including but not limited to all of the child’s grandparents, and all relatives identified by a child over the age of five as a relative who plays or has played a significant positive role in the child’s life, and to inform them of the opportunity to seek temporary custody or care of the child; and
(b) determine whether the child may appropriately be placed with a suitable person related to the child and whether that relative is willing and able to provide appropriate care for the child; and
(3) determine the location of any siblings, half siblings, step-siblings, foster-siblings, or non-blood related siblings of the child who are under the age of 18.
e. Within 24 hours of notification by the arresting authority, the division shall determine the appropriateness of the child’s placement by the parent, legal guardian or caregiver that was arrested or taken into custody. In the event that the placement is found by the division to be contrary to the child’s health, safety or welfare, or otherwise not in the best interests of the child, the division shall immediately arrange for the provision of care for the child.
f. The division shall monitor the welfare of any child subject to the provisions of this section until the division receives notification that the parent, legal guardian or caregiver is no longer under arrest or in custody and requests the immediate return of the child. Upon receipt of such notification, the division shall return the child to the parent, legal guardian or caregiver as soon as practicable but no later than 10 days after receiving notification, unless a contrary court order has been issued.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
The bill requires law enforcement agencies to ascertain if a person placed under arrest is a parent, legal guardian, or caregiver of a child. If the person is a caregiver, the law enforcement agency is to notify the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“division”), in the Department of Children and Families, of the child’s location and the identity of the person entrusted with his or her care. If the child is not in the care of a parent or legal guardian who is not under arrest or in custody, the division would arrange for care of the child.
This bill is similar to legislation introduced in New York following the death of four year old Myls Dobson, who was left in an abusive situation after his father was arrested on an unrelated charge.