DYFS Agreement on Investigation of Child Abuse Allegations
I. Purpose of the Agreement
The purpose of this affiliation agreement is to develop and
formalize a working agreement on the processes by which the
Princeton Regional School District and the Mercer District
Office of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) will
interact in addressing the needs of families and children when
child abuse and neglect is suspected or known. Specifically,
this agreement establishes the relationship and responsibilities
for both parties concerning, but not limited to:
- Developing a liaison relationship.
- Reporting suspected abuse and neglect.
- Facilitating investigation of alleged child abuse, both in
school (institutional) and out of school (noninstitutional).
- Facilitating corrective action recommended as a result of
the child abuse investigation.
The DYFS and the school district central office administration
will each designate one staff person to serve as the liaison
between the two agencies. The roles and functions of the
liaisons are to:
The liaison role does not include continuing communications
between the school staff and DYFS personnel on individual case
situations unless conflicts arise in an investigation which is
governed by the affiliation agreement. Abuse and neglect
referrals are not to be screened or referred through the
- Facilitate communication and cooperation.
- Identify issues or problems that arise in implementation of
this agreement and to facilitate a resolution.
- Act as the primary contact person between the schools and
the DYFS with regard to the agreement, its renegotiation,
and general information sharing.
- Act together in developing mutual training and other
cooperative efforts, such as information exchanges, joint
speaking engagements, etc.
- Serve on the DYFS/School Liaison Committee.
III. Child Abuse - Definition
"'Abused child' means a child under the age of 18 years whose
parents, guardian, or other person having his/her custody and
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical
injury or other than accidental means which causes or
creates a substantial risk of death, or serious or protracted
disfigurement, or protracted impairment of physical
or emotional health or protracted loss or impairment of the
function of any bodily organ.
- Creates or allows to be created a substantial or ongoing
risk of physical injury to such child by other than accidental
means which would be likely to cause death or
serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted loss or
impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
- Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse
against the child.
- A child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has
been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired
as the result of the failure of his/her parent or guardian,
or such other person having his/her custody and control, to
exercise a minimum degree of care in supplying the child
with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical
or surgical care though financially able to do so or though
offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, or in
providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship,
by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted
harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction
of excessive corporal punishment or using excessive
physical restraint under circumstances which do not indicate
that the child's behavior is harmful to himself/
herself, others, or property; or by any other act of a
similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court.
- A child who has been willfully abandoned by his/her parent,
guardian, or such other person having his/her custody and
IV. Child Abuse - Reporting and Referrals
New Jersey law requires that any person having reasonable cause
to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or
acts of child abuse shall report it immediately to the DYFS
In an effort to prevent and intervene in instances of child
abuse and neglect, the schools shall cooperate with the DYFS,
in the early identification, reporting and investigation of
suspected child abuse cases, whether or not corroborative
evidence is available.
Person Making Report Immune
"Anyone acting pursuant to this
act in the making of a report under this act shall have
immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might
otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such person shall have
the same immunity with respect to testimony given in any
judicial proceeding resulting from such report"
Violations, Failure to Make Report
knowingly violating the provisions of this act, including the failure to
report an act of child abuse having reasonable cause to believe
that an act of child abuse has been committed, is a disorderly
person" (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.14). A person convicted of a dis-
orderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.14 is subject to
a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
All School Employees Shall Immediately Report Child Abuse Directly to the DYFS
After reporting the incident to the
DYFS, the person reporting the alleged abuse should notify the
school principal or designee of the report, in accordance with
local procedure. However, consistent with the DYFS regulations,
notice to the principal need not be given where the
referrer believes that such notice would be likely to endanger
the safety of the referrer, or where such disclosure would be
likely to result in discrimination against the referrer with
respect to his/her employment.
The DYFS accepts all reports of suspected abuse and neglect by
telephone, in writing, and in person for all sources, including
identified sources, news media, anonymous sources, sources
which have incomplete information, the child involved and/or
his/her parent. An immediate call to the DYFS sets in motion
the investigative process, which includes steps to be taken to
protect the child or children involved or at risk.
When referring cases to the DYFS, the school referrer should
provide as much pertinent information as possible including:
- Name of child.
- Age and grade of child.
- Name and address of child's parent, guardian, or other
person having custody and control.
- Description of child's condition, including any reports
available from the school social worker, nurse, principal
or designee concerning current or previous injuries, abuse,
- Nature and possible extent of the child's injuries, abuse,
- An indication of the seriousness of the situation and
whether the child appears to be in imminent danger.
- Any other information that the referrer believes may be
helpful with respect to the child abuse and identity of the
- Noninstitutional Child Abuse--abuse and neglect suspected
of taking place in the home or community by a parent,
guardian, or any other person having custody or control of
A report may be made in person or by telephone to the local
- weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 609-895-0400
- weekends, holidays, or after hours at 800-792-8610
Institutional Child Abuse
Abuse and neglect suspected of
taking place in a school or at a school-sponsored event,
allegedly committed by a school staff member or adult
A report may be made in person or by telephone to the
Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU):
- weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 609-292-0617
- weekends, holidays, or after hours at 800-792-8610
V. DYFS Child Abuse Investigations
The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Youth
and Family Services (DYFS) is the state's comprehensive social
service agency for children, families, and adults. The DYFS is
required by state law to investigate every report of a child
who is suspected of being abused, neglected, or abandoned.
The DYFS Mission Statement and Services Principles give overall
direction for social service activities. It is based on local
needs and resources available and cooperative community
planning and services.
The mission is to:
According to agency policy, the DYFS has specific time frames
to respond to a referral, which are as follows:
- Protect vulnerable children and adults from abuse, neglect,
- Support family preservation and community living.
- Prevent family violence and disruption.
- Immediately--in cases of physical or sexual abuse where the
child has been injured or is in imminent risk of harm.
- Within 24 hours--if there is no immediate danger to the
child due to the abuse and neglect, i.e., a report indi-
cates that a child has been abused in the past, evidence of
the abuse is no longer present, and there is no evidence
that abuse is likely to occur within the 24-hour period
following the referral.
- Within 72 hours--in cases of physical neglect which do not
require immediate investigation or emotional abuse and
neglect not precipitating a current crisis requiring
immediate field investigation.
VI. Responsibilities of the School
A. Noninstitutional/Institutional Abuse Investigations
The responsibilities of the school are as follows:
- Permit DYFS to interview the child in the presence of
the school principal or designee. However, if this is
contraindicated by the case situation, such as when the
child is intimidated by a school representative's
presence, the child can name a staff member who he/she
feels will be a supportive presence who will be allowed
to accompany the child during the interview. The
school representative will be informed by the DYFS
worker conducting the interview that the discussion and
investigation are confidential. There may be circumstances,
however, where the school official may have to
be excused from the interview by the DYFS.
- Permit the DYFS to photograph the child for the child's
protection if he or she has visible injuries.
- If a child's family moves while an investigation is
active, the principal or designee shall inform the
- Cooperate with the DYFS in scheduling interviews with
any school personnel who may have information relevant
to the investigation.
- Release to the DYFS under direction of the principal or
designee all records past and present pertaining to the
child or children under investigation that are deemed by
the DYFS to be relevant to the assessment or treatment.
- Provide a secure cabinet for filing and maintaining
confidential information about child abuse cases.
VII. Responsibilities of the DYFS
A. Noninstitutional Abuse Investigation
- Conduct the investigation as soon as possible.
- Notify the parent or guardian of their investigation as
soon as possible and prior to the child's return home
- Maintain confidentiality as to the identity of the
referent, if requested.
- Present the official DYFS staff photo identification to
appropriate school personnel on all visits to the school.
- Contact the referent, in person or by phone, for
further exchange of information about the reported
suspected child abuse and neglect. Within five working
days of the referral, the DYFS caseworker will call the
- Report to the county prosecutor those cases of alleged
abuse and neglect that involve suspected criminal
activity on the part of the child's parent, guardian,
or any other person.
- Interview the child in the presence of the school
principal or designee. However, if this is contra-indicated by the case situation, such as when the child
is intimidated by a school representative's presence,
the child can name a staff member who he/she feels will
be a supportive presence who will be allowed to accompany the child during the interview. The school
representative will be informed by the DYFS worker
conducting the interview that the discussion and
investigation are confidential. There may be circumstances, however, where the school official may have to
be excused from the interview by the DYFS.
- Interview any school employee who may have information
relevant to the investigation.
- Receive any records or materials from the principal or
designee that would assist in the assessment or treatment of the abused child.
- Report by letter to the referent using the DYFS
Form26-64 as to whether or not the referred family
will be receiving ongoing services. This response will
be sent within 30 working days or as soon as possible
thereafter. If appropriate, additional information
essential to the health and safety as well as the
education of the referred student will be forwarded or
discussed with the appropriate school personnel.
- Provide the school principal or designee with any
information related to a child's change in residence or
specific medical concerns.
B. Institutional Abuse Investigation
"'Institution' means a public or private facility in
the state which provides children with out-of-home
care, supervision or maintenance. Institution
includes, but is not limited to, a correction facility,
detention facility, treatment facility, day-care
center, residential school, shelter, and hospital"
"'Day school' means a public or private school which
provides general or special educational services to day
students in grades kindergarten through twelve. Day
school does not include a residential facility, whether
public or private, which provides care on a 24-hour
basis" (N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21h).
"Reasonable cause to believe" as it relates to an
institutional setting is defined as follows:
- If a child directly makes an allegation involving
himself/herself and a staff person.
- If a child or staff person makes an allegation
regarding an event he/she has witnessed involving
another child and a staff person.
- If a child or staff person has witnessed physical
or sexual activity occurring between students.
2. Investigation Unit
The Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU) in
the DYFS was created to investigate all allegations of
child abuse and neglect in institutional settings
including day schools. The Intake/Administrative Unit
is located in Trenton. The investigators are located
in four regional offices throughout the state:
- Hammontown--Southern Region (Atlantic, Burlington,
Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Camden, Salem)
- Princeton--Central Region (Hunterdon, Mercer,
Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset)
- Newark--Central Region (Essex and Union)
- Paterson--Northern Region (Bergen, Hudson, Morris,
Passaic, Sussex, Warren)
3. The Process of the DYFS Investigation
A referral for suspected abuse and neglect is made
to the IAIU Intake/Screening Unit in Trenton.
Appropriate cases are immediately referred to the
proper regional office for investigation. IAIU
notifies the school principal by telephone and the
local superintendent through a written memorandum
that it is initiating an investigation of alleged
abuse. The regional supervisor assigns the case to
an investigator who contacts the principal or
designee at the facility. Should the nature of the
referral satisfy the existing criteria, the case
will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement
entity. When law enforcement officials are contacted,
every effort will be made to conduct a
joint, confidential investigation for the convenience
of the facility staff and the families
When visiting the school, the IAIU investigator
will present the official staff photo identification to
appropriate school personnel. The investigator will
speak to the child in question, any
witnesses to the alleged incident, other staff
members, and any collateral persons necessary to
complete the investigation.
(1) The Child(ren)
The DYFS worker will interview the child in
the presence of the school principal or
designee. If this is contraindicated by the
case situation, such as when the child is
intimidated by a school representative's
presence, the child can name a staff member
who he/she feels will be a supportive presence
who will be allowed to accompany the child
during the interview. The school representative
will be informed by the DYFS worker
conducting the interview that the discussion
and investigation are confidential. There
may be circumstances, however, where the
school official may have to be excused from
the interview by the DYFS.
(2) The Subject of the Investigation
The DYFS worker will interview the subject.
Should the staff person wish to have legal
representation during the interview, this
request must be honored. Should the staff
person wish to have a representative of their
professional association present during the
interview, the association representative may
be present as a witness to the testimony but
may not participate in the interview or advise
the staff person as to how to answer the questions.
This type of advice can only be given
by an attorney.
An exit interview will be held with the
principal or designee after all the interviews
have been completed for the day. During the
exit interview, the principal or designee will
be advised of any remedial action which is
being recommended. He/she will also be given
information regarding the course of the
investigation and the possibility of their
participation. Obviously, information which
may compromise the investigation, particularly
criminal investigations, cannot be
shared at this time.
(4) Other Persons
The DYFS worker may want to interview witnesses to the alleged incident, as well as
other staff members.
c. Notification to Parents
The DYFS is responsible for notifying the parent or
guardian that they are initiating an investigation
of a report of suspected institutional abuse. In
the event that attempts to reach the parent are
unsuccessful, the investigation will proceed.
d. Immediate Intervention
In order to insure the safety of the child(ren)
during the investigation process, the IAIU may
request the removal of the alleged perpetrator(s)
from direct contact with all children. Any request
for removals or other immediate action will be
confirmed in writing to the principal by the IAIU
e. Access to School Documents
The investigator is permitted to see and/or have
copies of incident reports, medical reports, or
other school documents pertinent to the investigation
through the authorization of the chief school
administrator or designee.
f. Final Report and Recommendations
The IAIU will have the investigation completed
within 45 days of the receipt of the initial
referral. If the investigation continues beyond
the 45-day limit or the report is unable to be
prepared on time, an interim status letter will be
sent to the local district superintendent advising
him/her of any immediate concerns regarding the
investigation and/or clearly stating when a final
report can be expected. If a finding is known at
this time, it will be relayed. Once the investigation
is completed, a final report will be issued
to the local district superintendent and the county
superintendent. If recommendations are included in
the final report, they will be of two types:
The IAIU will inform the county superintendent, as
necessary, when a local district has not responded
to the recommendations on institutional child
abuse. The county superintendent will then follow
up with the local district superintendent. It is
the responsibility of the IAIU to monitor the
corrective action plans submitted by the local
- A recommendation which directly relates to
specific incidents of harm to the child(ren) in
- A recommendation which is not related to an
incident of harm but is relevant to the future
safety of the child(ren), such as a stressful
environment, or methods of discipline.
VIII. Removal of the Children fron the School by the DYFS
A. Removal Procedures
In some cases, it may be necessary for the DYFS to remove
children from school during the course of a school day in
order to protect the child or take the child to a service
provider. At such time, the DYFS district office shall
provide to the appropriate school authority, either in
advance or at the time removal is sought, one of the
- A letter from the DYFS indicating agency authority.
- Parental consent either from the parent's direct communication to
the school or through the presentation of
written authorization to the DYFS from the parent.
- A document invoking statutory authorization under
N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.29, which is a precourt document
(DYFS21-6) authorizing the DYFS to act to protect the
- A court order establishing that the DYFS has been
granted care and custody of the child.
- A guardianship order from the court establishing that
the DYFS is the legal guardian of the child.
B. Release of Student From School
The school shall, at no time, release a child to any person
claiming to be a representative of the DYFS unless one of
the above conditions is met and the official DYFS staff
photo identification has been shown. If there is any
question regarding the worker's identity or credentials,
the principal or designee should call the DYFS district
office that the worker represents. The DYFS representative shall
sign a statement indicating the date, time,
reason, and name of representative.
IX. Transfers of Children between Schools
The DYFS may remove some children from their homes for their
proper care and protection. This may require the transfer of
the child to a school other than the one in which he/she is
A. Responsibility of the School
The sending school will transfer the records of the child
to the receiving school within 10 days after the transfer
has been verified by the requesting school district.
If the parent(s) moves from one community to another New
Jersey community while an investigation is under way, the
principal of the sending school shall inform the principal
of the receiving school of the investigation.
B. Responsibilities of the DYFS
- The DYFS staff will arrange for student transfer with
both the sending and receiving school prior to
- When a foster child is placed in another school
district, the DYFS social worker will share appropriate
information relating to the child's educational records
with school officials in order that the most appro-
priate educational plan be developed for the child.
Additionally, when a foster child is moved from one
home to another within the same district, the school
will be notified promptly.
- The DYFS staff will pick up the transfer card from the
sending school and deliver it to the receiving school.
This may be carried out by the DYFS social worker, the
foster parent, or another DYFS-approved worker.
However, if this task is to be executed by someone
other than the DYFS social worker, the DYFS will notify
the sending school of the arrangement.
- When there are legal restrictions on a parent's contact
or visitation privileges, which are known to the DYFS,
that agency will provide the principal or designee of
the receiving school with documentation regarding the
The DYFS will notify the school principal or designee
of changes in status of court orders in which the DYFS
is a party.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a, the DYFS may release
information to "An agency authorized to care for, treat, or
supervise a child who is the subject of a child abuse
report, or a parent, guardian, or other person who is
responsible for the child's welfare, or both, when the
information is needed in connection with the provision of
care, treatment or supervision to such child or such
parent, guardian, or other person." As a recipient of the
DYFS records and reports, school personnel shall keep them
confidential. "Any person who willfully permits or
encourages that release of the contents of any record or
report in contravention of this act shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $1,000
or to imprisonment for not more than 3 years, or both"
XI. Joint Initiatives Between the School District and the DYFS
A. Joint Interviewing
In some instances, it may be appropriate for both the DYFS
and school personnel to interview the parent, guardian, or
family members jointly at the school.
B. Service Plan Development and Service Initiatives
Upon the request of either party, and the mutual agreement
of both, the parties will participate in the development
and initiation of a service plan for children. Such a plan
shall clarify the role and responsibilities of each of the
C. Consultation and Information Sharing
The DYFS and the school share information concerning
specific children in planning joint services. The DYFS
staff will enlist the assistance of school personnel in
monitoring children's well-being and progress.
D. In-Service Training
The DYFS and the schools provide in-service training for
each other. Subjects covered may include, but are not
- Identification of child abuse and neglect.
- Review of this affiliation agreement on a regular basis
to ensure that new school and the DYFS employees are
aware of the contents.
- Referral process and follow-up.
- Support services for children and their families.
- Agreements on planning and scheduling developed by the
liaison persons representing the DYFS and the schools
in a partnership effort.
XII. The Agreement
The Agreement--Representatives from the Princeton Regional
School District and the Mercer District Office of the DYFS will
meet and review the initial agreement. The term of the agreement
is one year. In addition, within two weeks prior to the
beginning of the twelfth month from the effective date, the
agreement will be reviewed. The parties will then agree to
continue this agreement for another year or to terminate the
agreement. Modifications required by a change in state or
federal law governing the substance and procedures agreed upon
herein shall be made on the effective date of such revisions.
Either DYFS or the school system may reopen discussion toward
the modification of any part of the agreement at any time.
The parties to this agreement recognize the value of
cooperation in identifying, reporting, and investigating
suspected child abuse or neglect and believe cooperation will
more effectively protect children and strengthen families.
As an expression of commitment to children and families, the
parties do hereby affirm to abide by the standards set forth in
On this ____ day of _______________ , 19___.
Superintendent District Office Manager, Division
Princeton Regional Schools of Youth and Family Services
President, Board of Education Regional Supervisor, Institutional
Princeton Regional Schools Abuse Investigation Unit