The Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) is a child abuse registry that holds the names of those who have been involved with DCP&P (formerly DYFS). When a claim of abuse is determined to be substantiated after an investigation, the “alleged abuser” will be placed on this registry. This holds true even if there are no criminal charges incurred during the investigation.
All names on the registry are kept confidential by the state and can only be requested by an employer of a prospective employee undergoing background checks if the job consists of working with children, elderly, vulnerable individuals, etc… If the employer discovers the applicant on the CARI list, they can not extend a job offer. It also prevents the individual from being allowed to foster and adopt children as well as take guardianship of family members (LSNJLAW, 2023).
When an individual is notified that they are on a CARI list, they have 20 days to appeal the decision. If they do not appeal or if their appeal is denied, they will remain on the list permanently with little to no hope of being removed.
The CARI list is a wonderful concept as it can save lives and protect vulnerable people from possible abuse. There are many people on this list that I would not want in a classroom with my child or working at their summer camp. However, like everything, even CARI has its flaws.
A local women, who prefers to remain anonymous at this time feels as though she has been unjustly placed on the CARI list in 1999/2000 time frame. As a troubled teen, she became pregnant very young. She was only 16 when giving birth to her first son. She changed much of her lifestyle when she realized she would become a mother and did everything she could to avoid becoming a statistic. She graduated early and held employment, and prepared for the journey ahead. When her son was only a few months old, an allegation of abuse and neglect was made against her. DYFS began an investigation into the allegations. Her social worker at the time was highly again teens becoming parents. She used the words “substantiated allegations” in her report. Her son was temporarily placed with his grandparents. Little did the girl know, this would be the beginning of the end of her goals.
The teen was told that there would be no criminal charges of any kind, but there were requirements to be met if she wanted to obtain full custody of her son. Until the requirements were met, she would not be granted unsupervised visitation. Every time a court appearance was made, the judge would ask if requirements were met, and every time the DYFS worker would add recommendations. After 18 months, multiple court dates, anger management, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, college enrollment, therapy, and multiple recommendations by all programs, the judge had decided enough was enough and granted the teen full custody of her son.
Fast forward to 2018 when the now woman began her dream job working with at-risk children. She always wanted to work with kids and wanted to make a difference. She obtained multiple degrees and experiences and was finally putting them to official use. She was a few months into the job with glowing employee reviews when her employer contacted her to let her know that they were sorry but they had to let her go. They couldn’t tell her why, but the corporation received notice that she had to be terminated. They gave her a number to call in her termination letter.
Imagine her surprise when she realized it was because all those years ago, she was placed on the CARI registry. She explained to their legal services department that she was a minor at the time with no representation or help through the process and had no idea that there was anything to appeal, let alone only 20 days to appeal from date of determination. They said there was nothing she could do and to consider changing her career ideas. She had almost $100K in loans and her dreams crumbled. She contacted an attorney and explained her situation and that she still has every bit of paperwork and proof from way back then and that she can prove the worker was bias. She was advised that the process would be long and expensive and would not likely have the outcome she was hoping for. To this day, she is still trying to simply clear her name.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any knowledge or advice for her? Comment below or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (Please remember to keep all comments kind to avoid deletion.) Follow me for more articles