In 1983, the Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect was created by Executive Order to bring a coordinated statewide effort to solving the problem of child abuse and neglect. The Task Force was charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to improve the State's response to child maltreatment and to educate communities and professionals about the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
In 1996, the legislature established by statute the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to continue the work of the Governor's Task Force and expanded its mandate. The Task Force was authorized to study and develop recommendations regarding the most effective means of improving the quality and scope of child protective services provided or supported by State government including the practices and policies of the Division of Youth and Family Services.
Under the law establishing the Department of Children and Families, the 24 member Task Force’s membership consists of cabinet level officers including the Commissioners of the Departments of Children and Families, Human Services, Education, Community Affairs, Corrections, Health and Senior Services, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Public Defender and the Superintendent of State Police, or their designees, a county prosecutor, two members of the Senate and the General Assembly, representing both political parties; and 13 public members appointed by the Governor.
In 2007, the statute of the NJTFCAN was again revised to include the following expanded purpose:
The purpose of the task force is to study and develop recommendations regarding the most effective means of improving the quality and scope of child protective and preventative services provided or supported by State government, including a review of the practices and policies utilized by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and Division of Family and Community Partnerships in the Department of Children and Families in order to:
- Optimize coordination of child abuse-related services and investigations;
- Promote the safety of children at risk of abuse or neglect;
- Ensure a timely determination with regard to reports of alleged child abuse;
- Educate the public about the problems of, and coordinate activities relating to, child abuse and neglect;
- Develop a Statewide plan to prevent child abuse and neglect and mechanisms to facilitate child abuse and neglect prevention strategies in coordination with the Division of Family and Community Partnerships;
- Mobilize citizens and community agencies in a proactive effort to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect; and
- Foster cooperative working relationships between State and local agencies responsible for providing services to victims of child abuse and neglect and their families.