Office of Children’s Services
Mission: To investigate all allegations of suspected child abuse, neglect and dependency. Where abuse, neglect, or dependency has occurred or at significant risk of occurring, to provide services to minimize the risk, keep children safe and strengthen families.
The Office of Children’s Services has staff located in all regions of the state, working a variety of shifts and functions to best provide the services needed by the state’s children and families.
- Report Line/Intake
- This unit receives all reports of child abuse,
neglect and dependency, and determines the nature of
the allegations and the appropriate response time
for initiating investigation of the allegations.
- Urgent response (New Castle County)
- This unit is responsible for the investigation
of complaints of abuse, neglect or dependency that
are deemed urgent by the report line/intake unit.
These complaints need response within twenty four
hours and often need immediate response, based on
the nature of the complaint.
- Institutional Abuse
- This unit investigates all allegations of abuse,
neglect or dependency in licensed child car
facilities, Departmental facilities and DFS foster
homes throughout the state.
- These units investigate all reports of child
abuse, neglect and dependency that are deemed
routine by the report line/intake unit. Routine
complaints need response within ten days, depending
on the nature of the complaint.
- After Hours Units
- The report line and urgent response are services
provided twenty four hours a day, seven days a week
including holidays and weekends. These workers also
respond to emergencies on open cases when the
original workers may not be available after hours.
- Once abuse, neglect or dependency is founded, or
significant risk of its occurrence is identified,
cases are transferred to treatment. Workers in these
units are responsible for assessing family needs and
connecting the family with appropriate
resources/services to address those identified
areas. They are also responsible for monitoring the
familys’ success at utilizing the available
services, and communicating with various service
providers to assess the ongoing safety of the
child(ren) and the progress of the family. They
close cases when significant progress has been
achieved to eliminate or minimize the ongoing risk
of abuse to the child(ren).
- Sexual Abuse Unit (in New Castle County only)
- This unit is responsible for the investigation,
support and follow-up services to children who are
victims of intra-familial sexual abuse and severe
physical abuse. This often includes participating
with police in investigations, supporting children
through examinations, preparing children and their
families for testifying in court and supporting them
through the court process. This unit also makes
referrals for other services to assist victims and
their families in dealing with the aftermath of
sexual abuse and severe physical abuse.
- Adolescent Services Unit (in New Castle County only)
- This unit is responsible for providing services
to adolescents and their families, including
investigation of allegations of abuse and neglect of
adolescents. Parent - child conflicts are often a
normal part of dealing with adolescents, and this
unit provides support to both parents and
adolescents, and offers guidance to improve
communication and family functioning.
- Permanency Planning Services
- When the goal of returning children to their
natural families is no longer appropriate, the
social workers write Termination of Parental
Rights(TPR) petitions, which, once approved by
Family Court, allow children to become free for
adoption. They develop long term foster care plans
for those children whose parental rights have been
terminated, but for whom adoption is not an
appropriate goal or for whom the Division holds
custody and return home is not appropriate. This
regularly occurs with adolescents. They are also
responsible for providing assistance throughout the
adoption process to support successful adoptive
- Foster Home Services
- These staff are responsible for matching
children in need of placement with appropriate
foster home resources. They are also responsible for
supporting and advocating for foster parents, for
providing training and certification for new foster
parents and for ongoing monitoring of divisional
- Statewide Reunification Unit
- These social workers are responsible for providing intensive reunification services for children who can potentially return home within six months. Staff work closely with the children, their natural family, and the care provider, i.e. foster parent, group home, etc. to facilitate smooth transitions and successful reunification.