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.
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.
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 placements.
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 foster homes.
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.