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Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families


Division of Family Services

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

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.

Investigation

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.

Treatment

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 family’s 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

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.

Family Assessment and Intake Response (FAIR) Unit

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. These units work with youth for whom an adoptive resource has not yet been identified.  These units work with youth, often adolescents, to prepare them for independence. 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.

Independent Living Program

The Department’s Division of Family Services provides independent living services to assist youth, ages 14 and older, who are in foster care, and youth who have exited care after their 18th birthday but have not reached age 21. Services are designed to promote self-sufficiency and responsible living for young adults. Participants receive training in life skills and personal development, mentoring, tuition assistance, and support with transitional living.