What Is the Department of Children and Family Services?


Quick Answer

The Department of Children and Family Services is a child welfare organization administered by state and regional governments. Some jurisdictions use this title for the agency, while others call it Child Protective Services or some similar variant of one of the two terms.

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Full Answer

The exact mission statement varies by agency, but in general, child services agencies are tasked with intervening when a child has experienced or is at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment. These organizations employ social workers who investigate such cases.

These organizations also often run and administer various family services and programs. These include adoption programs, foster care, family group meetings, reunification services and appointing of legal guardianship. They often offer treatment and outpatient services, mental health services for children, shelters for homeless families, and food programs for children in need. For instance, the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services provides children's mental health services, which are individualized to each minor and his family.

Child Protective Services are social services agencies, and they generally do not have law enforcement powers. However, they can work to remove children from a home where they believe abuse is occurring. A CPS investigation is not a criminal investigation, but it can be used in juvenile court to order that the state take custody of children. Once such an order has been granted by a judge, police can remove a minor from the custody of the offending parents or guardians.

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