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Office of Child Welfare

Overview

The Florida Department of Children and Families is committed to the well-being of children and their families.  Our responsibilities encompass a wide-range of services, including – among other things – assistance to families working to stay safely together or be reunited, foster care, youth and young adults transitioning from foster care to independence, and adoption.

The statewide Office of Child Welfare and regional Family Safety program offices work in partnership with local communities, courts, and tribes to ensure the safety, timely permanency, and well-being of children.  The people who work in child welfare conduct, supervise and administer programs for dependent children and their families.

Child welfare services are directed toward these goals:

  • The prevention of separation of children from their families.
  • The protection of children alleged to be abuse, neglected, or abandoned including provision of emergency and long-term alternate living arrangements.
  • The reunification of families who have had children placed with relatives or in foster homes or institutions.
  • The establishment of permanent living arrangements for children who cannot be reunited with their families or when reunification would not be in the best interest of the child.
  • The transition to self-sufficiency for older children who continue to be in foster care as adolescents.
  • The preparation of young adults that exit foster care at age 18 to make the transition to self-sufficiency as adults.

Child Protective Investigations

Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare is a mandatory reporter per s, 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes (F.S.).  The Florida Abuse Hotline (1-800-96-ABUSE/1-800-962-2873) accepts reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If the information meets the criteria for an abuse report to be accepted, the report is assigned to the local child protective investigation unit.  Child protective investigations are conducted by the department in most of the state; there are seven sheriff offices that conduct child protective investigations in their counties: Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Seminole, and Walton Counties.

Community-Based Care

Community-Based Care provides foster care and related services to families based upon the identified needs and unique resources within the local community.  This innovative statewide initiative increases accountability, resource development, and system performance.

Additional Resources