Department of Children and Families

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The Department of Children and Families (also known as the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Child Services, Child Protective Services or Department of Social Services) is the name generally given to various state government agencies responsible for the main purpose of investigating and resolving incidents of child abuse, domestic violence as well as reports of abuse inflicted against both disabled individuals (both mentally and physically handicapped) as well as the elderly. The agencies are also tasked with enforcing child labor laws in their respective states as well as supervising the treatment of minors in the welfare system, school system and the workplace. In certain states, the agency provides suicide prevention support as well.

The agency was created as a result of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, a federal law which ordered the creation of individual state agencies to enforce state statutes concerning child and disability abuse crimes.

DCF State agencies are supervised in the federal government by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Criticism

DCF agencies have been accused of several cases of corruption in the past in regards to the agency terminating parental rights for families of healthy children regardless of a lack of actual proof of child abuse occurring in households, with minors in DCF custody subsequently dying within assisted living facilities or suffering physical harm due to the poor condition of DCF housing facilities.

Conservatives have sometimes accused the agency of carrying out biased actions in the performance of their duties, with DCF having likely pressed criminal charges of child abuse against conservative Christian family homes in the past for often nonrealistic purposes.

One of the most bizarre cases of a child being removed from their home by DCF social workers and police officers in the past, for instance, included the Massachusetts agency claiming a girl's parents violated state abuse laws by homeschooling their daughter rather than enrolling her in a public school.

In early 2014, another similarly bizarre case saw the California DCFS and police officers remove a newly born infant from the home of a young couple after the child's parents asked doctors for a second opinion in order to avoid a life-threatening surgical procedure on their son. The charges were eventually dropped and their son was returned to the couple after it was ruled that the beliefs of the two did not amount to abuse of their child.

See also

Social Services