Implementing Child Welfare League of America Recommendations
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has provided a roadmap to help DCF strengthen the safety net to keep children safe and families strong. DCF has developed a 60-day action plan to implement the recommendations that can be accomplished in the short term. The longer-term solutions will require active engagement and inclusion of front line social workers and partnership with union leadership and the Legislature. DCF will provide updates on its progress implementing these initiatives in a clear and transparent manner.
View the DCF 60 Day Action Plan
Read the CWLA Report.
Investing in DCF
The Department of Children and Families is charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect and strengthening families. In January 2014, Governor Deval Patrick announced a comprehensive Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget investment in DCF to enhance the agency’s work to protect the over 100,000 youth served each year, while strengthening families across the Commonwealth. The investment will allow the Department to move towards its 15 to 1 caseload goals, and enhance its screening, investigation, and case review practices.
Maintaining Strong Contact with Clients
Maintaining consistent contact with clients is an essential part of ensuring our children are safe and well-cared for and that our families are succeeding. DCF’s in-person contact chart shows the percent of DCF children and young adults visited by a DCF social worker during a given month. In addition to the Governor’s FY15 budget funding, the Department is in the process of deploying mobile technology for workers to enhance their ability to communicate and record information on families. This will help improve reporting by eliminating existing lag time in processing reports.
Expanding Kinship Placements
The Department’s mission is to ensure that children are able to grow and thrive in a nurturing home environment. This sometime requires the difficult decision of removing a child from their home to a more stable environment. When a child is removed from their home and taken into DCF custody, they are considered to be in placement. The first placement DCF considers is with a child’s extended family/kin. Kinship care is the full time nurturing and protection of children in a licensed family setting by relatives or those adults to whom a child and the child's parents and family members ascribe a "family" relationship. Other placements include: DCF foster homes; intensive foster care via a provider; and congregate care, including group homes or residential placements.
DCF has made great progress expanding kinship care placements, which has proven to provide better outcomes for children who come into foster care. More than 50% of children in DCF foster care are now placed with kin, and 27.4% of children in all placements are with kin. Approximately 75% of children who entered DCF care in 2013, were reunified with their family within a year.
Providing National Leadership on Adoptions
If a child must be removed from their home in order to ensure their safety and well-being, they are placed into the custody of DCF. A court must approve and maintain the Department’s custody of a child. The Department first works to reunify the child with their family, when appropriate. When reunification is not an option, achieving permanency through adoption can be a child's best hope for ensuring a caring, stable family that will support and nurture their growth and development into adulthood. Adoption is a legal process that takes place through the court system.
DCF completed 814 adoptions in 2013 with 38% of children adopted within 24 months of their entry into care. This exceeds the national standard of 36%.
Hiring More Social Workers
In order to ensure children are safe and families are succeeding, we are hiring more social workers to make caseloads more manageable and provide the support and services children and their families need. DCF employs more than 3,000 workers with over 80% providing direct services in the field. The Governor’s FY15 budget will allow DCF to hire 177 more social workers, supervisors, managers, and support staff to keep caseloads manageable. More information on hiring will be added to this page in the near future.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the Massachusetts state agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children from child abuse and neglect. To report abuse or neglect, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline anytime of the day or night at 1-800-792-5200.
The Department of Children and Families offers a unique opportunity for community members to donate and/or volunteer; making a difference in a foster child's life.