Office of Child Welfare

mother and son

Whenever there is family instability, an increased risk of problems for children is almost sure to follow. The loss of income, substance abuse, catastrophic illness, divorce, incarceration, etc., can cause disruptions in the quality of life for most families. The odds for tipping the scales out of balance for fragile and at-risk families are even greater.

Whether disruption leads to poverty, abuse or neglect, research clearly shows the best chance a child has of avoiding these problems is to grow up with their mom and dad in a stable, healthy family. Such children are more likely to have better physical health, stay drug-free, have higher educational aspirations, and remain socially-emotionally healthy.

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, adoption.

The Department’s Child Welfare Program works in partnership with local communities, courts and tribes to ensure the safety, timely permanency and well-being of children. The people who work in the Child Welfare Program conduct, supervise and administer programs for dependent children and their families.

Child Welfare Program services are directed toward these goals:

  • The prevention of separation of children from their families.
  • The protection of children alleged to be dependent or dependent children including provision of emergency and long-term alternate living arrangements.
  • The reunification of families who have had children placed in foster homes or institutions.
  • The permanent placement of 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.

The Department’s Child Care Services Program Office is statutorily responsible for the administration of child care licensing and training throughout Florida. The purpose of this program is to ensure that children are well cared for in a safe, healthy, positive and educational environment by trained, qualified child care staff.

Our Refugee Services Program offers a variety of services to refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of human trafficking to provide the effective resettlement of the new arrivals and assist them in achieving economic self-sufficiency.