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Home > A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System


A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System

A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System We are pleased to share with you A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System, a comprehensive resource that answers many of the questions families face when they become involved with the child welfare system.

Written in a simple, question-and-answer format, and grounded in the experiences of families and child welfare professionals from across the country, A Family's Guide is meant to be a tool to help families learn about
  • experiences other families have had with the child welfare system;

  • child welfare laws and policies that influence the actions and decisions of child welfare workers and courts;

  • people families will meet, the service systems they work in, and their roles with families;

  • ways to advocate for their family's rights (their own and their children's);

  • responsibilities of parents involved with the child welfare system; and

  • practical tips from other parents. A Family's Guide also can be used by the child welfare agencies to build positive relationships with families and increase family participation in service planning, as a tool in family support groups, and to train new workers and foster parents. A Family's Guide provides information that will help other child- and family-serving agencies understand how the child welfare system works. It can be a resource for family support organizations, such as community centers, faith-based organizations, churches, and family advocacy groups. It also can be used to teach social work students about the child welfare system and family experiences. Readers are encouraged to use A Family's Guide creatively and to adapt it to fit the unique characteristics of their own states, communities, and agencies.

    A Family's Guide was developed as a collaborative effort among the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, the American Institutes for Research, the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, the Child Welfare League of America, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

    Additional materials that will be available soon include
    • a curriculum to use as a "guide to the guide," including training exercises and audio tapes of the Guide's Family Voices, and

    • a Spanish version of A Family's Guide, funded by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice.
    If you are downloading/printing out A Family's Guide, please print the evaluation form as well. Your feedback and suggestions about A Family's Guide will assist us in evaluating our work and developing future materials. Please return the completed evaluation to the Georgetown Center for Child and Human Development at the address below, or fax to 202/687-8899 or 202/687-1954, attention Rachele C. Espiritu.

    Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness.

    Additional copies of about A Family's Guide can be purchased for $10 each from

    National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health
    Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
    3307 M Street NW, Suite 401
    Washington DC 20007
    Fax 202/687-1954
    Attention Mary Moreland


    Technical Assistance
    Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health
    American Institutes for Research
    1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Suite 400
    Washington DC 20007
    Fax 202/944-5454
    Attention Anita Marshall

    All PDF files require Adobe Acrobt Reader

     Introducing A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System

     Download the complete A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System (140 pages, 700K)

    Download individual sections of A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System by clicking on any of the links below:
     Cover, Front Matter, Acknowledgements, and Table of Contents (308K)

     Introduction (108K)

     Section 1: What Is the Child Welfare System? (116K)

     Section 2: Learning About Child Protective Services (172K)

     Section 3: The Nuts and Bolts of Service Planning (160K)

     Section 4: Learning About Services for Your Family in Your Own Home (156K)

     Section 5: Learning About Out-of-Home Placement Services (188K)

     Section 6: Placements to Obtain Treatment and Services for Children (156K)

     Section 7: What Are the Possibilities After Out-of-Home Placement (180K)

     Section 8: How Child Welfare Works with American Indian Families (156K)

     Section 9: Summary of Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Parent in the Child Welfare System (144K)

     Section 10: Some Approaches Used by Child Welfare Agencies to Help Families Reach Their Goals (156K)

     Terms You May Want to Know (144K)

     Relevant Federal Laws/Policies (132K)

     Helpful Resources for More Information (156K)

     Tell Us What You Think (Evaluation form)

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