Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
DCS Policy is available on-line and provides comprehensive information regarding child welfare practice. For questions or more information specific to your case please speak with your Family Case Manager.
The Legal Process Overview is a chart that describes what steps may be taken during a child welfare case. With this chart you can follow a case through the process, beginning with the time a family first has contact with DCS to closure of the case.
Case Planning occurs when families partner with DCS and service providers to identify goals for positive family change. Follow these links to learn more about service planning.
• The Child and Family Team Meeting (CFTM) and the Child and Family Team (CFT)
• The Case Plan
Face-to-Face Contact with your Family Case Manager (FCM)
FCM’s will have monthly face-to-face contact with all children under the care and supervision of the Department of Child Services (DCS), regardless of the type of placement. The FCM will see the foster family or kinship family on a regular basis. When the child, foster family, or kinship family is in crisis the FCM will make frequent visits. Face-to-face contact with the child’s parent/guardian/custodian will be made regularly and according to the minimum service level contact standards. In the event a child is placed out of state, DCS will see the child once every couple of months. DCS will request that the receiving state visit your child in person during the months DCS is not visiting. For questions specific to your case please speak with your Family Case Manager, and for more information read DCS policy for Minimum Contact.
Visitation with a Child in Out-Of-Home-Placement
The Department of Child Services (DCS) will develop a Visitation Plan for every child in placement soon after removal. Exceptions include if no contact has been ordered by the court, child safety is a concern or when parental rights have been terminated. The Visitation Plan may be reviewed or adjusted during a Child and Family Team Meeting (CFTM) or Case Plan Conference. The Family Visitation Plan provides parameters for visitation between the child and his/her parent/guardian/custodian, sibling, family members and other individuals with whom the child has formed a significant relationship. All Visitation Plans must include alternative forms of contact including but not limited to phone calls, cards, letters and photographs to supplement face-to-face visits. Initially most visits are supervised in order for the Family Case Manager (FCM) to assess the parent/guardian/custodian’s strengths and needs regarding parenting and to ensure child safety. Supervision of visits may be provided by a variety of persons, including but not limited to the FCM, foster parent, kinship caregiver, other relative, service provider, facility staff, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or another appropriate adult. Visits may progress to unsupervised arrangements. Involvement in the child’s life can continue by including the parent/guardian/custodian in decisions regarding the child’s health care, education, extra-curricular activities, hair length and style, as well as other decisions of this kind. Special visitation arrangements may be needed for families where domestic violence has been identified. For questions specific to your case please speak with your Family Case Manager, and for more information read DCS policy for Developing the Visitation Plan, Implementing the Visitation Plan and Parental Interaction and Involvement.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 created guidelines for use when Indian children are removed from their families. ICWA states that Indian children will be placed with an Indian family or in a resource or adoptive home that has the values of Indian culture. The tribe has jurisdiction in child custody cases that involve Indian children who live on reservations. DCS will make efforts to find out if a child of American Indian heritage falls under the jurisdiction of the ICWA. DCS will notify the Tribe/Nation if a child claims to be a member, or eligible for membership in the tribe. The parent or child claiming membership in an Indian tribe has the responsibility to show that the ICWA applies to the court proceedings. For more information about DCS policies in response to the ICWA, speak with your Family Case Manager. Below are some additional resources for your review.
• National Tribal Justice Resource Center
• National Indian Child Welfare Association
The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) was passed in 1994 and was improved in 1996 by the Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEP). The MEPA-IEP does not allow the delay or denial of foster placements and adoptions based on the race, color or national origin of the child, foster parent, or kinship caregiver. States are required to recruit foster and adoptive families who are ethnically and racially diverse. DCS will decide if the child’s special needs can be met without making the placement decision based on race or ethnicity. For more information about DCS policies in response to the MEPA, speak with your Family Case Manager. Below are some additional resources for your review.
• Administration for Children and Families
• Child Welfare Information Gateway
• Indiana 2-1-1 Call 2-1-1 for information and referrals to human services including food, shelter, employment, counseling, and much more.
• Nineline Call 1 (800) 999-9999 for support and crisis intervention if you are caring for a teen faced with life changing issues. This line provides answers to tough questions about family, relationships, health, suicide, abuse, drugs and alcohol, sex and running away.
• Indiana Family Helpline Call 1 (800) 433-0746 for more information and referral for maternal and child health, WIC, dental providers, and more. Bilingual communication specialists are on staff.
• Careline/Parent Stress Line, Call 1 (800) 244-5373 if you are having trouble finding the fun in parenting.
• Toll Free Crisis Hotline Numbers
Parenting Resources are available for those who need information, tips, new ideas or support. To obtain additional information about parenting please speak with your Family Case Manager.
• National Center for Fathering
• Parents as Teachers
• Dads and Daughters
• Promoting Responsible Fatherhood
• Parents Anonymous, Support group
• Fathers Online
• Rise Magazine, A magazine by and for parents who have been involved in the child welfare system
• Search Institute, parenting information and resources
• National Fatherhood Initiative
• Indiana Youth Institute
• Indiana Safe Haven Law
• About Special Kids (ASK), Visit their website or call 1 (800) 964-4746 to access information and resources for children with special needs
• Sunny Start
Resources are available in the community for parents to access, such as mental health services, emotional support, financial resources and other social services. Review the following sites based on your particular need. Some sites are search engines allowing for the location of a variety of resources. To obtain additional information regarding resources for your area please speak with your Family Case Manager.
• Child Support Services
• Central Indiana Human Services Database
• National Mental Health Information Center
• Connect For Kids, Issues affecting children, families, and communities
• State of Indiana Family and Health, Resources for families, children, and older adults
• Birth Certificate Requests
• Social Security Card and Benefit Application
• VINELink, Track information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders
• Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA)
• Shalom Community Center, resources for homelessness and poverty
• Prevent Child Abuse America
• The National Domestic Violence Hotline
• Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services, Empowerment and advocacy for the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Is Your Child Thinking About College? Learn more about how to choose and prepare for an education, as well as available scholarships, grants and financial aid
Educational Resources are available to provide information about academic standards and laws, Indiana school performance, special education and advocacy, and much more.
• Indiana Department of Education
• Wrightslaw, Special Education Advocacy
Safety Information: Review the following sites to obtain facts and tips for staying safe as well as information on fire safety, water safety, car safety, emergency and disaster response and preparedness, First Aid/CPR/AED, toy information and recalls. To obtain free or discounted smoke and fire alarms contact your local fire department.
• American Red Cross
• Safe Kids Worldwide
• 911 for Kids
• Harborview Injury Prevention and Resource Center
• ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Center
• US Fire Administration (USFA)
• Home Safety Council
• Fire Escape Planner
Internet Safety: Search for internet safety products, get tips on how to teach your child to stay safe when using technology and learn more about the risks children face, cyberbulling and how to spot online trouble.
• Wired Kids Inc.
• US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
• iKeepSafe.org, Parent resource center
• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NetSmartz workshop
• StaySafeOnline.org National Cyber Security Alliance
• SafeKids.com Internet Safety and Civility, Guidelines for preteens
Social networking and internet usage policy for resource parents and children under the care and supervision of DCS.
• IF THE VICTIM HAS COLLAPSED OR IS NOT BREATHING, CALL 911
• Indiana Poison Center If you have a poison emergency, call 1 (800) 222-1222. If you have questions about poisons or poison prevention, call the toll free number or visit the website.
• National Capital Poison Center, Poison information
Bullying is a growing concern and can impact a child’s physical, social and emotional well-being. Learn now to spot if your child is being bullied or is bullying others. Get tips on how to stop bullying through prevention and intervention.
• Eyes on Bullying
• Olweus Bullying Prevention, Toolkit for parents
• Bully Police USA
• National Crime Prevention Council