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Child Welfare Policies - Under Construction

The DCS Policy Team is in the process of converting each child welfare policy to a new template, to better align with the DCS mission, vision, and Practice Model. During this conversion process, the format of the policies may differ as policies are developed or revised.

The information provided in this manual is intended for the use and convenience of staff and interested persons. References contained in DCS policies that pertain to other State policies, Indiana Administrative Code, Indiana Code, and/or Federal Law should not be considered a substitute for the actual documents or legal counsel.

Questions or comments on individual policies should be directed to your local supervisor, work unit manager, or DCS.Policy@dcs.in.gov. Please contact our webmaster if you have any problems using the site.

Policy Changes Implemented Via Admin Letters

Indiana Child Welfare Policy Manual  

Click here for the complete policy manual, last updated on Nov. 9, 2020: Indiana Child Welfare Policy Manual.

For more recent updates, see the individual policies at the links below, or contact DCS.Policy@dcs.in.gov.



The direct delivery of child welfare services by DCS local offices under the administration or supervision of the Central Office of DCS is based upon federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. The foundation for public welfare is found in the 1935 federal Social Security Act, as amended.


The Indiana Juvenile Code became effective October 1, 1979. In its "General Policy and Provision," Indiana Code 31-10-2-1 affirms that it is the policy of this state "to ensure that children within the juvenile justice system are treated as persons in need of care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation." Further, the Code states that it is Indiana's policy to "strengthen family life by assisting parents to fulfill their parental obligations;" and "to remove children from their families only when it is in the child's best interest or in the best interest of public safety."


Per Indiana Code 31-10-2-2, "for purposes of IC 31-33; IC 31-34; and IC 31-35; all decisions made by (DCS) or the court shall be made in consideration of the best interests of the child or children concerned."


The federal Social Security Act, Title IV, Part B, Subpart 2, Section 430 (42 USC 629) offers these objectives:

(1) To prevent child maltreatment among families at risk through the provision of supportive family services.

(2) To assure children's safety within the home and preserve intact families in which children have been maltreated, when the family's problems can be addressed effectively.

(3) To address the problems of families whose children have been placed in foster care so that reunification may occur in a safe and stable manner in accordance with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

(4) To support adoptive families by providing support services as necessary so that they can make a lifetime commitment to their children.


Information regarding other federal and state laws that influence public child welfare services may be found in the related sections of the DCS Child Welfare Policy Manual.

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