The child welfare system works toward the national goals of providing safety, permanency, and well-being for children. These goals are a shared responsibility; child welfare agencies do not serve children and families in isolation, but rather work in partnership with the courts, policymakers, community leaders, Tribes, and other public and private agencies to improve outcomes for children and families in their states. This includes partnering with organizations that directly serve children, youth, and families, and those that affect family and community life.
This collaborative response to child maltreatment also involves many community professionals, including health care providers, mental health professionals, and educators, as well as community-based agency staff, such as substance abuse treatment providers and domestic violence victim advocates. Clergy, extended family members, and concerned citizens likewise all play an important role in supporting families and keeping children safe.
While states and American Indian Tribes have the primary responsibility for providing child welfare services, the federal government plays a major role in supporting states and Tribes in the delivery of services through the funding of programs and through the passage of child welfare legislation. The Children’s Bureau has the main responsibility for enforcing federal child welfare legislative mandates and monitoring child welfare across the nation. It works with state, Tribal, and local agencies to develop programs that focus on preventing the abuse and neglect of children and serving children safely at home or, when necessary, protecting children from abuse and neglect through foster care and finding permanent families for children who cannot safely return to their parents.