When it comes to the needs and safety of minors, Utah has a variety of organizations, people, and procedures in place to protect them. The particular structure and methods involved in child welfare systems vary from state to state, although the same basic concepts apply nationwide. DCFS Utah is a state-wide organization designed to promote the health and safety of children across Utah.
The entire system of services for Utah children is too large and complex to go into great detail here. However, a good place to start is by knowing the who, the what, and the how of the major participants.
The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) receives and investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. This state agency is specifically charged by the legislature to determine whether a child is in a safe environment; if not, it has the authority to remove the child and put he or she into an appropriate temporary placement.
The Juvenile Court system is made up of Judges, private attorneys, government attorneys, and the Office of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL). A GAL attorney is appointed by the Juvenile Court to represent the child or children in a court proceeding, and must speak for the child’s best interests.
Government contractors and private companies offer a variety of useful services, including supervision of parent-time, after school care, gang prevention programs, tutoring, parental training, crisis nurseries, and more.
Healthcare providers and school personnel of all stripes play an important role, too. Doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, social workers, principals, teachers, and support staff often serve as the “front line” for observation of problems and for seeking out the proper resources.
Though it may seem obvious, local Police are a valuable, if sometimes overlooked, resource. If you have any reason to suspect that a child may be in danger, please report it to the police immediately. Officers can conduct a child welfare check or take other appropriate action, often quicker than anyone else.
If your parental rights are in question or endangered, or if you have a child in need of protective services, foster care, or other welfare services, there is a lot on the line. Give us a call and we can help.