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Rhode Island is a state-supervised and state-operated child welfare system. There are a total of five counties in Rhode Island with an estimated population of 1,051,511, according to 2013 census data. The five counties are divided into four service regions for those families receiving on-going case management. Child Protective Services are statewide and centralized. Rhode Island’s child welfare system includes the juvenile justice population, as well as those children in care and obtaining home-based services due to developmental disabilities and/or serious emotional disturbances. The largest racial/ethnic group in Rhode Island is White (86%), followed by Hispanic (13%), Black (7%), Asian (3%), and Native American (1%). The median household income in the state of Rhode Island is $54,619.
In 2013, Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) received 13,905 unduplicated reports of child abuse and neglect. Half of those reports (6,975) were investigated, and of those investigated, there were 2,294 indicated (substantiated) cases of child abuse and neglect involving 3,228 children. In December 2013, Rhode Island had 2,010 children under the age of 21 in out-of-home care, including foster care (relative and nonrelative), group homes, shelter care, residential facilities, and medical facilities.
Structure of the Child Welfare System
Child Welfare falls under DCYF and consists of four Divisions:
- Child Protective Services (CPS): DCYF’s Child Protective Investigations has 12 units around the state who specialize in the investigation of child abuse and neglect reports. They have five screening/intake units around the state which handle the intake of all cases which include indicated (substantiated) child abuse and neglect CPS investigations and all other cases that come to the attention of DCYF, such as mental health, probation, and juvenile justice calls.
- Family Service Unit (FSU): The FSU provides ongoing social services and case management support to children and families who are involved with DCYF due to abuse, neglect, dependency, or children’s mental health issues. FSU workers operate under the goal of maintaining intact families whenever possible. When children are placed out of the home, FSU workers strive to reunify families when it is safe to do so, and also work to achieve permanency for children in the event reunification is not possible. FSU is organized into 4 regional offices throughout the state. Regions 1 and 4 are located in Providence, Region 2 is located in Bristol, and Region 3 is located in Wakefield.
- Permanency Services Unit (PSU): The PSU is responsible for the adoption subsidies of approximately 2,500 children, which are reviewed biannually. Additionally, PSU reviews guardianship subsidies annually. PSU also provides short-term services to adoptive families after finalization of an adoption, in addition to referrals for community services for adoptive families.
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): The ICPC is responsible for the supervision and transfer of all placements involving children who are in custody in another state, but are placed with a relative or non-related extended family member in the state of Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Supercommunity project is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families and two private, nonprofit agencies: Family Service of Rhode Island and Adoption Rhode Island. Through a public- private partnership, the organizations have joined together to support and implement system change to create a trauma-informed, adoption-competent system of care. Each organization brings unique strengths to the collaboration. They are committed to sharing, learning, and creating a system that is anchored in research, innovation, and promising practices. For more information about Adoption Rhode Island and Family Service of Rhode Island, see www.adoptionri.org and www.familyserviceri.org.