Nevada’s Child Welfare and Child Protective Services
Systems have historically functioned in a nationally unique “bifurcated” manner. Nevada has 17 counties, two of which possess population bases of over 100,000 persons: Washoe (Reno) and Clark County (Las Vegas). Historically, Washoe and Clark Counties supervised and administered child protective services, while the State’s DCFS supervised and administered statewide foster care and adoption services, as well as all residential therapeutic care. DCFS also supervised and administered both child protective and child welfare services in the 15 rural counties.
In 2001, the Nevada State Legislature determined that the bifurcated system was not conducive to promoting positive outcomes for children and families. Through passage of the Legislature’s Assembly Bill 1, the transfer of state foster/adoption care services from the state to the counties with populations exceeding 100,000 (Clark and Washoe) counties was mandated. The state transferred child welfare foster care/adoption services and staff to Washoe County Department of Social Services (WCDSS) in January 2003. The transfer of staff and services to Clark County Department of Family Services (CCDFS) was completed in October 2004. DCFS remains responsible for supervising and administering child protective/welfare services in the remaining 15 rural counties. Further, DCFS moves into a new oversight role for county-administered child protective and child welfare services delivery providing technical assistance, fiscal oversight for federal monies, and quality improvement activities. Last, Nevada’s systemic “bifurcation” remains in that DCFS retains responsibility for administering higher levels of out-of-home care for children in the custody of Washoe and Clark Counties.
Nevada’s child protective/welfare system ostensibly functions as three regional services areas: the Rural Region operates as a state supervised and state (DCFS) administered delivery system, and the Northern and Southern Regions operate as state supervised – county administered (WCDSS and CCDFS) child welfare delivery systems.
Child Welfare Agencies provide a continuum of services. The foundation for case planning is the assessment and comprehensive case management services that support the child, the parents, and the caregivers. The continuum includes emergency shelter care, foster family care (including relative placements), group home care, therapeutic foster care, respite care, residential treatment care both in and out-of-state, and independent living services. Additional services to support the child and family include in-home counseling (family preservation/intensive family services), early childhood services, and other outpatient services.