Frequently Asked Questions

This webpage will connect you to the most frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) on many child welfare topics, including child abuse and neglect, foster care and other out-of-home placements, adoption, and more.

If you do not find an answer to your question, you can submit a question by clicking on the Ask a Question box.

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Constituent input and lobbying initiatives may help generate significant changes in State policy and procedures.

Concerns for the welfare of a child's safety and well-being should be reported to the child welfare agency in the state/county where the alleged maltreatment may be occurring. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, maintains a state-specific listing of child abuse and neglect reporting numbers Visit disclaimer page .

Custody and visitation orders are handled by the courts and enforceable by State law. If your visitation order was violated, you may wish to consult with and/or obtain the services of an attorney who is knowledgeable in family law matters in the applicable State. Your attorney should be able to help you explore your legal options and/or provide guidance on how to file a motion for contempt of court.

Only the court has the power to modify child custody arrangements to meet the needs of the child and to respond to changes in the parents’ lives due to illness, a job change, etc.

If your parental rights have been terminated by a court of law and/or your children have been legally adopted, in most States there is no provision for reinstating parental rights or reversing an adoption decree except under certain circumstances such as fraud, duress, coercion, etc.

Legal guardianship is one of the options available to parents who are planning for the care of their children in their absence due to a variety of situations, such as illness or incarceration. It allows parents to name a caregiver and to give the caregiver certain legal rights regarding the care of the child(ren). In most cases, the parents’ legal rights are not terminated and the parents still play a role in their children’s lives. As the legal guardian, you would have custody of the children, and you would have the authority to make decisions concerning the protection, education, care, discipline, etc.