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Get Answers to FAQs About District Child Welfare

How many children are in the child welfare system?

As of August 2016, CFSA was serving 2,500 children - - 62 percent - - in their homes and 38 percent in out-of-home care. For trends in number of children served, see the document on Children and Youth CFSA Statistics, July 2016.

How old do children have to be before they can stay home alone?

DC law says a child is anyone up to age 18 but does not give a specific age at which children can be on their own at home. You need to use your own good judgment. At the same time, we can provide some insight into when leaving a child alone crosses the line into neglect. When CFSA gets a report of a child left alone, we look at each situation individually. We consider several factors that you, too, will want to think about when deciding your child is ready to self-supervise for a time.

  • Age: Infants, young children, and others who need constant care should never be left alone. In general, the older the child, the lower the risk.
  • Maturity: Infants and young children aren’t ready. Beyond that, you know your child. A trustworthy 12-year-old may be fine at home for an hour while you run an errand. The same situation may not be a good idea for an unruly 17-year-old.
  • Length of time: There’s a vast difference between leaving a child or teen at home for a couple of hours versus all day, overnight, or for several days. In general, the shorter the time alone, the lower the risk.
  • Safety: Have you set ground rules for the child while home alone? Does the child know how to reach you and what to do in an emergency? Do you have a backup plan in case you can't get home on time? In general, planning and preparation lower risk.

Can I see the records from when I was adopted in DC?

Adoption records in DC are sealed. You will need to petition the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to break the seal on your records. To get started, visit To discuss the process with a knowledgeable person at CFSA, call (202) 727-3655.

Can I get my name removed from the District’s Child Protection Register?

If you think your name shouldn’t be in the Child Protection Register, request a Fair Hearing. Go to link, complete the form, and file it as instructed. For more information, call the CFSA Fair Hearings Coordinator at (202) 724-3748.

What do I need to know to start a group home for children or youth in DC?

A good place to start is with the licensing requirements for group homes serving youth in the DC Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Title 29, Chapter 62. Go to and type 29-62 in the By Chapter Number block.

Can I put my child in foster care because s/he is out of control?

No. CFSA can take custody of a child only when s/he is in immediate danger of abuse or neglect. You may be able to get help from:

  • Court Social Services, Juvenile Probation Branch, DC Superior Court, (202) 508-1851.
  • DC Department of Mental Health Access Help Line, 1 (888) 7WE-HELP 1 [1(888) 793-4357].

How can we get mandated reporter training for our employees?

All mandated reporters in the District are welcome to take free training online at

What can I do to help abused and neglected children in DC?

Thank you for asking. Two great options are:

Can we get a speaker to talk about child welfare topics?

Yes. Call CFSA Public Information, (202) 442-6180.