VDSS & the Virginia Social Services System
VDSS is part of the larger Virginia Social Services System (VSSS), which is a partnership of three key organizations responsible for the administration, supervision and delivery of social services in Virginia:
- LDSS (Local Department of Social Services), which represents the 120 local departments of social services
- VaCAP (Virginia Community Action Partnership), an association of community action programs across the state
- VDSS (Virginia Department of Social Services).
VDSS Organizational Structure
VDSS consists of:
- Home Office in Richmond Virginia, which houses its Divisions and Program Areas
- Five Regional Offices which oversee and support community and local organizations
- Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) District Offices
- Licensing Offices
VDSS Divisions & Program Areas
Division of Appeals & Fair Hearings
The Division of Appeals & Fair Hearings (AFH) provides individuals aggrieved by certain local agency or DCSE District Office actions with an opportunity to be heard and present evidence in an administrative hearing presided over by an impartial Hearing Officer. The process ensures that all constituents receive high quality human/social services from the local offices with which they interact on a day to day basis.
Programs Managed by the Division
AFH oversees administrative appeals in three broad categories: Benefits & Services, including SNAP and TANF, Child Protective Services and Child Support Enforcement. Each programmatic area has specific rules and guidelines addressing what agency action can be appealed and the procedures to follow in filing and pursuing an appeal.
For an overview of how the Division operates across all three program areas, please review the Division's procedure manual.
For general information relating to Child Protective Services Appeals, please visit our CPS Appeals page. Information specific to the state level appeal with VDSS can be found in our CPS state appeals Fact Sheet on this page.
To learn more about appeals in Benefit & Services cases, including appeals of local agency actions in SNAP and TANF cases, please visit our Benefits & Services Appeals page. This page also includes information of interest to those who have been referred to AFH for alleged public assistance fraud.
Finally, to read more about appeals of actions taken by the District Offices in Child Support Enforcement Cases, please visit our Child Support Appeals page.
Division of Benefit Programs
The Division of Benefit Programs develops and administers programs that provide timely and accurate income support benefits and employment services to families and individuals in the Commonwealth, in order to assist their movement from dependency on public assistance programs to self-sufficiency.
The Division of Benefit Programs is responsible for the supervision and management of 16 public assistance programs, administered by 120 local departments of social services.
Virginia's welfare reform initiative, the Virginia Independence Program (VIP) and its work component, the Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW), operate under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The cornerstone of VIP/VIEW in Virginia is a "work-first" philosophy.
The programs assigned to the division are administered locally through some 2,400 workers and account for a total expenditure of federal, state and local funds of over $2.4 billion per year.
Other programs the division is responsible for include:
- Energy Assistance (comprised of Fuel, Crisis and Cooling components)
- General Relief (GR)
- SNAP & SNAPET (SNAP Employment & Training)
In addition to the programs listed above, the department has an interagency agreement with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to develop policy, provide technical assistance and training to local departments of social services for the Medicaid Program. DMAS is the single-state agency responsible for the administration of the Medicaid Program. Medicaid provides medical insurance to nearly 1 million needy Virginians at a cost over $8 billion per year.
Division of Child Care & Early Childhood Development
The programs and activities of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Development (CCECD) enhance the quality, affordability, and supply of child care available to Virginia's families. CCECD works in conjunction with 120 local departments of social services to operate a child care subsidy program that enables parents to work. The Division implements a quality rating and improvement system for center-based and home-base child care programs, educates parents about the characteristics of high quality child care, provides a professional development system for the child care workforce, and collaborates with early care and education partners for a better coordinated early childhood network in Virginia. CCECD ensures compliance with federal and state regulations through performance-based contracting, performance monitoring, and sound fiscal stewardship.
Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE)
DCSE is responsible for ensuring that Virginia's children receive the financial support due to them by locating noncustodial parents, establishing and enforcing child support obligations, and collecting and disbursing payments. DCSE also has programs to facilitate paternity establishment, encourage noncustodial parents' involvement in their children's lives, and assist incarcerated noncustodial parents as they transition back to society.
Groups & Programs Managed by the Division
DCSE has 21 district offices to serve its clients. In addition, DCSE manages the Paternity Establishment Program (PEP), Intensive Case Monitoring Program (ICMP) and the Access and Visitation Grant, all aimed at the VDSS agency-wide goal of engaging families for success.
For more information, please visit DCSE's Child Support webpage.
Division of Community & Volunteer Services (CVS)
VDSS maintains close relationships with community organizations, faith based organizations, non-profits and local departments of social services. These relationships enable the Virginia Social Services System (VSSS) to pool resources to provide a safety net for services for those most in need. CVS seeks out ways to partner with the Commonwealth, private, volunteer and community organizations to share information and fortify the VSSS statewide network of services. provides accurate information, research expertise and strategic planning coordination for VDSS and the VSSS network.
Groups & Programs Managed by CVS
CVS oversees VDSS' five regional offices, which in turn oversee local department administration and delivery of services and programs by providing training, program consultation, monitoring, technical assistance, and coaching of local staff to assure that federal and state policies and regulations are properly implemented. Field offices also house and provide administrative support for the Division of Appeals and Fair Hearings and the Division of Licensing Programs.
The following groups/programs are managed by CVS:
- 2-1-1 VIRGINIA, whose purpose is to manage a health and human services information and referral network which Virginians can access by dialing 211.
- Community Services Block Grant, which is designed to wage war on poverty.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a refundable federal income tax credit for low income working individuals and families.
- Family and Children's Trust Fund (FACT), which provides support and development for the prevention and treatment of family violence in Virginia.
- Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), which emphasizes partnerships between the private and public sector to assist the economically deprived.
- Office of Community and Prevention Partnerships (OCPP), which is responsible for the Prisoner Reentry Pilot Programs, the Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage and Stable Families Initiative, and the Virginia Mentoring Initiative.
- Office of Newcomer Services (ONS), which is responsible for coordinating, planning, implementing and evaluating Virginia's refugee program.
- Office of Family Violence (OFV), which supports, strengthens and monitors community-based domestic violence programs and acts as a resource to local departments of social services on issues of domestic violence.
- Office on Volunteerism and Community Service (OVCS), which works with those helping to address needs in areas of education, public safety and human needs across the Commonwealth through AmeriCorps programs.
Division of Family Services (DFS)
The Division of Family Services promotes safety, permanency and well-being for children, families and individuals in Virginia. It is composed of the following units:
- Child Protective Services
- Foster Care
- Interstate Compact on Placement of Children/Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance
- Prevention and Resource Family Development
- Quality Assurance and Accountability
The Division's programs are designed to address the needs of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens. The programs balance effective intervention (when necessary) and emphasis on personal responsibility for safety, stability and well-being. The programs are state supervised and locally administered. Those operated at the local level are:
- Child Protective Services
- Foster Care & Foster Care Prevention
- Youth Services (aka Independent Living)
- Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF)
Division programs that are state administered:
Division of Finance (DOF)
DOF performs management and oversight of the annual budget and expenditures for the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). It provides guidance for the department's financial policies and ensures fiscal compliance with state and federal regulations. The Division of Finance is also responsible for processing financial transactions for the department and reporting the results of those transactions to local agencies, field offices, state and federal entities. it is also responsible for overseeing the following subunits:
- General Services
- Office of Emergency Planning and Community Response (OEPCR)
Division of Human Resources
This division provides comprehensive human resource management services, serving as planners,consultants and strategists to our state and local customers in support of social services programs. It's functional areas include:
- Salary Administration, and Compensation and Classification
- Training and Development
- Employee Relations and Equal Employment Opportunity
- Policy Administration
- Benefits, Records Management and Human Resource Information Systems
The Division provides comprehensive human resource management services to 120 local departments of social services, comprised of approximately 8,000 employees. It also provides human resource management services to 1600 state employees, inclusive of approximately 134 managers and supervisors, five regional offices and 22 District Child Support Offices, four of which are privatized.
The program's legal authoriity is located in sections 63.1-26 and 63.1-87 of the Code of Virginia and Federal 5CFR, Part 900 subpart F(b).
Division of Information Systems (DIS)
The Division of Information Systems develops and maintains automated information systems in support of the department's business. Other functions include system operations, customer support, network services, application database management, business intelligence, software quality assurance, and system and application security.
The division works with department business units to manage information technology resources using the Information Technology Investment Management (ITIM) methodology. This set of best practices operates through business-led steering committees and a department Investment Board. This structure assures that information technology dollars are spent in alignment with business defined strategic goals and objectives.
Division of Licensing Programs
The Division of Licensing Programs protects children and vulnerable adults in day and residential care settings. It operates from Home Office in Richmond, Virginia and eight licensing offices statewide.
Adult Programs Regulated by the Division
Children's Programs Regulated by the Division
- Child Caring Institutions (CCI)
- Children's Residential Facilities (CRF)
- Certified Preschools (CP)
- Child Day Centers (CDC)
- Family Day Homes (FDH)
- Family Day Systems (FDS)
- Voluntarily Registered Family Day Homes (VRFDH)
- Religious Exempt Child Day Centers (RECDC)
- Licensed Independent Foster Homes (IFH)
- Licensed Child Placing Agencies (LCPA)
Background Investigations Responsibilities
Division of Public Affairs
The Division of Public Affairs (PA) provides comprehensive internal and external communications services to the Department of Social Services and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. PA Directs the agency's media and public relations, public information and employee communications programs including support for the State Board of Social Services and local departments of social services, as appropriate. PA is dedicated to supporting the agency's mission through awareness and outreach to employees, the media and the general public. Responsibilities include developing and maintaining the department's public and internal web portals, supervising the state-wide hotlines that respond to citizen inquiries, creating marketing and public relations campaigns and materials, and responding to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Effective and reliable communication to both external and internal audiences is integral to supporting and achieving the agency's goals. Our top priority, at all times, is to maintain transparency, consistency, accuracy and credibility in all of the agency's communication efforts.
Office of Learner Services & Resources
LSR delivers innovative, learner-focused training for local and state DSS staff through classroom courses, eLearning and WebEx. Adhering to national best practices, the LSR team develops, delivers and evaluates training to support VDSS's mission and strategic plan
- Support local and state staff in achieving success around agency mission and strategic objectives
- Deliver high-quality skills, policy and system training for the workforce
- Administrate five regional VDSS Training Centers and the VDSS WebEx platform
- Launch new training methodologies, such as transfer of learning and classroom tablets
- Provide state-of-the-art leadership training, including the Local Directors' Learning Experience
- Create and facilitate leading-edge learning to support LDSS' high-performance work force
Office of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs (OLRA)
The Office of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs provides oversight of all legislative and regulatory activities of the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). Primary responsibilities include:
- Monitoring VDSS-related legislation during each General Assembly session and coordinating year-round legislative activities
- Ensuring departmental compliance with state and federal mandates in the development and promulgation of social services regulations
- Providing technical support to the State Board of Social Services
Office of Research & Planning (ORP)
The Office of Research & Planning (ORP) provides research expertise to state and local social services staff as well partners of the Virginia Social Services System (VSSS). Responsibilities include:
- Analyzing data
- Assisting with research and survey design
- Conducting and managing comprehensive program evaluations
- Developing databases to facilitate research
- Operating the VDSS Institutional Review Board
- Producing a performance indicator system for local VDSS offices
- Strategic planning coordination for VDSS and the VSSS network
- Technical assistance on data analysis