Nowadays, in addition to the family, society is also considered responsible for the upbringing and development of children. The degree to which governments hold parents responsible for ensuring their children’s well-being through child welfare services varies among countries. In Iran, children have become a growing concern among civil society and policy makers. There have been significant changes in recent decades. Therefore, Iran’s academic and political literature is required to provide an explicit definition for child welfare that facilitates comparison and identification of policies and practices. Thus, this study aimed to determine the approach to child welfare in Iran by reviewing Iran’s laws and macro policies, and analysing them based on Gilbert, 1997, Gilbert et al., 2011 classification in order to provide an explicit and comprehensive definition for child welfare. To achieve this goal, Iran's national laws and macro policies (a total of 55 documents) were analysed by directed qualitative content analysis. According to the findings, child support and protection services in Iran are similar to a previous child protection approach in terms of three main categories of “problem frame”, “state–parent relationship and the role of the state” and “the mode and aim of intervention”, although some features of other approaches are apparent. Although there is a great emphasis on the family institution in Iran, the executive laws are more focused on punishing parents than supporting and empowering them with regard to child protection. This coercive and risk management approach is particularly evident in the new legislation.