DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Intake
1-2.2  Mandated Reports: Domestic Violence
Intake
1-2.2  Mandated Reports: Domestic Violence
Reference Points
Overview
When Must a Report Be Made
Response to the Report
Source Document


Reference Points
Effective Date: 11/1/07
Last Updated: 9/17/07
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Penal Code  § 11165.3
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code § 300 (c)


Overview   Under California law a mandated reporter must report, among other things, willful child endangerment or the willful infliction of unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child.  (Penal Code  § 11165.3)  In the context of domestic violence, a mandated reporter must consider whether there is a risk of physical or emotional harm to the child.  The fact that a child's parent or guardian has been the victim of domestic violence is not in and of itself a sufficient basis for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.  further, a child's exposure to a domestic violence incident in and of itself is not a sufficient basis for reporting suspected abuse or neglect.  Other factors must exist which lead the mandated reporter to reasonably suspect that the child's physical or emotional health is endangered as the result of domestic violence.  Mandated reporters in Santa Clara County may consult with a screener at the Child Abuse Hotline at (408) 299-2071 to determine whether a report is required.
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When Must a Report Be Made  

A mandated reporter must report suspected child abuse or neglect to child welfare services in the following situations:

         

(a)   A domestic violence incident which caused physical injury to the child or created a serious risk of physical injury to the child.

Factors to consider in determining whether a domestic violence incident created a serious risk of physical injury to the child include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Were objects thrown or broken in the presence of the child?
  • Did the perpetrator strike a victim who was holding a child or did the perpetrator hold a child while striking the victim?
  • Did the child physically intervene in the domestic violence?
  • Did the perpetrator threaten to kill or commit suicide?Did the perpetrator threaten the victim with a gun, knife or other weapon?
  • Did the perpetrator kick or bite or hit the victim with a fist?
  • Did the perpetrator hit or attempt to hit the victim with an object?
  • Did the perpetrator choke or strangle the victim?
  • Did the perpetrator stalk the victim or child?

OR

         

(b)   A domestic violence incident which caused serious emotional damage to the child or created a substantial risk      of serious emotional damage to the child.

Serious emotional damage (SED) in the context of child protection law means the child exhibits severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, untoward aggressive behavior toward self or others, as the result of the conduct of a parent or whose parent is incapable of providing appropriate care.  (Welfare and Institutions Code § 300, subd. c)  A report should be made if the child's SED was caused by domestic violence perpetrated by a parent.  Regardless of who the perpetrator is, a report also should be made if the parent who is a victim of domestic violence is

  • incapable of providing for the child's treatment or care for SED caused by domestic violence; or
  • unable to protect the child from repeated exposure to domestic violence even with the assistance of community and child welfare services.

 

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Response to a Report  

A report to child welfare services does not mean that the child will be removed from the domestic violence victim's home.  The Emergency Response social worker must consider the complexities of each case and determine the impact of the domestic violence incident (and other indications of maltreatment) on the child.  The law requires that reasonable efforts are made to prevent the need for removal of any child and to keep the child in the care of a non-offending parent whenever possible.  The child's safety is assessed in terms of:

  • The nature and severity of past violence
  • The risk of violence in the future
  • The child's degree of exposure and resilience
  • The presence of protective factors in the immediate and extended family
  • Available support from the community
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Source Document   pdf2 When to Contact Child Protective Services in Domestic Violence Cases: A Guide for Mandate Reporters: L. Michael Clark, Lead Deputy County Counsel, Santa Clara County, May 2003
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