DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Intake
1-3.1 Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) Telephone System
Intake
1-3.1  Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) Telephone System
Reference Points
Overview
Legal Implications
Confidentiality
How the Recorded Calls Are Used
Who Has Access to the Recordings
How Long Are the Recordings Kept
Child Abuse Hotline Greeting
Intake Skills


Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 10/19/07
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Penal Codes (PC) § 631-633
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code § 827
Popup Window PC § 11167 and 11167.5


Overview  

In an effort to improve child protection services to the public, the Santa Clara County Department of Families and Children Services installed an Automated Caller Distribution (ACD) telephone system for the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) Hotline.   This system is capable of routing calls to the appropriate language worker and diverting calls that are not child abuse related to other sources.  This enables Screening social workers to focus more directly on their assessment and screening functions.

The telephone system has a call recording function.  This function assists in identifying staffing needs for the CANC and training needs for both the Screening social workers and mandated reporters, thus assuring consistency in quality of services. 

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Legal Implications  

Permission to Tape Phone Conversations

There are no statutes which apply specifically to recording telephone calls to the Hotline.  On the general subject of recording incoming calls, The California Supreme Court has found that "the Privacy Act has been read to require the assent of all parties to a communication before another may listen."   Further, Penal Codes § 631-633 preclude a government entity other than law enforcement from tape recording a phone call without the consent of the parties.  Therefore, tape recordings incoming calls is permissible provided a recorded message is  played at the beginning of each call announcing the call will be recorded. 

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Confidentiality   A foremost concern must be safeguarding the confidentiality of the tapes.  All DFCS information including the content of Hotline phone calls, is confidential under Welfare Instructions Code Section 827.  However, Hotline information must be treated with an extra measure of confidentiality as required by Penal Code § 11167 and 11167.5.  In general, the identity of the reporting party can only be disclosed by DFCS to law enforcement, County Counsel, and counsel for for the child in a dependency proceeding.  Other persons who would normally have access to DFCS records in the dependency proceeding are preclude from knowing the identity of the reporting party unless specifically authorized by the Juvenile Court. 
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How the Recorded Calls Are Used  

The recorded calls are used to:

  • Assist in determining CANC staffing needs.
  • Assist in identifying training and corrective actions that might be needed.
  • Assist in determining mandated reporter training needs.
  • Protect Screening social workers from false accusations.
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Who Has Access to the Recordings  

Those who have access to recordings include:

  • Parties in the legal process such as law enforcement, county Counsel and counsel for the children in dependency proceedings.
  • The Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) social work supervisor.
  • Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) administrators.
  • The worker himself/herself who may listen to his/her own recordings for feedback or training.

No recording is used for training purposes without the consent of the social worker in the recording.

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How Long Are the Recordings Kept   Recordings are kept for one year, after which they are deleted by Information Systems.
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Child Abuse Hotline Greeting  

When a call is made to the Child Abuse Hotline at 299-2071, the caller is told to call 911, if the call is about a life threatening situation.  The caller may continue in one of three languages, English, Spanish and Vietnamese.   Calls regarding the address of DFCS, report forms, the name of a social worker or the status of a report the caller has made are routed to clerical staff.  If the call is made to report child abuse or neglect, the caller is told that the call will be recorded.  If a Screening social worker is not immediately available, the caller is prompted every 30 seconds to remain on the line or to leave a message.

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Intake Skills  
  • Use a supportive, non threatening tone of voice.
  • Speak in a calm and reassuring manner.
  • Ask the caller clear, concise, explicit questions.
  • Elicit enough information to identify and locate parties involved.
  • Repeat back to the reporter key information to ascertain accuracy of the recording.
  • Ascertain the personal or professional relationship between the reporter and the family involved in the report.
  • Discuss confidentiality of information.
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