DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Intake
1-8  CANC: Determining a Response to a Referral
Intake
1-8 CANC: Determining a Response to a Referral
Overview
Risk Assessment Guide
Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT)
Determining If An In-person Response is Required
When Is An In-Person Response Not Required
When Is An In-Person Response Required
Types of Responses to Referrals
Determining an In-Person Response Time
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 7/2/10
 Legal Basis:
PDF California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies an Procedures (MPP) Division 31-105
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 16501(f)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
Bullet Mandated Reporter and Others--non CWS/CMS - not online
 CWS/CMS Forms:
Bullet Referral Management Section
Bullet Comprehensive Assessment Tool - Response Determination


Overview  

The type of response to a report of child abuse or neglect begins with an assessment of the child and family.  The assessment must consider three factors, 1) safety   2) risk  and 3) protective capacity, and examine the interplay among them.  Both challenges and strengths must be identified in determining whether intervention by the Department of Family and Children's Services is necessary.

The California Division of Social Services (CDSS) Division 31 Regulations require an in-person investigation, either immediate or within 10 calendar days, on referrals for which it is assessed that a child is endangered as the result of abuse or neglect. The response time is determined based on the criteria below, which are evaluated using information collected under CDSS guidelines.

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Risk Assessment Guidelines  

See OPP Assessment Guide Handbook 3 for a detailed listing.

Risk Assessment Guidelines
(not listed in order of priority)


Risk Factor
Criteria
Age of child

The younger the child, the higher the risk. Children age 5 and under are given higher priority.

Ability of child to self-protect

The less the child is able to protect him/herself mentally and physically, the higher the risk.

Child characteristics

Any particular vulnerabilities or special circumstances (e.g., developmental delay, and cognitive impairment) should be taken into account.  These may be indicated by behavior and interactions with caretakers and others.

Frequency of incident and history of abuse/neglect

The more frequent the occurrence of abuse, as indicated by the caller and prior referrals, the higher the risk.

Severity of injury

The more serious the injury, the higher the risk.

Location of injury

Injuries to head, face and torso indicate higher risk than to buttocks or limbs.

Parent/Caregiver ability

The lower the level of parenting ability or willingness to resolve problems and interact with the child, the higher the degree of risk. History of parent substance abuse, criminal behavior and mental health issues indicate higher risk.

Perpetrator access

The more access the perpetrator has to the child, the higher the risk.

Probability of injury

The more likely that the incident would result in sever injury or death, the higher the risk.

Recentness of incident

The more recent the incident,the higher the risk.

Credibility of the reporter

The more credible the reporter, for example, a mandated reporter, the higher the risk.


Other factors to consider:

  • The family's strengths and challenges.
  • The presence of other children who may be in danger.
  • The family's previous child welfare history, if any.
  • Prior criminal history, if any, as it relates to the alleged abuse or neglect.
  • Whether the child alleged to be abused or the family can be located.
  • Whether there is an open case and the problem described in the referral is already being adequately addressed.
  • Whether there is additional information from collateral sources.
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Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT)  

Screening social workers complete the Comprehensive Assessment - Response Determination (RD) Tool to assist in making a determination about responding to a report of child abuse and neglect. An Initial Screening Tree is always completed. This tree directs the screener either to close the referral or to go to one of the five other Decision Trees that cover the following allegations:

  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Caretaker Absent/Incapacitated
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Determining if an In-Person Response is Required  

The following determination chart applies to new referrals on children not currently under DFCS supervision.  If a referral is received on a child who is under DFCS supervision, the procedures in OPP Chapter 1-5.1: CANC: Referrals Regarding Children Under DFCS Supervision are followed.  Further, a Joint Response call from law enforcement does not require a response determination, as the determination for an in-person response has already been made by policy.

Procedures for New Referrals on Children

Not Under DFCS Supervision

 

Determine if. .

If yes..
If no. .
1. The caller is reporting allegations that meet the criteria of abuse, neglect, exploitation or substantial risk of harm. Proceed to # 3

Proceed to #2

2. The caller is a mandated reporter insisting that a report be taken

Create a referral in CWS/CMS.

Evaluate-out the referral.

Complete the form Mandated Reporter and Others--non CWS/CMS.

Do not create a referral in CWS/CMS.

3.

The child can be located.

Proceed to # 4

Complete the form Consultation and Information Call Tracking Sheet.

Do not create a referral in CWS/CMS.

No further steps.

4.

The same incident has already been reported to the CANC.

Complete the Consultation and Information Call Tracking Sheet. Document the referral # of the original referral.

Do not create a referral in CWS/CMS.

No further steps.

Proceed to # 5
5.

The alleged perpetrator is a caregiver to the

child, or the caregiver is negligent in

allowing

or

unable or unwilling to prevent the

alleged perpetrator access to the child.

Proceed to # 6

Create a referral in CWS/CMS.

Evaluate-out the referral.

6. There is additional information from collateral contacts or documentation previously recorded in CWS/CMS, which invalidates the reported allegation(s).

Create a referral in CWS/CMS.

Evaluate-out the referral.

Proceed to #7
7.

The reporter has described specific acts and/or behavioral indicators that are suggestive of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Proceed to #8

Create a referral in CWS/CMS.

Evaluate-out the referral.

8.
  • The child is a dependent of another county and
  • Is placed in Santa Clara County

and

  • Meets one of the above criteria

See Intercounty Protocol for Out-of-Home Abuse and Neglect Allegations

Proceed to # 9
9. The CAT RD tool has been used to make the assessment. Proceed to determining a response time.

Complete the CAT RD tool.

Proceed to determining a response time.

 

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When Is An In-Person Response Not Required  

Based on an assessment that includes information gathered on the CAT Response Determination tool, collateral contacts, a review of previous referrals and other relevant information, the Screening social worker determines whether an in-person response is required.  A supervisor must give final approval, if the determination is made that an in-person response is not required.  If the referral involves a child under DFCS supervision placed in out-of-home care, the CANC supervisor or a Bureau Program Manager must also give approval for a no-response determination. 

Situations may be reported that, in and of themselves, do not constitute referrals appropriate for investigation. An in-person response may not be required if the:

  • Situation does not meet the criteria for abuse, neglect or exploitation as defined in WIC 300.
  • Reporter's credibility is questionable.
  • Perpetrator does not have access to the child and is not likely to have access within the immediate future, and the parents are protecting.
  • History and disposition of prior referrals suggest that the allegation is unfounded.
  • Abuse occurred in the past with no current risk to child or other children.

More specific situations that may not be appropriate for investigation include, but are not limited to the following, include:

  • Abuse, neglect or lack of supervision in school or day care or other out-of-home facility (refer to the agency responsible for licensing the facility)
  • Bruises with no indication of abuse
  • Child is a runaway (refer referent to law enforcement.)
  • Young children left unattended for two to three hours in the daytime or early evening where no clear and present danger can be cited; factors that should be considered include: the child's age, maturity, access to parent (e.g., by telephone), and any vulnerabilities, such as a developmental disability
  • Custody battles (For further information, see DFCS Family Court Protocol and/or DFCS/Probate Court Protocol.)
  • Death of a child where there are no other children in the family
  • Drug/alcohol abuse by parents and no other evidence of child endangerment
    • See policy over ride regarding newborns for which the results of a toxicology screen is positive for illegal drugs.
  • Families or children reported as a nuisance in a neighborhood  
  • Fetal abuse, acts of negligence affecting the unborn, including substance-abusing using drugs where there is no stated detriment to the child
  • Non-familial rape
  • Consensual sex between children of certain ages
  • Pregnancy of a minor (age of the minor to be considered)
  • Head lice (refer referent to local public health agency)
  • History of childhood physical or sexual abuse of a child who is now an adult (refer referent to law enforcement agency), unless there are indications that other children are currently at risk
  • Homeless family or overcrowded housing
  • Mandated reporter calling to fulfill legal obligations but indicating no abuse has occurred
  • MInors with mental health problems, unless the parent is neglecting the mental health needs of the child or the parent's conduct is causing the child to suffer or be at risk of serious emotional damage.
  • Neglect cases closed as unfounded or inconclusive within past month and no new allegations or evidence
  • Sounds of children crying or being spanked with no indication of injury
  • Parent-child conflict where there is no evidence of abuse
  • Parents sleeping or bathing with children, considering age of the child, sex, and circumstances
  • Physical or sexual abuse referrals that have already been investigated with no new allegations or evidence
  • Reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks with no evidence of serious physical injury
  • Truancy, when there is no indication of abuse or neglect


Factors that are known to decrease the risk of danger to a child include the following :

  • The injury is minor or in a location that does not pose a serious risk
  • The alleged abuse occurred long ago or infrequently
  • The child is old enough to protect him/herself and has no developmental disabilities or cognitive impairments
  • The parents are willing/able to protect the child
  • The parents have a support system
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When Is An In-Person Response Required  

The Screening social worker requests an in-person investigation under the following conditions:

  • Injury, disability, pain, death, illness or severe emotional harm to the child is likely or has occurred as a result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

  • A law enforcement agency reports that a child is at immediate risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation

  • A juvenile probation officer reports that a child, under the probation officer's supervision, is being or in danger of being abused, neglected or exploited
    • While ER has the legal responsibility to investigate referrals from the Juvenile Probation Department regarding child abuse or neglect, DFCS has no obligation to initiate a dependency proceeding, if it is concluded that the child is safe.

  • The Screening social worker determines that a child referred by law enforcement is at immediate risk.

  • A Family Court Judge makes a finding and requests an investigation of possible abuse or neglect.
  • The child is under DFCS supervision and placed in out-of-home care.
    • The referral may be evaluated-out and closed only with approval from the CANC supervisor and bureau Program Manager II.
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Types of Responses to Referrals  

The Screening social worker classifies reports into one of the following categories:

     
  • No-Report

No-Report referrals are those reports for which a referral is not created in CWS/CMS.  No-Report referrals include reports that:

  • Do not meet the definition of child abuse or neglect or
  • Cannot be entered into CWS/CMS due to lack of information on the part of the reporter (e.g. the child's name is unknown)
  • Are not applicable because the youth is 18 years of age or older.

Exceptions to the No-Report criteria include:

  • Reports in which a mandated reporter insists that a report be taken.
    • Even if the allegations do no meet the definition of child abuse or neglect, if a mandated reporter insists that a report is taken, a referral is created and entered into CWS/CMS.
  • Domestic violence reports.
    • All reports involving domestic violence are enetered into CWS/CMS.

No-Report referrals are documented on the form Consultation and Information Call Tracking Sheet.

 

    • No Response (Evaluate Out) reports are those which are assessed as not meeting the criteria for an in-person response.
      • Complete pages 3 and 4 of the CAT Response Determination tool in gathering information for the assessment.
    • A referral is created in CWS/CMS and evaluated out.
    • The referral is not assigned to a worker.
      • A referral to another community agency may or may not be provided by the Screening social worker.
    • The referral is submitted to the CANC supervisor for approval.
      • Referrals on children in out-of-home placements which are evaluated-out require CANC supervisor or Program Manager approval.
     
  • 10-Day Emergency Response
    • Response required as soon as possible and no later than 10 days of the date when the referral was received.


  • Immediate Response
    • 2 hours response (DFCS policy) and no longer than 24 hours from the time that the referral was received
      • All reports abuse or neglect of children under DFCS supervision placed in out-of-home care are prioritized as Immediate Response, unless the CANC supervisor or Bureau Program Manager has been consulted and approved the referral being evaluated-out and closed.

  • Joint Response
    • Call is received from law enforcement requesting social worker assistance.
    • Response time goal is within 30 minutes.
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Determining an In-Person Response Time  

Santa Clara County DFCS response procedures incorporate three different response times, Immediate Response (IR), 10-Day Response and Joint Response. The Screening social worker follows specifications described in Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 16501(f) and uses the CAT Response Determination tool to determine a response time.  Screening social workers and the CANC social work supervisor may use their professional judgment to override the initially determined response times for forensic reasons. If a social worker or supervisor assesses that either for child welfare or evidentiary reasons a response time different from the initial determination is needed, the social worker or supervisor shall document the rationale for the decision in the Screener Alert  Box on the ID page of the CWS/CMS referral.


  • Immediate Response

Child is:

  • In imminent danger, In a situation likely to cause physical injury, or death, pain or severe emotional harm or
  • Under DFCS supervision and placed in out-of-home care. 
 

Though State regulations require an immediate response within 24 hours to referrals where a child is at imminent risk of abuse or neglect, it is Santa Clara County's Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) policy to respond as soon as possible and within 2 hours to those referrals determined to require an immediate response.

Included under immediate response priorities are those referrals in which:

    • A child is in imminent danger, in a situation likely to cause physical injury, death, pain, or severe emotional harm, including a child at risk of sexual abuse where the perpetrator has access.
    • A law enforcement agency refers a child who is at immediate risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
    • A Judge refers a child who is suspected to be at immediate risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
    • A social worker determines from a law enforcement report that the child is at immediate risk.
    • The child is under DFCS supervision and placed in out-of-home care.
      • The report may be evaluated-out or down-graded to a 10-day priority after consultation with and approval by both either the CANC supervisor or one of the bureau Program Managers.
    • A child younger than five years is an alleged victim of physical or sexual abuse, as defined by law/regulations.
    • A child of any age has been sexually abused, and the perpetrator has access to the child.
    • A child has a visible injury in a high-risk area (head, face, torso).
    • Any situation that could lead to death or injury but where there is no current injury (for example, a positive toxicology screen or failure to thrive).
    • Medical practitioners request assistance with an assessment for a child ready to be discharged.
    • A child is afraid to go home and there has been a recent in-home event.
    • A situation where there is a risk of flight, when it is in conjunction with child abuse or neglect.



  
  • 10-Day Response

Child is at risk, but there is no imminent threat of harm.

A response within 10 days is generally appropriate for the following conditions:

    • Allegations of general neglect (e.g., a caretaker has allegedly failed to provide food, shelter, clothing, or supervision)
    • When a child is protected, (e.g., hospitalized for a period of time)
    • When a child is in the care of a relative who is not the perpetrator or in another safe place
    • An alleged perpetrator does not have access to the child
    • There is not imminent danger
    • Where the child is not afraid to return home
    • Law enforcement has already investigated the situation
    • There are no reported physical injuries or allegations of physical abuse or molestation



This is a response to a contact from law enforcement requesting social worker assistance in  assessing/removing children from a family situation.  The target timeframe for Joint Response is 30 minutes.

For a child who is hospitalized for injuries from physical abuse and who has siblings, the ER social worker or law enforcement officer decides whether it is necessary to see the siblings within the same time frame designated for the injured child, because those siblings could reasonably be assumed to be at similar risk.

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Other References  
Bullet OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT - Response Determination Tool
Bullet OPP Chapter 1-5.1: CANC: Referrals Regarding Children Under DFCS Supervision
PDF Intercounty Protocol for Out-of-Home Abuse and Neglect Allegations
PDF Sexual Abuse Reporting Chart
Bullet OPP Chapter 1-7: Evaluating-out Referrals
Bullet OPP Chapter 2-2: Joint Response
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