DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 3: Assessment Guides
3-16  Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT)
Assessment Guides
3-16  Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT)
Reference Points
Overview
About the Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT)
The Five CAT Tools
Policies and Procedures Specific to DFCS
Out-of-Home Abuse/Neglect Referrals
Response Determination (RD) Assessment Tool
Emergency Response Assessment Tool
Placement Assessment Tool
Continuing Services Assessment Tool
Case Closure Assessment Tool
Supervisory Review Options
Filing the CATs in the Case File
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 5/1/07
Last Updated: 5/15/07
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window California State Program Improvement Plan (PIP)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Comprehensive Assessment Tool
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Comprehensive Assessment Tool


Overview  

In 2004, the State convened the California Safety Assessment Workgroup, in response to a federal review which pointed to California's need to move toward closer compliance with federal mandates.  A State Program Improvement Plan (PIP) was formulated by the workgroup.  One of the goals of the PIP was the implementation of a standardized, statewide comprehensive assessment approach in working with families regarding levels of safety, risk, parental protective capacity as well as family strengths and needs. The overall approach of the PIP shifted the criteria for accountability toward a cycle of continuous improvement focused on achieving results related to safety, permanence and well-being. 

As part of the PIP implementation, the Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT) was one of two comprehensive assessment approaches offered to counties by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).  Santa Clara County has joined with ten other counties in implementing the CAT.   The SPHERE Institute, a non-profit policy firm established by scholars from Stanford University, evaluate the data gathered by the assessment tools.  Overall data collection and analysis are to provide important feedback at both the local and State level regarding trends in child welfare practice.

 

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About the CAT  

The CAT incorporates five tools which document assessment observations at seven specific decision points through the life of a case. The tools are not intended to be prescriptive.  They are intended to standardize decision making and to supplement a social worker's knowledge and skills used in making sound professional judgments by:

  • Guiding social worker's consideration of factors related to the three core elements of assessment—safety, risk and protective capacity—through the life of a case.
  • Creating a record of assessment results at critical decision points through the life of a case.
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The Five CAT Tools  

The five tools of the CAT with the corresponding decision points are:

  1. Response Determination Assessment Tool
    • Determine Response

  2. Emergency Response Assessment Tool
    • Initial Safety Determination
    • Referral Disposition
                                       
  3. Continuing Services Assessment Tool
    • Case Planning
    • Reunification

  4. Placement Assessment Tool
    • Placement

  5. Case Closure Assessment Tool
    • Case Closure
     

In using each of the five tools of the CAT, social workers should:

  • Complete each tool using the best information available at the time decisions are made and assessment results recorded.
  • Complete each tool following the instructions delivered during the CAT training and available in the CAT User Guide.
     
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Policies and Procedures Specific to DFCS  

Though one purpose of the CAT is to standardize decision making, the unique organizational structures of the eleven different counties that use the CAT result in differences in implementation policies and procedures.  At DFCS the specific policies and procedures related to the CAT include that:

  • All social workers shall incorporate the relevant Comprehensive Assessment Tools into their practice and complete the designated tool at the appropriate decision making point.  

  • All Comprehensive Assessment Tools must be entered electronically or electronic copies of the tool must be created.

  • Completion of narrative dialog boxes is optional on all of the tools, except for the Comments/Closing Summary question in the Case Closure Tool.
  • Substitute care providers' names are entered by using the first name and last initial of the primary provider along with an abbreviation of the facility type (e.g. Martha R. - FH).
  • The Dependent Intake social worker completes the second part of the Emergency Response tool (the Referral Disposition), when there is a child removal.
  • Printing hard copies of the CATs is not required, though supervisors may request that their unit submit hard copies.
    • The exception to this is the CAT - Emergency Response Tool, when there is a child removal and the ER Tool is then completed by two different social workers.  The ER social worker prints out the ER Tool and both the social worker and the supervisor sign the tool after Question #25.
  • Social workers and supervisors type in their names on the signature lines at the end of the CATs.
    • When an referral is prioritized for an in-person response, the CANC supervisor does not type in his/her name on the CAT - Response Determination Tool.
  • Social workers navigate in and out of the Emergency Response, Continuing Services, Placement and Closing Tools by clicking the Exit and Save Document  button at the bottom of the CAT WIZARD.
  • Supervisors save and send for analysis completed Emergency Response, Continuing Services, Placement and Closing Tools by clicking the Form Completed, Save for Analysis button at the bottom of the CAT WIZARD.
    • The exception to this is that Dependent Intake social workers use the Form Completed, Save for Analysis button when they finish completing the Emergency Response form. 
  • CATs are never attached to court reports or submitted to court, except when requested as part of disclosure for a trial.


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Out-of-Home Abuse/Neglect Referrals

 

 

A Response Determination tool and Emergency Response tool is completed whenever a report is received regarding abuse or neglect of a child placed out-of-home and under DFCS supervision.  In completing the tools, the social worker applies information about the substitute caregiver to the questions about parents/guardians.

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Response Determination Assessment Tool

 

See OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT - Response Determination Tool.

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Emergency Response Assessment Tool

 

See OPP Chapter 3-16.2: CAT - Emergency Response Tool.

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Continuing Services Assessment Tool  

See OPP Chapter 3-16.3: CAT - Continuing Services Tool.

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Placement Assessment Tool
 

See OPP Chapter 3-16.4: Placement Assessment Tool.

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Case Closure Assessment  

See OPP Chapter 3-16.5: CAT - Case Closure Tool.

 
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Supervisory Review Options  

All tools must be reviewed and signed by supervisors, except when procedures specifically state that a supervisor review and signature is not required.  There are several options from which a supervisor may choose to receive the CAT from social worker.

 

  1. Supervisor and social worker fill out the tool online together during supervision.

    Supervisor:

    • Creates the tool in CWS/CMS during supervision
    • Completes the tool with the social worker.
    • Saves the tool by clicking on the Form Completed, Save for Analysis button at the bottom of the Wizard Main Menu.
    • Prints out a hard copy of the tool.
    • Signs the hard copy of the tool.

    Social worker:

    • Reviews the tool with the supervisor.
    • Signs the hard copy with the approval signature of the supervisor.
    • Files the signed tool in the referral or case folder.



  2. Social worker fills out the tool online for later review by the supervisor.

    Social worker:

    • Completes the tool in CWS/CMS.
    • Notifies the supervisor that the tool is ready for review.
    • Signs the hard copy tool after supervisory approval.
    • Files the approved tool in the referral or case folder.
     

    Supervisor:

    • Reviews the tool.
      • The preference is that the tool be reviewed with the social worker during supervision.
    • Saves the tool by clicking on the Form Completed, Save for Analysis button at the bottom of the Wizard Main Menu.
    • Prints out a hard copy of the tool.
    • Signs the hard copy of the tool.
    • Returns the tool with approval signature to the social worker for filing.



  3. Social worker fills out the tool, prints out a copy and submits it as an attachment to the applicable document:
    • Referral
    • VFM or IS Agreement
    • DI Intake packet
    • Case Plan
    • Court Report

    The social worker:

    • Completes the tool in CWS/CMS.
    • Prints out a hard copy of the tool.
    • Saves the tool online by clicking the Exit and Save Document button at the lower right of the WIZARD Main Menu.
    • Submits the tool with applicable document.
    • Receives signed approved hard copy of tool from supervisor.
    • Signs approved hard copy of the tool.
    • Files the tool in referral or case folder.
      • Do not attach a tool to any court report.
       

The supervisor:

    • Reviews the tool.
    • Signs the hard copy of the tool, if no changes or clarifications are necessary.
      • If changes are necessary, the supervisor discusses the changes with the social worker and has the social worker makes the agreed upon changes.
    • Saves the tool by clicking on the   Form Completed, Save for Analysis button at the bottom of the Wizard Main Menu.
    • Returns the signed hard copy of the tool to the social worker.
      • Do not attach a tool to any court report.
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Filing the CATs in the Case File  

The CATs are filed in the following locations in the case file:

  • Response Determination Assessment-

    Under the Emergency Response tab. (First section left hand side)  

  • Emergency Response Assessment-

Under the Emergency Response tab. (First section left hand side)

  • Continuing Services Assessment-

Under case summary located over the Emergency Response tab (First section left hand side top)

  • Placement Assessment-

Under the Placement Data tab. ( Located first section flap right hand side)

  • Case Closure

Over the Emergency Response tab. (First section left  hand side top)

  • The Case Closure Tool replaced the Case Summary (SC409).
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Other References  
PDF CAT User Guide
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT - Response Determination Tool
bullet2 CANC: Assigning Emergency Response Referrals
bullet2 Emergency Response Protocol
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT - Response Determination Tool
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.2: CAT - Emergency Response Tool
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.3: CAT - Continuing Services Tool
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.4: Placement Assessment Tool
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.5: CAT - Case Closure Tool
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