DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 4: Case Planning and Case Management Services
4-1.1  Case Plan Family Assessments
Case Planning and Case Management Services
4-1.1  Case Plan Family Assessments
Reference Points
Overview
DFCS Policy on Family Assessments
How to Create the Case Plan Family Assessment
Family Assessment Update in Case Plan Updates
Family Assessment Guidelines
Completing the Case Plan Family Assessment
Division 31 Regulations


Reference Points
Effective Date: 7/1/10
Last Updated: 6/29/10
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-201 and 31-205
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Client Management Section: Case Plan Family Assessment


Overview  

Assessment is an ongoing evaluative process.  It occurs from the time children and families come to the attention of the child welfare system-or before-and continues to case closure.   The goal of family assessments is to guide the social worker in developing a plan for quality and appropriate services for children and families.  A comprehensive family assessment is incorporates principles of family-centered, culturally competent practice.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31 Regulations, which guide public child welfare practice, specifies an assessment process as necessary to case planning.  An assessment is to be completed for each child for whom child welfare services are to be provided.  Regulations state that it is permitted to combine the assessment with the case plan as one document provided
that the assessment and the case plan are each readily identifiable as such and that the combined document contains all of the necessary components of both the assessment and the case plan.

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DFCS Policy on Family Assessments  

The policy of the Department of Family and Children's Services regarding family assessments is:

  • For Case Plans created for non-dependent children under DFCS supervision receiving Informal Supervision and Voluntary Family Maintenance services, a corresponding Case Plan Family Assessment is created in CWS/CMS.  
    • Social workers are also highly encouraged to create Case Plan Family Assessments in CWS/CMS for each child under DFCS supervision receiving court-ordered Family Maintenance, Family Reunification, and Permanency Planning services for whom a CWS/CMS Case Plan is created. 
  • For Case Plans Updates completed for dependent children under court supervision, the social worker is required to complete the Family Assessment Update section of the Case Plan.  See the section below Family Assessment Update in Case Plan Updates.
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How to Create the CWS/CMS Case Plan Family Assessment  

The Case Plan Family Assessment is a document separate from the Case Plan.  The Case Plan Family Assessment can be created in CWS/CMS after initial information is entered in the Initial Case Plan or Case Plan Update.

The social worker:

  • Reviews and completes or updates the information on the Client ID pages to assure that all information is recorded and current.
    • Some areas of the Case Plan and Family Assessment are populated from the Client Notebook.

  • Creates the Initial Case Plan or Case Plan Update.
    • The Contributing Factors and Strengths must be completed if a Case Plan Family Assessment is required.
  • In the Generate new Document dialog box, selects the Case Plan Family Assessment.
  • Completes narrative information under the headings on the Case Plan Family Assessment document which do not auto-populate.
  • When finished, saves and closes the document.
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Family Assessment Update in Case Plan Updates  

the Family Assessment Update is a section included in the Case Plan Update document.  When creating a Case Plan Update, a dialog box appears that asks, "Would you like to include the Family Assessment Update section on the report?"  If the"Yes" button is chosen, a Family Assessment Update section is included as part of the Case Plan.  The section lists three headings:

  • Significant Changes
  • Current Condition Of Child(ren) And Family
  • Family’s Perception Of Their Needs

If updating a case plan for a dependent child of the court, the social worker is required to choose "Yes" to the question of including the Family Assessment Update section and to respond to each of the three headings in the section in written narrative form.  The responses may be cut and pasted in the court report under corresponding headings.

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Family Assessment Guidelines  

Throughout the process, the focus is on ensuring the minimum sufficient level of care for children. A focus on minimum standards facilitates the establishment of decision-making rules. For example, rather than being concerned with a parent's drug use, the focus is on how the child is harmed by the behavior or might be harmed if the behavior continues. Given this framework, the social worker uses the following guidelines:

  • Assess all factors that influence the child's safety
    • Review the completed Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT) and note both risk and protective factors.
  • Be especially alert for serious unsafe factors
    • Included in the social worker's ongoing assessment is consideration of factors such as substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence.
    • Handbook 3 of the DFCS Online Policies and Procedures (OPP) lists guides to assist social workers in assessing various factors related to child maltreatment.

  • Be aware of safety factors that may interact in a dangerous manner to the detriment of the child
  • Examine the duration, severity and controllability of factors contributing to the child's unsafe situation
  • Assess family strengths and resources
  • Explore the family's financial resources, needs, and goals in the context of CalWORKs.
    • Review CalWORKs status factors, if applicable, that may impact the parent's ability to engage in service activities.
  • Examine the overall safety level of the child or adolescent within the context of family strengths and agency/community resources
  • Determine the child's degree of safety
  • Find out what the child says about his/her level of safety
  • Use behaviorally specific terms, not labels, to document the child's situation
  • Gather direct evidence, whenever possible
  • Use the assessment as the foundation for the case plan and subsequent modification of the plan
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Completing the Case Plan Family Assessment  

The Case Plan Family Assessment title includes whether the case plan is voluntary or court.  Parts of the Case Plan Family Assessment populate from CWS/CMS data.  Some of the headings require narrative description by the social worker.

  • Headings that populate from CWS/CMS data:
    • Family Assessment Participants
    • Case Plan Goal
    • Referral History
    • Referral History - Other Children
    • Previous Social Services

  • Assessment Section
    • Problems Requiring Intervention and Possible Causes

      This heading populates from descriptive items selected under the Contributing Factors tab.

  • Add information about the most recent allegations and any other problems or possible causes under this heading. Incorporate the information gathered from the Comprehensive Assessment Tool (CAT) without referencing the CAT itself.

    If a child is a dependent of the court and his or her parent is incarcerated, indicate where the parent is currently incarcerated, reason for incarceration, and length of sentence.  If Family Reunification services are being provided, document in detail any particular barrier, if any, to an incarcerated or institutionalized parent's access to court mandated services and the parent's ability to maintain contact with his or her child. 

    • Relevant Social, Cultural, and Physical Factors

    Record all child safety factors in the social, cultural, and physical environment which affect the child.  Describe in specific detail the health, safety, and general welfare of each child.  Include all psychological, mental health, behavioral, and educational issues.  Thoroughly discuss all reports from schools, including pre-school or Head Start, therapists, and other service providers. 

    • Child Health/Medical Care Needs

    Record all medical information.  Identify and include CHDP and dental services and the responsibilities/activities required of the social worker and others.

    • Statement of Family Strengths

    This heading populates from descriptive items selected under the Strengths tab.

    Add any other strengths or elaborate on the strengths as applicable.


    • Family's Perception of Its Needs

    Record statements from all family members and record statements verbatim, whenever possible.

    • Known Criminal History

    Clearly document the results of all CLETS and LiveScans. 

    • Child's Safety in the Home

      Discuss the child's safety in the home and the need, if any, for removal.  Reference whether or not the children are to remain home and under what conditions.  If a plan was made during a TDM, describe the plan without referencing the TDM.


    • Circumstances Surrounding Severe Physical Abuse of the Child

    For all cases that meet WIC § 300 (e), severe sexual or physical abuse, document all relevant information.  If applicable, describe why reunification services would be detrimental to the child.

    If this heading is not applicable to the case, enter "N/A."

    • Detrimental Impact of Not Ordering Reunification Services

      Document efforts made by the social worker to reunify the family, barriers encountered, and, if applicable, reasons why reunification would be detrimental to the safety and well-being of the child.

    If this heading is not applicable, enter "N/A."

    • Special Needs of a Child Who Is a Parent

    Document if a child is also a parent and all relevant data.

    If this heading is not applicable, enter "N/A."

    • Other

    Under this heading, document whether the family was offered participation in any specialized program, such as Wrap Around, Systems of Care, etc.  If the family participated in a specialized program, document services provided and the duration of the services.

    If the child has been assessed to have special needs, insert a heading, "Special Needs Child" and provide information as appropriate.

    • Evaluation

    Summarize the reasons that justify to proposed case plan services, using all relevant information described above.


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Division 31 Regulations  

Division 31 regulations requires that a Family Assessment include:

  • Child's name, birth date, sex, language, ethnicity, case number and case plan goal
  • Other Assessment Participants names, birth dates, sex, language, ethnicity and relationship to child
  • Referral history
  • Previous Social Services history
  • An Assessment Section that covers the following information:
    • The relevant social, cultural, and physical factors relating to the following:
      • The child
      • The child's parent(s)/guardian(s) or person(s) serving in that role
      • Other significant persons, including children and siblings, who are known to reside in
        the home
    • The apparent problems, and possible causes of those problems, which require intervention and
      the family strengths which could aid in problem resolution.
    • Whether the child may safely remain at home if preplacement preventive services are provided,
      and, if so, the specific services to be provided.
    • If the child is a parent, any special needs of the child with regard to his/her role as a parent.
    • If the child has been removed based on one of the findings pursuant to Welfare and Institutions
      Code Section 361.5(b), the circumstances relating to the finding and whether failure to order
      family reunification services would likely be detrimental to the child.
    • Any known social services previously offered and/or delivered to the child or family and the
      result of those services.
    • If family reunification services are recommended, relatives or others who could provide or assist
      with legal permanency - adoption, guardianship, or preparation for independence - should family
      reunification fail.
    • The need, if known, for any health/medical care.
    • The condition(s) which are met that allow a child under the age of six to be placed in a group
      home in accordance with Section 31-405.1(b).
    • The condition(s) which is met that allows a child to be placed in a community treatment facility
      in accordance with Section 31-406.
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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 4-1: Initial Case Plans
bullet2 OPP Chapter 4-2: Case Plan Updates
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