DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 6: Out of Home Placement and Services
6-10  Incident Reports Reported by Foster Parents
Out of Home Placement and Services
6-10  Incident Reports Reported by Foster Parents
Reference Points
Overview
DFCS Policy
Operational Impact
Incident Reports vs. Complaints
When Must a Foster Parent Report an Incident
Incident Reporting Forms
Incident Report of a Serious Nature or Multiple Reports - Procedures
When a Licensing Social Worker Receives an Incident Report from a Foster Parent
When a Child's Social Worker Receives an Incident Report from a Foster Parent
Role of the Investigating Licensing Social Worker


Reference Points
Effective Date: 03/01/06
Last Updated: 07/29/05
 Legal Basis:
PDF California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5, Article 3
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Unusual Incident/Injury Report (LIC624)- not online
bullet SOC 909 - not online


Overview  

State foster home licensing regulations require licensed foster parents to report certain incidents that affect the dependent children for whom they are caring or the general operation of the foster home. The intent of this requirement is to protect both the children in care and the foster parent. In reporting the incident, the foster parent is given an opportunity to explain how or why the incident occurred and what action is being taken as a result of the incident to prevent further incidents and protect the children in the home.

The Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) is responsible for assuring that children who have been placed by the Department in foster family homes are provided adequate care and supervision. When an incident report is made by a foster parent to and DFCS staff, an assessment must be made as to the seriousness of the incident and the steps that must be taken to adequately address the impact on the children in the care of the foster parent.

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DFCS Policy   It is DFCS policy to provide safety and placement stability for children in out-of-home care. It is the role and responsibility of all DFCS staff to ensure that the interests and needs of DFCS-placed children are served to the highest level by ensuring that all standards and services, as detailed in Title 22 regulations are maintained in all out-of-home care placements.
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Operational Impact  
  • All serious incident reports made by foster parents shall be staffed and followed-up with an in-person investigation by the Investigating Licensing social worker (IL SW).
  • Incidents of a serious nature and multiple incidents in the same foster home are to be reported to the DFCS Director within 24 hours of receiving the report.
  • Any incident report by a foster parent that is assessed to involve child abuse or neglect or to place a child at risk of abuse or neglect shall be cross-reported to the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) hotline.
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Incident Reports vs. Complaints   Incident reports are those reports generated by a foster parent to a Licensing or Continuing SW regarding special incidents and information of a critical or emergency nature. Incidents reported by the foster parent are not to be recorded as complaints. Even though the reports may indicate a range of problems in the foster home and may require a special inquiry, evaluation and follow-up, the information is an admission by the foster home that the event did actually happen and thus, it is not suitable for investigation as a complaint allegation. However, DFCS policy is for the IL SW to make an inquiry into all serious incident reports for irregularities concerning facility licensing regulations. When an incident is reported, social worker(s) of the child(ren) who are in the foster home also make an assessment regarding the impact of the incident on the child(ren)’s care and safety, in collaboration with the IL SW.

A complaint is an allegation that any State Department of Social Service licensing regulation or law is being violated. The source of the information may be anyone, including a child, client, parent, guardian, conservator, authorized representative, relative, representative of a client, facility employee, neighbor, an agency using the facility and/or others in the community. The information may be given by a person who may not indicate that it is a complaint, but believes there is a problem. As long as the information raises reasonable questions about the care of the clients or the condition of the facility that could possibly be a violation of one or more licensing regulations, the Licensing SW and/or IL SW records the information as a complaint and follows procedures to investigate the complaint. (CCL Evaluator Manual 3-2010)
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When Must a Foster Parent Report an Incident  

Foster parents are required to report to the Department’s Licensing Unit and the child’s social worker occurrences involving serious injury to the child or that have an impact on the child’s care and supervision. The reports must be made to the Department's Licensing Unit as soon as possible and no later than the agency's next working day, during its normal business hours, by phone or fax. The caregiver is required to submit a written report within 7 days of the event.

The incidents that require reporting include but are not limited to:

  • Death of any child from any cause.
  • Suicide attempt by any child or household member.
  • Any injury or illness to any child which requires medical treatment.
  • Any unusual incident or child absence which threatens the physical or emotional health or safety of any child.
  • Child runs away.
  • Child is late returning from a visit with a parent/family.
  • Any suspected physical or psychological abuse of any child.
  • Communicable diseases as reported to the caregiver by a health professional.
  • Poisonings.
  • Catastrophes.
  • Fires or explosions which occur in or on the premises.
  • Child is taken into custody by law enforcement officials or stopped by police.
  • Child is expelled or reported truant from school.

When a foster parent reports any type of incident to a Licensing social worker, the Licensing social worker requests that the foster parent follow up with a written incident report.

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Incident Reporting Forms   Incidents are normally reported by the foster parent on the Unusual Incident/Injury Report (LIC624) or the Death Report (LIC624A). The LIC 624A is used only in the event of the death of a child. The incident report is to be completed by the foster parent and sent to the Licensing social worker.
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Incident Reports of a Serious Nature or Multiple Reports - Procedures  

Whenever an incident of a serious nature is reported by a foster parent or if the report constitutes multiple incidents in the same foster home, the following protocol is followed:

  • Immediately after receiving the report, the SW receiving the report notifies the:
    • Unit supervisor and bureau SSPM
    • Licensing social worker (if the incident is not reported directly to the Licensing social worker )
    • Investigating Licensing social worker
    • County Counsel
    • Child's attorney
       
  • Makes a referral to the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) for an out-of-home investigation by Emergency Response staff.
  • The CANC Screening social worker notifies the following parties by email of the report within 24 hours of receiving the report.
    • DFCS Director
    • DFCS Deputy Director
    • Placement Bureau SSPM
    • Placement Unit Social Work Supervisor
    • Licensing Social Work Supervisor
     
  • The Licensing social work supervisor follows procedures for incident reports which includes:
    • Arranging a staffing regarding the report.
    • Assigning the referral investigation to the Investigating Licensing social worker (IL SW).


  • The IL SW conducts an investigation.
    • If a referral has been made to the CANC as a result of the incident report, the IL SW collaborates with the ER SW on an out-of-home investigation.
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When the Licensing Social Worker Receives an Incident Report    

When the Licensing SW receives a verbal report from a foster parent regarding an incident in the foster home or a special circumstance or situation pertaining to a dependent child in the home, the Licensing social worker:

  1. Documents all information given by the foster parent on a SOC 909.
    • Incident Reports are to be filed in the Confidential section of the case file. They are not to be made available for public review.
     
  2. Reminds the foster parent to submit a written report on the LIC 624 or LIC 624A as soon as possible and no later than 7 days from the date of the occurrence of the incident.
  3.  
  4. Assesses whether there is or is reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect.
    • If the Licensing social worker assesses that there is a reasonable suspicion of child abuse/neglect, the Licensing SW must:
      • Make a report to the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) hotline, 299-2071
      • Submit a written Suspected Child Abuse Report to the CANC within 36 hours of the time the SW is aware of the occurrence of the incident.  

    Mandatory referrals to the CANC include reports involving:

    • Sexual abuse
    • Severe physical abuse
    • Suspicious circumstances regarding the death of a child
    • Lack of care and supervision which result in sexual abuse or severe physical abuse
    • Abuse that involves acts such as assault and/or battery, that if successful, would result in great bodily injury
    • Operation of an unlicensed home
    • Foster parents or other person in the home providing, selling or manufacturing illegal drugs
    • Actions by the foster parent or someone in the foster home that may result in felony offenses such as robbery or arson
    • General neglect
     
    • If it is determined that the incident must be reported to the CANC as a child abuse/neglect report, the investigation will be conducted by an Emergency Response (ER) social worker in collaboration with the IL SW as an out-of-home child abuse investigation.

  5. Note: Any incident report that is determined to be serious or that constitutes multiple incidents in the same foster home must be reported to the DFCS Director within 24 hours of receiving the report. Bureau SSPM's are responsible for notifying the Director. Therefore, it is important for the SW to notify the SWS and SSPM immediately after receiving an incident report of a serious nature or when there are multiple incidents in the same foster home.

  6. Notifies the social worker of each child in the foster home of the incident, if it involves an occurrence of a serious nature or impacts the other children placed in the home. 
     
  7. Places a hold on the foster home, pending the outcome of the investigation.
    • Investigation Holds must be approved by the SWS.
    • Request that the Placement Unit change the vacancy list on the G:drive to reflect the hold.
       
  8. Notifies the IL SW of the incident report and provides him/her with a copy of the SOC 909 documentation.
    • The IL SW will conduct an inquiry regarding every serious incident report.
     
  9. Immediately gives a copy of the SOC 909 documentation to the Licensing SWS, followed by a copy of the written Incident Report when received from the foster parent.  
     
  10. Schedules a staffing to discuss the incident, if it is an incident of a serious nature or it is one of multiple incidents in the same foster home. The staffing should include:
    • The Licensing SW
    • The child(ren)’s SW(s)
    • A member of the Resource Support Team
    • The IL SW
    • The Licensing SWS
     
  11. If the incident report does not require a child abuse/neglect report, files the Incident Report (LIC 624 or 624A) in the licensing case file.
    • Incidents that may not require a report to the CANC include those involving:
    • Physical abuse that involves acts such as assault and/or battery, shoving, pushing with no injuries or bruises.
    • Action by a foster parent or person in the home of misdemeanor offenses, including but not limited to, neglect or lack of supervision.
    • Physical or corporal punishment to a child defined as spanking (using the hand), lack of supervision that did not result in any abuse or injury, unsanitary conditions or other licensing regulatory violations.
     
  12. Files a copy of the IL SW's documentation of his investigation in the case file.
    • If the incident report did not rise to the level of a complaint, file the IL SW's report in a confidential folder in the case file.
            
    • If the incident report did rise to the level of a complaint and the allegations are assessed to be unfounded, file the IL SW's report in the confidential folder in the case file.
    • If the incident report did rise to the level of a complaint and the allegations are assessed to be inconclusive or substantiated, file the IL SW's report in the in the case file available for public review.
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When a Child's Social Worker Receives an Incident Report from a Foster Parent  

If a foster parent contacts a child’s social worker to report an incident, the social worker:

  1. Documents the information on a SOC 909.
    • Incident Reports are to be filed in the Confidential section of the case file. They are not to be made available for public review.
     
  2. Instructs the foster parent to contact his/her Licensing SW to make the report.
     
  3. Determines whether a referral must be made to the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) for an out-of-home investigation.
    • If the incident requires a referral to the CANC, the SW receiving the report immediately makes the referral to the CANC.
    • A written report must follow the referral within 36 hours of the time the SW is aware of the occurrence of the incident.
    • Out-of home investigations are conducted by an ER SW in collaboration with the IL SW.
     
  4. Immediately notifies the Licensing social worker and gives a copy of the incident report documentation to the Licensing social worker.
    • The licensing social worker contacts the foster parent and follows procedures for receiving an incident report, including:
    • Notifying the Investigating Licensing social worker
    • Arranging a staffing regarding the report, if the incident is of a serious nature or involves multiple referrals on the same home.
     
    Note: Any incident report that is determined to be serious or constitutes multiple incidents in the same foster home must be reported to the DFCS Director within 24 hours of receiving the report. The SSPM is responsible for notifying the Director. Therefore, it is important for the social worker to notify the SWS and SSPM immediately after receiving an incident report of a serious nature or when their are multiple incidents in the same foster home.

  5. Proceeds to make an assessment of the child to assure that the child is being adequately cared for, supervised and afforded his/her rights in the foster home.
       
    • The assessment is made by:

    a. Interviewing the child.

    b. Discussing the allegation(s) with the foster parent.

    c. Contacting collateral professionals involved with the child’s services.

    d. Consulting with other social workers who may have  children placed in the foster home.

    e. Making a visit to the foster home, if necessary.

    f. Notifying the IL SW  and Licensing SW of the outcome of the assessment.

If, after the in-person contact with the child, the SW finds or has reasonable suspicion that the child is being abused or neglected in the foster home, the social worker makes a referral to the CANC for an out-of-home investigation. Out-of home investigations are conducted by an ER SW in collaboration with the IL SW.

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Role of the Investigating Licensing Social Worker  

The role of the Investigating Licensing (IL) social worker is to investigate any allegations of violations of licensing regulatory requirements in licensed foster homes. The types of allegations investigated include child abuse, violations of personal rights that do not rise to the level of child abuse, and violations of other licensing regulatory requirements such as the condition of the home. The IL SW is not responsible for investigation relative or non-relative extended family member (NREFM) placements.

The IL social worker’s duties involve:

  • Investigation of any allegations of violations of licensing regulatory requirements in licensed foster homes.
    • The IL SW collaborates with the ER SW when a referral is received at the CANC regarding out-of-home abuse/neglect
  •  
  • Investigation of all incident reports of a serious nature or multiple reports in the same foster home.
  • Participation in incident report staffings.
  • Consultant to staff regarding incident reports.


In conducting an investigation of an incident report, the IL social worker:

  • Reviews:
    • Current placements in the foster home.
    • CHDP records for all children currently in the home
    • History of placements in the foster home.
    • CHDP records of previous placements.
     
  • Consults with County Counsel as needed.
  • Consults with the County’s State Community Care Licensing (CCL) liaison.
  • Makes an in-person visit to the foster home to assess the situation, as soon as possible and within 10 days of receiving the report.  
  • Determines whether a referral must be made to the CANC, as a result of the findings of the investigation.
    • Notify the Licensing SW anytime a CANC referral must be made.
  • Documents all CCL regulatory violations on a Facility Evaluation Report (LIC 809) with a plan of correction.


  • Gives a copy of the investigation documentation to the Licensing SW.


  • If the foster home is also a licensed day care, makes any necessary cross report to CCL.
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