DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 13: Cross Program Protocols
13-9  Sibling Protocol
Cross Program Protocols
13-9  Sibling Protocol
Reference Points
Overview
When Is The Sibling Protocol Followed
Closed Cases
When a Parent Moves to Another County or State
Role of a Social Worker Who Becomes Aware of a Previously Unidentified Sibling
Role of a Social Worker Who Discovers that the Birth Mother of a Dependent Child is Pregnant
CANC Social Worker's Role for Referrals That Have Not Been Previously Staffed
CANC Social Worker's Role for Referrals That Have Been Previously Staffed
Emergency Response (ER) Clerical
ER Social Worker's Role
ER Social Work Supervisor's Role
Joint Case Staffing
Staffing Outcomes
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 4/1/06
Last Updated: 3/15/09
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 305
Popup Window WIC § 300 (b) and ( g)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word

Referral for Child of Parent with Previous Dependency History

(SCZ 120e)

MS Word Out of Custody Referral (SCZ999)
MS Word Declaration of Reasonable Efforts (SC 1554)
bullet2 Suspected Child Abuse Report (SS8572) - also online in CWS/CMS
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet2 Referral Management Section: Screener Narrative/Investigation Narrative
MS Word

CAT - Emergency Response Tool



Overview  

There are situations when the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) becomes aware of a child having been born or discovers a child in a family, when sibling(s) or half-siblings of that child are currently dependents of the court or had previously been dependents and were not reunified with the parent(s).

Whenever this situation arises, it is important that the Department assesses whether the newborn or newly discovered sibling or half-sibling needs the protection of the Juvenile Court.  Input from all DFCS social workers who are or have been involved with the family is crucial to ensure that as much information as possible is gathered about the family. 

The DFCS principles behind the sibling protocol are:

  • Joint decision making
  • Consistent services to families
  • Respectful communication and mutual support among staff
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When Is The Sibling Protocol Followed  

The Sibling Protocol is to be followed in all cases whenever a DFCS social worker becomes aware:

  • Of a previously unidentified sibling or half-sibling of a child who is a dependent of the court or who had been a dependent of the court and had not been reunified with the parent(s).
    • This applies when there is a common father of siblings as well as when there is a common mother.

  • Of a newborn whose sibling or half-sibling is currently a dependent of the court or who had been a dependent of the court and had not been reunified with the parent(s).
    • This applies when there is a common father of siblings as well as when there is a common mother.

  • That the mother of a dependent child or prior dependent child who had not been reunified with the parent(s) is pregnant.
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Closed Cases  

The Sibling Protocol applies to those closed cases in which a child who had been a prior dependent of the court had not been successfully reunified with the parent(s).  This would apply in those cases in which the case was closed with guardianship or adoption orders or closed after the dependent child was placed with a non-offending parent.

The sibling protocol does not apply to closed cases in which the parent had successfully reunified with his/her child.  However, if the worker has reason to believe that there is any risk to the child, mandated reporting requirements still apply.

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If a Parent Moves to Another County or State   If a parent has moved out of Santa Clara County at the time of the child's birth and the social worker becomes aware of previously unidentified sibling or the birth of a new sibling, the social worker calls the child abuse hotline in the parent's current county of residence or state and makes a referral on the sibling.
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Role of Referring Social Worker Who Becomes Aware of a Previously Unidentified

Sibling

 

Whenever a DFCS social worker learns of a newborn child or previously unidentified child in a family with a child who is currently a dependent of the court or who had been a dependent of the court and was not reunified with the parent(s), the social worker:

  • Notifies the the social work supervisor that a Sibling Protocol referral will be made.
  • Immediately completes the form Referral for Child of Parent with Previous Dependency History (SCZ 120e).
    • If relevant to the case, attach any:
      • Psychological evaluations
      • Copies of sustained petitions on siblings/half-siblings
      • Court decisions
  • Makes a referral to the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC).
    • Social worker gives a brief case history and identifies concerns.
    • Deliver the Referral for Child of Parent with Previous Dependency History (SCZ 120e) (with attachments, if applicable) to the CANC social worker, so that it can be attached to the ER referral document.
     
  • Submits the Suspected Child Abuse Report (SS8572) within 36 hours in order to fulfill the mandatory reporting requirements.

  • Leaves the family case file on top of his/her desk for review by the ER social worker assigned to the referral, if there is an open case on a sibling.
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Role of Referring Social Worker Who Discovers that the Birth Mother of a Dependent Child is Pregnant  

If a mother of a dependent child is pregnant and due to give birth within 30 days, the social worker for the dependent child must schedule a joint case staffing prior to the new sibling/half-sibling's birth. 

 

At the time of the birth of the newborn, the social worker of the dependent sibling:

  • Completes a Referral for Child of Parent with Previous Dependency History (SCZ 120e).
    • If relevant to the case, attach any:
      • Psychological evaluations
      • Copies of sustained petitions on siblings/half-siblings
      • Court decisions

  • Makes a referral to the CANC, informing the Screening social worker that a joint case staffing has been conducted and what the outcome of the staffing was.
    • Deliver the Referral for Child of Parent with Previous Dependency History (SCZ 120e) (with attachments, if applicable) to the CANC at the time the referral is made, so that it can be attached to the ER referral document.

  • Submits the Suspected Child Abuse Report (SS8572) within 36 hours in order to fulfill the mandatory reporting requirements.

If . . Then ..

At the Joint Staffing, it was determined that

a Protective Custody Warrant would be needed at the time of the newborn's birth

When the baby is born, the Continuing social worker in conjunction with the Continuing Petition Specialist is responsible for:
  • Obtaining a protective custody warrant and
  • Taking the newborn into temporary custody, if the warrant is issued.
    • If the protective custody warrant is denied by the court, immediately contact the DI Control Clerk.

It is assessed, at the time of the birth of the newborn, that the newborn is at immediate risk* (WIC § 305) and falls under WIC § 300 (b) and/or (g)

* The child has immediate need for medical care, or

is in immediate danger of physical or sexual abuse,

or the physical environment poses an immediate threat

to the child's health or safety.

The Continuing social worker immediately:

  • Places the newborn child in temporary custody without obtaining the PC Warrant.
    • Most commonly requires law enforcement assistance.


Note:  If an assessment is made at the Joint Case staffing that the newborn will likely need to be placed in temporary custody and if there is a prospective relative with whom the newborn may be placed, the social worker begins the relative home assessment as soon as possible, so that the relative home is approved by the time of the birth of the newborn.
     
     
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CANC Social Worker's Role for Referrals That Have Not Been Previously Staffed  

When the CANC social worker receives a Sibling Protocol report or identifies a sibling protocol case through case review or record search, the following steps are taken:

  • For Sibling Protocol referrals that have not been staffed prior to the birth of the sibling or discovery of a previously unidentified sibling

The CANC social worker:

    • Writes "Sibling Protocol":
      • On the top margin of the SC22.
      • On the Screener Narrative.
    •  
    • Assigns the case, if it is determined to be an IR priority.
     
    • Submits the referral document to clerical for assignment to an ER Unit, if it is determined to be a 10-Day Response priority.
     
    • Delivers a copy of the referral to the dependent sibling's social worker.
     
    • Phones and/or emails the dependent sibling's social worker and the worker's supervisor to notify them of the delivery of the copy of the referral.
      • Advise the worker and worker's supervisor that ER will be conducting the referral assessment.
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CANC Social Worker's Role for Referrals That Have Been Previously Staffed   When the CANC social worker receives a Sibling Protocol report on a sibling protocol case, the following steps are taken:
  • For Sibling Protocol referrals that have been staffed prior to the birth of the sibling:
If the recommendation from the staffing is that..

 

then the Screening social worker..

An ER social worker be assigned for further assessment of the referral Follows the same procedures for cases that have not been staffed.
A protective custody warrant be issued for removal of the child
  • Writes "Sibling Protocol" on the top margin of the SC22.

 

  • Writes "Sibling Protocol to be followed" on the Screener Narrative.
    • Do not refer to the Joint Case Staffing in the Narrative due to Attorney-Client privilege.

 

  • Assigns the referral to the child's primary social worker.

 

  • Assigns secondary status to the Intake Detention Control Clerk (ER clerical) in-box in CWS/CMS as secondary assignment.

 

  • Writes "Sibling Protocol" in the Responsibility Description on the Assignment page, under the secondary assignment.
An out-of-custody petition be filed on behalf of the newborn
  • Writes "Sibling Protocol" on the top margin of the SC22.

 

  • Writes "Sibling Protocol to be followed" on the Screener Narrative.
    • Do not refer to the Joint Case Staffing in the Narrative due to Attorney-Client privilege.

 

  • Assigns the referral to the Dependent Intake Control Clerk (DICC) in-box in CWS/CMS for assignment to a Dependent Intake social worker.

 

  • Writes "Sibling Protocol" in the Responsibility Description on the Assignment page.
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ER Clerical  
  • Processes the Sibling Protocol referral using regular procedures.
  • Makes a copy of the Sibling Protocol referral for the ER unit supervisor.
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ER Social Worker's Role  

Upon being assigned a sibling protocol referral, the ER social worker:

  • Undertakes an assessment of the newborn or newly discovered sibling/half-sibling.
    • Confer with the supervising social worker of the sibling's case, if time allows.
    • Consult with the referring worker's supervisor, if the worker is not available.
    • Review the case file, if worker nor supervisor are available,
    • Contact County Counsel Petition Review Specialist for pertinent information, if none of the above are available.

  • Reviews:
    • The legal history of the sibling's case.
    • Any current recommendations pending before the juvenile court concerning the family.
    •  
  • Visits the child to assess safety, risk and parents' protective capacity:
    • Use the CAT - Emergency Response Tool.
    • Consider:
      • Any services that can be offered to the family.
      • What is different now than in the past.
      • What the Department might do differently this time.


    If..

    Then the ER/IR Social worker..

    The ER/IR social worker determines that the child is at immediate risk of abuse or neglect
    • Contacts law enforcement to have the child placed into temporary custody.
    • Closes the referral and transfers the case to DI for further assessment.
    The child is not immediately removed
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ER Social Work Supervisor  

The ER social work supervisor:

  • Tracks Sibling Protocol referrals assigned to his/her worker.
  • Assures that a staffing is scheduled to assess the need for further DFCS involvement, if the child is not removed from the home.
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Joint Case Staffing  

A Joint Case Staffing (Chapter 13-1) is scheduled on Sibling Protocol or potential Sibling Protocol referrals when:

  • There is a current dependency case on a sibling or there was a previous dependency case on a sibling which is closed.
  • A mother is pregnant and due to give birth within 30 days.
  • A newborn or newly discovered sibling/half-sibling is not immediately removed from the home after an assessment.
  • A sibling is taken into temporary custody on a protective custody warrant, and the DI social worker, after further assessment, wishes to staff the case.


In scheduling the Joint Case Staffing, the social worker:

  • Completes the Out of Custody Referral (SCZ999).
  • Makes an effort to notify all DFCS social workers (or the social work supervisor) who previously supervised the family's case of the staffing, and those workers shall attend. 
  • Prepares to discuss (not necessary to make copies of documents) with the staffing members the following information for their consideration In making their decision:
    • Any sustained petitions regarding the parents.
    • The case history, including any services already provided by the Department.
    • The completed risk and safety assessment tools.
      • CAT or, for older cases, the SDM and Safety Assessment.
    • Any current recommendations the Department has made regarding the parents.
    • The basis for the Department's making a recommendation for the new sibling that differs from the Department's position on the current dependent, if applicable.

 

A copy of the staffing outcome is given to the referring social worker and his/her social work supervisor.

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Staffing Outcomes  

A copy of the staffing outcome is given to the referring social worker and his/her social work supervisor.

The possible outcomes of the staffing are:

  • Close the referral.
  • Make a referral to Emergency Response for further investigation.
  • Offer voluntary services for the child who is the subject of the referral.

  • File an out-of-custody petition.
    • The referral is assigned from ER to the DI Control Clerk within 24 hours of the decision to file an out-of-custody petition
    • The referral is then assigned to a DI social worker who writes and files the petition and assumes the case.

  • Request issuance of a Protective Custody Warrant.
    • The Continuing social worker in conjunction with the Continuing Petition Specialist shall be responsible for processing the protective custody warrant and taking the sibling or half-sibling into protective custody.
      • May require law enforcement assistance.
    • If the court denies the warrant, immediately notify the DI Control Clerk who will notify a DI social work supervisor.
      • A DI social worker will be assigned to the referral to file an out-of-custody petition.
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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 13-1: Joint Case Staffing
bullet2 OPP Chapter 13-5: Protective Custody Warrant
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