DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 18: Financial Support Systems
18-2 Child Support Referral Determinations
Financial Support Systems
18-2  Child Support Referral Determinations
Reference Points
Overview
Child Support Non-Referrals and Compromises
Who Must Be Considered for a Referral
When Must the Determination Be Made
Best Interest of the Child Criteria
Social Worker Action
Completing the CW51 County Use Only Section
Notifying Parents
CWS/CMS Documentation
Court Report Language
Redeterminations
How A Parent Requests a Compromise


Reference Points
Effective Date: 3/1/08
Last Updated: 5/1/09
 Legal Basis:
PDF All County Letter No. 05-37: Changes to Child Welfare and Eligibility Regulation Requirements Regarding Child Support Referrals
Popup Window Family Code § 3901
Popup Window Family Code § 17550 and 17552)
Popup Window California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-206.4
Popup Window CDSS MPP Division 31-503
Popup Window CDSS MPP Division 45-201.312(b)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
PDF Child Support--Good Cause Claim for Noncooperation (CW51)
MS Word Child Support Determination – Letter of Notification (SCZ2)
 
PDF Compromise of Arrearages Information Sheet (CS 4476)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Services Management Section: Contact Notebook


Overview  

All parents are required by law to contribute to the support of their children. This requirement continues if the child is placed outside of the home, either voluntarily or by court order.  When a child placed outside of the home receives financial aid, reimbursement for state or federal financial assistance is collected from the parents by the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).

Federal regulations had required that all parents of children in out-of-home care be referred to the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) except in cases of good cause.  In 2002, regulations developed under AB1449 were implemented to allow the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) to compromise or waive child support arrearages and interest owed by parents for reimbursement of certain public assistance payments paid for a child placed in foster care or with a relative caretaker or guardian.  To further the intent of AB1449 in removing the financial impediment that payments on arrearages and interest may present to low income households, a section was added to the Family Code (17552) allowing social workers to make determinations as to whether or not it would be in the child's best interest to initiate a referral to LSCA.

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Child Support Non-Referrals and Compromises

 
  • Non-Referral

A non-referral is the term used when a social worker determines that at referring the parents for child support enforcement is not in the child's best interest.

 

  • Compromise

A compromise is the term used when an agreement is reached between the parent and local child support agency to reduce or waive the court ordered child support debt which accrued during the time the child was separated from or was considered deserted by the child’s parent(s) that resulted in aid being granted when, subsequently, the child was returned to the parent. 

 

Compromise
Non-referral
Initiated by the parent Initiated by the social worker
To request a waiver on payments that have accumulated To stop the accumulation of payments
After a child is returned home after being in out-of-home care

At the time the child is first placed in out-of-home care.

  • A new determination is made in the event that the child reenters foster care.
Based on the criteria established by the local child support agency. Based on social worker's determination of best interest of the child.
The aid may have been in the form of CalWORKs, Foster Care, or Kin-GAP. Aid is paid to support the child, but parent is not held responsible for payment, unless reunification is not successful.
An existing child support case has been established. No existing child support case related to the child's current foster care  placement.

Eligibility worker is to inform the parent of opportunity to apply for compromise.

  • An informing flyer “Compromise of Arrearages Information Sheet” (CS 4476) developed by LCSA is available in supply to be given to a client.
Social worker is responsible for discussing the determination with the parent and noticing them if determination is made to refer the parent for child support and to tell them about grievance procedure.
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Who Must Be Considered for a Referral  

The best interest determination must be conducted for all children receiving foster care funds, regardless of which service program under which they are receiving services.  A determination must be made for each parent, including alleged fathers.

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When Must the Determination Be Made  

The child support referral determination and submission of the CW51 form to the eligibility worker must be made by the DI social worker within ten calendar days of receiving the referral assignment.  Failure to promptly notify the eligibility worker results in an automatic referral of all parents on the case to the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) by the eligibility worker.

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Best Interest of the Child Criteria  

The social worker makes a determination as to whether it is in the child's best interest to refer each child's parent(s) to the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA)for repayment of foster care funds.  In making the determination, the social worker considers whether the payment of support by each parent will pose a barrier to the proposed reunification, in that the payment of support will compromise:

  • The parent's ability to meet the requirements of the parent's reunification plan.
  • The parent's current or future ability to meet the financial needs of the child.
  • The parent's ability to meet the needs of other children in the household who may be at the risk of removal.

 

In considering the best interest of the child, the social worker evaluates each case on an individual basis and takes into consideration the circumstances of the family (CDSS MPP 31-503), which may include:

  • The parent's employment status
  • Housing status
  • The impact on other children who may be at the risk of removal
  • Availability of community-based services
  • Effort to reunify
  • Whether parental rights have been terminated
  • Connection with CalWORKs or other public assistance programs.

 

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Social Worker Action  

A Good Cause claim is completed for each parent in the case.  For example, if the case includes a mother, presumed father, and alleged father, then three (3) CW51 forms are completed.

 

If.. then the social worker..

The determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to refer the case to child support

(i.e. parent will not be referred for child support)
  • Completes state form Child Support – Good Cause Claim for Noncooperation (CW 51) for each parent for whom a referral will not be made.
    • Complete the information In the upper right corner under County Use Only.
    • Under the area in the center of the form marked Claim Determination – County Use Only, check the box “The child welfare department has determined that it is not in the child’s best interest to refer the case to child support.
    • Check at least one of the three boxes which indicate the condition(s) for which a barrier would be posed, if a referral were made. 
  • Signs the CW51.
  • Dates the form with the date it is completed.
  • Makes a copy.
  • (For DI social worker) Places the original in the CW51 basket at DI clerical.
    • Continuing social workers forward the CW51 to the eligibility worker.
  • Files the copy in the case file.
  • Does not complete a Letter of Notification.
  • Documents in CWS/CMS Contact Notes:
    • That the determination was made and
    • The basis on which the determination was made.
 

The determination is made that it is not contrary to the child’s best interest to refer the parent to child support

(i.e. the parent will be referred for child support)
  • Follows signature and filing instructions in the section above.
  • Sends a notification to the parent for whom the determination to refer to child support is made, informing the parent of grievance procedures. (See attached Letter of Notification)
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Completing the CW51 County Use Only Section  

To complete the upper right corner area of the form marked County Use Only write in under:

  • Case Name – The mother’s name
  • Case Number - The DFCS case number
  • Noncustodial Parent/Alleged Father - The name of the parent for whom the determination is being made.
    • A determination must be made for each parent, including alleged fathers.
  • Name of Children – The names of the children who have been or are in foster care (during the current episode) and are connected to the parents for whom the determination is being made.

 

Leave blank:

  • Date of Application
  • Caretaker Relative
  • Relationship to Children

Click here for completed sample document.

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Notifying Parents  

When the social worker makes a determination that it is not contrary to the best interest of the child to refer the child's case to the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA), the social worker sends a notice to the parent that the parent has a right to file a grievance.  The parent must appeal the determination in writing within 5 working days of receiving the notification in order to have a right to the grievance process.

 

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CWS/CMS

Documentation

 

In the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook, the child support referral determination may be documented as follows:

Field
Drop Down Choice
On Behalf of Child
Method Written
Status Completed
Contact Purpose Deliver Service to Client
Participant Other
Contact Party Type Staff Person/Staff Person
Case Management/Referrals CM- Other

Division 31 regulations require the social worker to document in the child’s case file the determination of whether it is in the best interest of the child to refer the child’s case to the local child support agency and the basis for the determination.

(Example):  A child Support referral determination made for (names of parents and alleged fathers) and none were referred to the Local Child Support Agency, because it would present a barrier to their completion of their reunification case plans.
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Court Report Language  

When documenting the determination in the court report, the Social Worker:

  • Creates a heading titled “Referral to Child Support Services” after the Reasonable Efforts section towards the end of the report.
  • Completes the Referral to Child Support Services section using the following language (choose the language applicable to each parent):
    • "Pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code § 17552, the undersigned social worker has determined that it is in the child's best interest to not make a referral to the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) regarding [name(s) of parents(s)] for reimbursement of foster care costs."

    or

    • "Pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code § 17552, the undersigned social worker has determined that it is in the child's best interest to make a referral to the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) regarding [name(s) of parents(s)] for reimbursement of foster care costs, and the undersigned social worker has notified DCSS accordingly."
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Redeterminations  

Social workers are required to make a redetermination regarding a referral to the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) at three points:

  • If the court orders no reunification services (by-pass);
  • If reunification services are terminated by the court; or
  • Any time the social worker determines that it is no longer contrary to the child's best interest to have his/her case referred to the local child support agency.
    • The point of this determination is usually at the time it is established that the parent has not successfully reunified with the child.

If, at the time of the redetermination, the social worker determines that..

 

then the social worker..

It continues to be in the child’s best interest not to refer to child support

(i.e., the parent will not be referred for child support)

 

  • Documents the redetermination in a CWS/CMS contact note.
  • Takes no further action.

 

It is no longer contrary to the child’s best interest to refer to child support

(i.e., the parent will be referred for child support)

  • Completes the CW51 to inform the Eligibility Worker to refer the child’s case to the LCSA.
  • Notifies the parent of the referral by sending the Letter of Notification.
  • Documents the redetermination in a CWS/CMS contact note.
 
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How A Parent Requests a Compromise  

The office of the County of Santa Clara Department of Child Support Services is located at 2851 Junction Avenue in San Jose. The cross street is Plumeria or Zanker Road.  The office is opened Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Any parent who was referred to the local child support agency (LCSA) for repayment of foster care assistance for their child and who has reunified with their child may apply for a compromise of child support arrearages by going to the LCSA office and completing an application.

The LCSA determines whether the parent is eligible for a compromise.  This includes a consultation with the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS).  When a parent requests a compromise, the LCSA contacts DFCS through an identified liaison at the Department who reviews the case and notifies the LSCA of the outcome of reunification services.

Public assistance debt owed to the State by the parent for aid granted to the child while the child was in out-of-home care can be waived or reduced if:

  • The child who was removed from the parents' home has been returned to the care of the parent(s) and is residing with the parent(s) pursuant to a court order.

    • If the parents were separated at the time of the child's removal, the criteria is that the child is returned to the parent with whom the child was residing at the time of removal.
  • The child had been adjudged a dependent of the court.
  • The child received public assistance (AFDC-FC or CalWORKS or KinGAP) while living in out-of-home placement. 
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