DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Intake
1-3 Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC): Taking a Report


1-3  Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC): Taking a Report
Reference Points
Confidentiality of Reporting Parties
Accepting All Reports
Taking a Child Abuse/Neglect Report
No Report Referrals
Creating a Referral
Entering and Deactivating a Safety Alert in CWS/CMS
Entering and Deactivating Safety Alerts in the CWS/CMS Client Notebook
Allegation Types
Requests for Emergency Medical Orders
Other References

Reference Points
Effective Date: 1/8/08
Last Updated: 5/7/10
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Penal Code (PC) § 11167 and 11167.5
Popup Window Penal Code (PC) § 11165.9
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 300(b) and 369
Popup Window All County Letter (ACL) No. 07-52: The Use of Substantial Risk as an Allegation
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet SC 22 - not online
bullet Mandated Reporter and Others--non CWS/CMS - not online
 CWS/CMS Forms:
Bullet CAT - Response Determination Assessment Tool
Bullet Referral Management Section: Screener Narrative
Bullet Referral Management Section: Emergency Response Document
Bullet Client Management Section: Client Notebooks


The Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC or CAN Center) receives and screens referrals from mandated reporters, law enforcement, and the community regarding children who may be in danger of abuse or neglect. It is organized under the Early Intervention & Community Services Bureau of the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) at the 373 W. Julian St. Office. The CANC is staffed by thirteen social workers and one social work supervisor.

All reports of child abuse, neglect  or exploitation on new or existing cases are directed to the CANC hotline for initial assessment. The reports may be received telephonically, in writing or in-person. The CANC also provides brief consultation to the public on child abuse issues and referrals, and, when appropriate, to resources other than DFCS. Although the CANC receives the majority of its referrals from agencies and persons outside of DFCS, any employee of DFCS who, within the scope of his/her employment, observes or receives a report of abuse, neglect, caregiver absence/incapacity or exploitation from a source other than the CANC, shall contact the CANC to make a referral.

CANC Screening social workers are on duty from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. - 7 days a week, including holidays.  The After-Hours coordinator receives referrals and assigns a social worker to respond, if necessary, on referrals received between 10:00 p.m. - 7 a.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays.

CANC Hotline:(408) 299-2071

South County:(408) 683-0601

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Confidentiality of Reporting Party   The Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) protects the referent's confidentiality by law and does not disclose the source of any reported information to family members or any member of the public. There are circumstances under which the referent's identity may be disclosed to law enforcement and other specified persons, such as the child's attorney and County Counsel, in the event of a child welfare services or criminal investigation (Penal Code(PC) § 11167 and 11167.5). Screening social workers explain that non-mandated reporters may make anonymous reports; however, a parent may guess the referent's identity in the event that the matter is investigated, especially if the referent is the only person who has the reported information.
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Accepting All Reports  

The policy of the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) is that all callers to the CANC, including both mandated reporters and other individuals, shall have the information regarding their suspected child abuse or neglect report received and accepted by the Screening social worker.  Under no circumstances does the Screening social worker discourage or in any way prevent the caller from making a report.  The Screening social worker is responsible for obtaining as much information as possible regarding the alleged abuse or neglect, the identifying information on the child(ren) and family and the information on the reporter.

This policy is underpinned by  Penal Code (PC) § 11165.9 , which states, in pertinent part:

"Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made by mandated reporters to any police department or sheriff's department, not including a school district police or security department, county probation department, if designated by the county to receive mandated reports, or the county welfare department. Any of those agencies shall accept a report of suspected child abuse or neglect whether offered by a mandated reporter or another person, or referred by another agency, even if the agency to whom the report is being made lacks subject matter or geographical jurisdiction to investigate the reported case, unless the agency can immediately electronically transfer the call to an agency with proper jurisdiction. "

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Taking a Child Abuse/Neglect Report  

In taking a child abuse/neglect report, the Screening social worker:

  • Accepts all reports called in to the CANC. 
  • Takes notes on the SC 22 (Child Abuse and Neglect Referral) or pages 1 and 2 of the CAT Response Determination tool.
  • Completes pages 3 and 4 of the CAT Response Determination tool as part of information gathering in taking the report.
  • Elicits any other relevant information to determine whether a response is required and how quickly the response needs to be made.
    • Do not promise absolute confidentiality to callers, except as required by law.

  • Determines:
    • The basis for the allegation(s).
      • How does the referent know about the problem? Why is he/she reporting this now?
    • If the report meets the legal definition of child abuse or neglect.
    • See Allegation Types in the section below.

  • Reviews possible child welfare services history on the family through a Client Search on CWS/CMS (this includes each identified family member and/or member of the household, including any other name under which the individual may be known).
    • Determine if the referral should follow the Sibling Protocol, if there is a connected case.
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No Report Referrals   No Report referrals are those referrals that:
  • Do not meet the definition of child abuse or neglect or
  • Cannot be entered into CWS/CMS, e.g. the child's name is unknown.

Social workers consult their supervisors regarding required documentation of these reports.

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Creating a Referral  

To create a referral on CWS/CMS, the Screening social worker:

  • Opens a New Referral under Client Services application.
    • Date and time of the referrals is the time of the call to the call to DFCS by the reporting party.
  • Creates or updates a Client Notebook for each child and each parent who are part of the referral.
    • Complete, at a minimum, data in all yellow and periwinkle fields for all:

      Adult members of the household

      Absent parents

      Children in the family, including, if appropriate and available, the name and address of the school

      • Identified perpetrator

    • Notify the social work supervisor of any Safety Alert information that pertains to any of the clients.
      • The social work supervisor has authority to enter Safety Alert information in the Client Notebook page. (See the section below.)
      • The Screening social worker continues to have the option of entering information in the Screener Alerts box on the ID page.

    • For the perpetrator, under Drug/Mental Health Issues Affecting the Client, indicate Yes or No for each category: Drug Use, Alcohol Use, and Mental Health Issues.
      • If there is drug use, choose the drug used in the drop down Drug category.
      • If the identified perpetrator is a parent with drug/alcohol or mental health issues and the referral is promoted to case, the Intervention Reason on the ID page of the case will include:  Parent Alcohol or Drug Use, or Parent Mental Health issues. 

  • Completes the Screener Narrative to include the factors to be identified under the CDSS Division 31 regulations ER Protocol. 
    • Never include the name of the reporting party in the Screener Narrative.

  • Cross reports, if the allegations are cross-reportable to:
    • Law enforcement on reports of physical abuse, sexual abuse and severe neglect, for all 10-Day Response referrals and document the cross report in CWS/CMS.
    • DFCS Investigating Licensing SW those referrals on out-of-home foster care abuse or neglect.
    • Community Care Licensing (CCL) those referrals on out-of-home group homes or Community Care Facilities (CCFs).
      • Log the referral in the Referral Binder located in the CANC area.

  • Opens the CAT- Response Determination (RD) Tool in CWS/CMS.
  • Completes pages 3 and 4 of the online CAT RD tool.

  • Determines whether the referral meets the criteria for involvement by child welfare services based on an initial assessment of the allegations.
    • See guidelines in Classification of Allegations.
  • Determines jurisdiction of a referral according to zip code of the parents' residence.
    • If jurisdiction for a referral appears to be outside of Santa Clara County, the screener takes the report and makes a referral to the county with jurisdiction.

  • Prioritizes the type of response as either:
    • Immediate Response
      • Optimum 2 hour response and not more than 24 hours from the time of the report.
      • Time frame for Joint Response with law enforcement is 30 minutes.

    • 10-Day Response
      • Respond as soon as possible and not more than 10 days from the date of the report.
    • Evaluate Out
      • Evaluating-out a referral involves the creation of a referral in CWS/CMS and no DFCS follow-up.
      • Supervisory approval is required.
      • Supervisor and SSPM approval is required to evaluate-out referrals on children in out-of-home care.

  • Prints out the Screener Narrative.
  • Prints out pages 3 and 4 of the CAT RD tool.
  • Attaches together:
    • The SC 22 or pages 1 and 2 of the handwritten CAT RD tool
    • Screener Narrative

  • Forwards the referral (SC 22, CAT RD tool and Screener Narrative) to ER clerical for further Search and Merge functions and completion of the Emergency Response document in CWS/CMS.
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Entering and Deactivating Safety Alerts in the CWS/CMS Client Notebook  

Safety Alerts may be entered in the Client Notebook in CWS/CMS under Safety Alert Information.  Only supervisors have the authority to create a Safety Alert.  Once notified of a concern by a social worker, the supervisor assesses the appropriateness of creating a Safety Alert, which is specific to the client.  Reasons for creating a Safety Alert, which appear in a drop down menu, include:

  • Dangerous animal on premises
  • Dangerous environment
  • Firearms in the home
  • Gang affiliation or gang activity
  • Hostile, aggressive client
  • Remote or isolated location
  • Severe mental health status
  • Threat or assault on staff member
  • Other

Safety Alerts display on the following CWS/CMS pages in the application:

  • Search Results
  • Client Abstract
  • Referral ID Page
  • Client ID

Safety Alerts:

  • May be deactivated, even if was created by another county.
  • Will be maintained in a history format in the application, even if deactivated.
  • Will NOT print out on any documents.
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Allegation Types  

There are  nine types of allegations listed in CWS/CMS which are:

  • At Risk, sibling abused
  • Caretaker absence/incapacity
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Exploitation
  • General Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Severe Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse

The Screening social worker chooses the allegation type which most closely corresponds to the information in the referral. 


Substantial Risk

CWS/CMS does not provide allegation type "Substantial Risk" as an option for the Screening social worker.  Substantial risk is only used as an allegation type after the completion of an investigation and only for purposes of providing voluntary services. 

It should not be used as:

  • A substitute for an at-risk, sibling abused allegation;
  • A substitute for a caretaker absence/incapacity;
  • An initial or secondary allegation in a referral; or
  • A reason to remove a child or youth for placement in out-of-home care.


At-Risk, Sibling Abused

The at-risk, sibling abused allegation is used when a report has been made about a child alleging abuse and/or neglect, and the child's sibling(s) are also at-risk of abuse and/or neglect.


Caretaker Absence/Incapacity

The caretaker absence/incapacity allegation is used when a child has no parent or guardian capable of providing appropriate provisions for care. This applies in cases, for example, where the parent or guardian has been incarcerated or institutionalized without having made any provision for care of the child(ren) or in cases where the parents' or guardians' whereabouts is unknown at the time of the report, and there is no indication that the parents or guardians intend to return.
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Requests for Emergency Medical Orders  

Occasionally, the Emergency Response (ER) SW or the After-Hours SWC receives a call from a hospital administrator or physician, indicating that a minor child in his/her facility is an acute case, and the parents refuse to authorize the necessary medical treatment. The Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) initiates Juvenile Court action that allows the child to receive the required treatment, under authority of Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 300(b) and 369.  Emergency Medical Orders procedures are followed.

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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT- Response Determination Tool
MS Word How to Find the CAT Response Determination Tool in CWS/CMS
bullet2 OPP Chapter 8.1: Cross Reporting to Local Law Enforcement
bullet2 OPP Chapter 13-6: Emergency Medical Orders
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