DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

   <<< Return to OPP Table of Contents
Handbook 1: Intake
1-7.4 CANC: Referrals Involving Domestic Violence
1-7.4  CANC: Referrals Involving Domestic Violence
Reference Points
Questions Specific to Referrals Involving Domestic Violence
Prioritizing Referrals Involving Domestic Violence
When to Evaluate-Out a Referral Regarding Domestic Violence
Other References

Reference Points
Effective Date: 11/01/07
Last Updated: 2/19/2015
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Welfare and Institution Code § 16208
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Comprehensive Assessment Tool: Response Determination
bullet Referral Management Section: Screener Narrative


When a referral is received at the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC) that involves allegations of domestic violence, the Emergency Response Protocol is followed.  Additionally, further questioning should be pursued to complete as much information as possible about the situation to assist in the assessment.  See OPP Chapter 13-15: Assessment of Domestic Violence.

As with all referrals, the first decision in the screening process is whether a child safety threat exists because of child physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect or threats of harm.

Note:  The name of the reporting party or any identifying information about the reporting party should never be included in the Screener Narrative.


    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page
Questions Specific to a Referral Involving Domestic Violence Allegations  

If a telephone report is received at the CANC that includes allegations of domestic violence or, in taking a report, if the response is "Yes" to the CAT - Response Determination (RD) Tool, SAR Question # 11 ("Is there any violence in the home?"), the Screening social worker asks further questions in an attempt to learn more about the situation and prioritize the response.  The following questions are particularly critical.

  • Is there immediate danger due to domestic violence or emotional abuse?
    • Be specific. Ask about behaviors, such as, has anyone been pushed, shoved, and/or hit?  

NOTE: If there appears to be an immediate medical emergency, or if the child and/or victim are in imminent physical danger, the Screening social worker should advise the caller to call 911 or the Screening social worker should call 911.

  • Has the child been a witness to domestic violence?
    • Has the child been restrained or has the child intervened in an attempt to stop the assaultive behavior?
    • Does the child exhibit behaviors that may be related to the impact of the domestic violence, such as being fearful, acting aggressively toward the victim parent, or complaining of somatic ailments?
  • Are there weapons present (has anyone been threatened with a gun, knife)?


As much more information as the reporter is able and willing to provide regarding domestic violence is gathered by the Screening social worker.  Other questions important in assessing domestic violence that are asked as part of the CAT:

  • Does either partner or child require a medical evaluation?

SAR Question #5 of the CAT-RD Tool.

  • Is there a history or evidence of acute mental illness?
  • SAR Question #6 of the CAT - RD Tool.

    • If the alleged perpetrator is reporter to suffer from mental health issues, document this on the client's ID page in CWS/CMS in the field "Drug/Mental Health Issues Affecting This Client."


    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page
Prioritizing Referrals Involving Domestic Violence  

In determining the response priority for domestic violence referrals, it is particularly important to review past child abuse history. Information in the Screener Narrative and Investigation Narrative for previous referrals may build a case for an in-person response, such as whether:

  • There is a continued or increased pattern in the frequency or severity of violence.

  • A victim had previously left a batterer and has reunited with him/her.
    • Often, a previous referral will have been closed without services because the victim had left the batterer as the result of the incident.  Or, at case closing after the family had received child welfare services, the victim was no longer in the relationship with the batterer.

  • The child has been repeatedly exposed to violence.
    • In previous referrals, the child may have witnessed the violence, though is not a witness in the current referral.
    • Further, previous referrals may indicate that, during the previous incident, the child had been fearful, upset, crying, etc.
  • The victim or batterer had previously participation in services, which do not appear to have been effective in stopping the violent behaviors.

  • Either the victim or batterer has violated a previous restraining orders.

Further, when referrals are received via written police or sheriff's reports, Screening social workers carefully read the police report which may include the above information.

See OPP Chapter 1-8 CANC: Determining a Response to a Referral.

    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page

When to Evaluate-out a Referral Regarding Domestic Violence


When assessing for a response priority, the following protective factors are taken into consideration in determining whether to evaluate-out the referral. 

  • Child(ren) shows minimal damage
  • Family has positive supports
  • There are no other risk issues, e.g. substance abuse
  • There is minimal or no child abuse record history
  • The victim and child are in a safe location
  • The victim acknowledges the impact of domestic violence on the child and the risk it poses to the child's safety
  • Family members are participating in counseling or other community services
  • First time referral that does not involve physical violence
  • Victim is cooperative with police and accepted an Emergency Protective Restraining Order (EPRO)

The batterer's arrest as a result of the incident is not in and of itself a reason to evaluate-out as the batterer may be released from jail within a matter of hours or days.

The Screening social worker documents in the Screener Narrative the reasons why the determination was made to evaluate-out.  They consult with their supervisor, if there is a question about the appropriate response determination.

    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page

    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page
Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 1-5: Emergency Response Protocol
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-15: Assessment of Domestic Violence
bullet2 OPP Chapter 1-8: CANC: Determining a Response Priority
bullet2 OPP Chapter 1-2.1: DFCS Domestic Violence Specialists
    < Return to OPP Table of Contents | ^ Back to Top of Page