DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Intake
1-7  Evaluating-Out Referrals
1-7 Evaluating-Out Referrals
Reference Points
Criteria for Evaluating-out a Referral
Screening Social Worker Evaluates-out
Screening Unit Supervisor Approval
Supervisor Downgrading a Referral to Evaluate-out
ER Social Worker Evaluates-out
Duplicate Referrals

Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 6/30/10
 Legal Basis:
PDF California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Div. 31 Regulations, 31-105)
PDF CDSS MPP Div. 31 Sections 31-002 (c ) (9), (e) (12), (n) (1)
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 16501(f)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
doc CAT Response Determination Assessment Tool
Bullet Referral Management Section: Screener Narrative
Bullet Referral Management Section: Emergency Response Document
Bullet Referral Management Section: Letter to Mandated Reporter

Overview   The decision to evaluate-out (to not assign the referral for an in-person response or investigation) referrals may be made by a CANC Screening social worker, CANC screening supervisor, ER unit supervisor or an ER social worker. The supervisor gives the final approval for a referral to be evaluated out. The exception is referrals alleging abuse or neglect of children under DFCS supervision in out-of-home care.  Those referrals may only be evaluated out with both supervisory and bureau program manager approval.
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Criteria for Evaluating-out a Referral  

A referral is evaluated-out based on criteria outlined in CDSS Div. 31 Regulations, 31-105. Criteria for evaluating-out include that:

  • There is insufficient information to identify or locate the family or child alleged to be abused or the family.
  • The problem described in the referral is a duplicate and is currently being investigated or has been previously investigated.
  • The allegation does not meet one of the definitions of child abuse, exploitation, or neglect described in CDSS Div. 31 Sections 31-002 (c)(9), (e)(12), (n) (1).
  • The child's caretaker was not negligent in allowing the alleged perpetrator access to the child.
  • The allegation does not include specific acts and/or behavioral indicators that are suggestive of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • Additional/collateral information invalidates the allegation.
  • There is a history of inconclusive or unfounded reports from the same reporter, and no new allegations are made or risk factors identified in the current referral.
  • If the referral involves children under DFCS supervision placed out-of-home. there is consultation with and approval from the CANC supervisor and bureau program manager to evaluate out the referral.

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

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Screening Social Worker Evaluates-out  

After the referral and CAT RD tool (pages 3 and 4 online) are created, the Screening social worker:

  • Clicks the Action button in the referral.

  • Chooses "Determine Response" from the drop-down menu.

  • Answers the questions in the Response Guidelines in the Determine Response dialog box.
    • The advise may be to evaluate-out the referral.
    • For out-of-home abuse and neglect referrals regarding children under DFCS supervision, there is a policy override.  These types of referrals may only be evaluated-out when there is both supervisor and bureau program manager approval.

  • Chooses “Evaluate Out” from the drop down menu in the Decision field.

  • Chooses Not Referred, in the Agency Referred to field.

  • Records the rationale for the decision in in the Rationale box.

  • Clicks the Approval button.

  • Clicks Pending Approval in the Approval Status field drop down menu.

  • Writes "Duplicate Referral" in the Screener Alert Box, if the referral is a duplicate of a previous referral.

  • Makes a cross report to law enforcement on reports of physical abuse, sexual abuse and severe neglect.
  • Cross reports referrals on out-of-home foster care abuse or neglect to Community Care Licensing (CCL).
    • Document the Cross Report in CWS/CMS.

  • Prints out and sends a Letter to Mandated Reporter, or contacts the mandated reporter by phone and documents the phone call in CWS/CMS, if the report was made by a mandated reporter.

  • Prints out the CAT RD tool and Screener Narrative.
  • Attaches together:
    • SC 22 (Child Abuse and Neglect Referral)
    • Pages 1 and 2 of the handwritten CAT RD tool
    • Pages 3 and 4 of the printed CAT RD tool
    • Screener Narrative.

  • Puts the SC22, Screener Narrative and RD tool in the ER clerical ID basket for ER clerical processing.
    • After processing, clerical will give the referral to the CANC supervisor for approval.

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Screening Unit Supervisor Approval  

When receiving a referral that the Screening social worker has assessed to  evaluate-out, the Screening Unit supervisor:

  • Reviews the Screener Narrative.
  • Checks to make sure the allegation category (physical, sexual, emotion abuse, etc.) entered in CWS/CMS matches the allegations in the report.
    • Checks on first page of the ER Information Document for allegation under victim’s name.

  • Reviews the police report, if one is attached.

  • Reviews the Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR), if one is attached.

  • Reviews previous referral or case history in CWS/CMS, if there are questions or concerns about previous reports.

  • Reviews the CAT Response Determination Tool.
    • CATs are not created for referral generated from mailed-in police reports or Suspected Child Abuse Reports (per Department policy).

  • Determines if the referral meets the criteria for Path 1 Differential Response (DR).
If the referral.. then the CANC supervisor..
Meets the criteria for Path I DR

Sends referral to DR Coordinator.

  • Do not document in CWS/CMS reference to the DR referral.

Does not meet the criteria for Path I DR

Proceeds with the following steps to evaluate-out the referral.


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Supervisor Downgrading a Referral to



When the Screening Unit supervisor or Emergency Response unit supervisor assesses that a referral response should be changed from Immediate or 10-Day Response to Evaluate-out, the ER unit supervisor:

  • Creates a new CAT Response Determination tool in CWS/CMS.
    • Only pages 3 and 4 of the RD tool must be completed.

  • Creates a new Screener Narrative.
    • Copy the information from the original Screener Narrative.
    • Paste the original Narrative to the new Narrative.
    • Add an Addendum to the new Narrative with rational for upgrading or downgrading.

  • Clicks
    1. Action in the browser
    2. Determine Response in the drop down menu.
    3. Approval button
    4. Requires Modification in the drop down menu.

  • Changes the Determine Response box in CWS/CMS to “Evaluate Out.”

  • Records the rationale for the decision in CWS/CMS in the rationale box.

  • Creates a new Screener Narrative by:
    • Copying the original Screener Narrative.
    • Removing the original Screener Narrative.
    • Clicking on "new" button to create a new blank Narrative.
    • Pasting the original Screener Narrative in the new one.
    • Adding an Addendum at the bottom of the Narrative to explain why the referral is being downgraded.
    • Typing his/her name and date the downgrade is approved.

  • Deletes the existing Emergency Response Referral Document in CWS/CMS.

  • Creates a new Emergency Response Referral Document with updated information.

  • Creates a contact in CWS/CMS and documents all contacts that preceded the decision to evaluate out.

  • Indicates in red pen on the original CWS/CMS referral document that the response is downgraded to evaluate out.

  • Sends a Letter to Mandated Reporter (found in CWS/CMS) or contacts the mandated reporter by phone, and documents the phone call in CWS/CMS, if the report was made by a mandated reporter.
  • Gives the folder to ER clerical No-Response Desk for filing.
    • If these steps are being followed by the ER social worker, the social worker gives the folder to the supervisor who then forwards the folder to clerical.
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ER Social Worker Downgrades a Referral to Evaluate-out  

If an ER social worker assesses that a referral may be evaluated out, the ER social worker:

  • Gets approval from an ER unit supervisor to evaluate out the referral and documents the approval in CWS/CMS.
    • If the referral involves a child under DFCS supervision placed out-of-home, the bureau program manager must also give approval.
  • Follows the steps outlined above for the ER unit supervisor process.
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Duplicate Referrals  

A duplicate referral is one in which a report has already been made by another referent. To be a duplicate referral, the abuse or neglect:

  • Must have occurred at the same time as the original referral
  • Must have occurred in the same location as the original referral and
  • Must have been perpetrated by the same person.

Exceptions would include a report of a dirty home or ongoing neglect, where the time frame may extend several weeks. 


When receiving a report that is a duplicate referral, the Screening social worker:

  • Tells the referent that the report has already been made.
  • Gives the referent the screener's name so that the referent may keep a record of their attempted report.
  • Explains that the referent, if a mandated reporter, may still send in a written report.


If the reporter insists that the screener takes a report, the Screening social worker take the information.


Then the Screening Social Worker..
The original referral remains open Adds an addendum to the Screener Narrative on the original referral, documenting the duplicate referral.
The original referral has been closed
  • Creates a new referral.
  • Writes the referral number of the original referral in the Screener Narrative.
  • Reminds the referent, if a mandated reporter, that the referent must submit a written report within 36 hours.


The Screening social worker forwards the referral to the ER clerical for processing.  After ER clerical processing, the evaluated out referral is given to the CANC supervisor for E/O approval.  If there is an open referral on the original referral, the duplicate is forwarded to the ER social worker assigned to the open referral.

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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 3-16.1: CAT - Response Determination Tool
bullet2 Determining a Response to a Referral
MS Word CWS/CMS (Referral) Process Map
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