DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 4: Case Management Services and Case Plans
4-4  Domestic Violence: Services and Case Plans
Case Management Services and Case Plans
4-4  Domestic Violence: Services and Case Plans
Reference Points
Practice Applications
Domestic Violence and Stalking Laws
Domestic Violence Services
Contraindication of Conjoint Services
Domestic Violence Advocates
Reference Points
Psychological Evaluations in Domestic Violence Cases
Case Plans with Families when Domestic Violence Is Involved
Case Plans in CWS/CMS
Safety Plans
52-Week Batterer's Intervention Program
Parenting without Violence Program
Other References

Reference Points
Effective Date: 6/8/11
Last Updated: 8/13/09
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Listing of California Laws Applicable to Domestic Violence
PDF Standing Court Order - 10/18/95 - Allowing Restricted Discussion Among Adult Probation, State Parole and DFCS
 CWS/CMS Forms:

Client Services Section: Case Plan Notebook


In those cases where domestic violence occurs or has occurred, the primary focus of DFCS intervention is assessing the risk to and the protection of the child(ren).  The preferred way to protect children inmost domestic violence cases is to assist the non-offending parent to develop a child/family safety plan and to hold the offender accountable.  To do so requires working closely with victim's advocates, the criminal justice system and domestic violence offenders' treatment programs.

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Practice Applications  
  • Adult victims of family violence should be supported in their efforts to protect themselves and their children.  However, the strength of the non-offending parent's ability to protect the child must be demonstrated.
  • The autonomy of the adult victim to decide one's own life and course action must be respected. 
    • No adult victim of family violence should ever be encouraged to stay in an abusive or dangerous relationship, nor should they be forced to leave.
  • Where family violence has been identified and the child's safety can be reasonably assured, the relationship between the non-offending parent and her/his child should be supported and preserved. 
    • The non-offending parent should be supported in his/her efforts to protect herself/himself and her/his child.
  • Social workers should work collaboratively with domestic violence advocates, domestic violence offenders' treatment program, health services providers and the criminal justice system to both increase the safety of the non-offending victim and the child and hold the offender accountable for the violence.


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Domestic Violence and Stalking Laws  

Social workers must be knowledgeable of existing state domestic violence and stalking laws and use the laws as a resource to provide protection to the non-offending parent and child. Some of the listings of the laws that are included on the California Attorney General's Safe State website include:

  • California AB 2647 (Kuehl) enacted to protect children from the effects of domestic violence, including giving the court the authority to remove the battering parent or guardian from the home, prohibiting visitation if it would jeopardize the safety of the child and requiring domestic violence training for personnel involved in such juvenile court cases. (Family Code 6380; Penal Code 273.65; and Welfare & Institutions Code 213.5, 302, 304, 332, 361, 362, 362.1, 362.4, 16206,16208 and 218.5) (1996)
  • California AB 2462 (Bates) which provides that a child who resides in a home where domestic violence has occurred may be presumed to have sustained physical injury for purposes of victim witness funding, regardless of whether or not the child has witnessed the crime. (Government Code 13960). (2002).
  • AB 2826 (Daucher) expands the penal code definition of domestic violence to include violence by a current or past intimate partner or an unemancipated minor, i.e. teen dating violence. (Penal Code 836 and 13700). (2002).
  • AB 2116 (Alby) allows a reasonable cause arrest in domestic violence cases when the officer does not witness the incident. (Penal Code 836) (1996)
  • Since July 1, 1999, survivors fleeing domestic abuse are offered a free post office box for mail forwarded by the Secretary of State. Certain records that are normally public, such as voter registration information, are made confidential.
  • California AB 2231 (Kuehl), which places out-of-state domestic violence restraining orders on the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, presumes their validity and accords them full faith and credit in California courts once they are entered into the Domestic Violence Protective Order Registry. (Family Code 6380, 6380.5 and Penal Code 836) (1996) (California Department of Justice)
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Domestic Violence Services  

For a listing of services related to domestic violence, see OPP Chapter 22-5: Domestic Violence Services.

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Contraindication for Conjoint Services   Families in which adult domestic violence occurs should not be referred to or engaged in services in which they must cooperatively participate, such as couples, marriage, and family counseling services, or alternative dispute resolution and mediation services.

Intervention strategies that require the cooperative participation of a victim and her abusive partner often presuppose an equal relationship in which both parties are free to openly participate. Mediation, for example, is a process through which equal parties are engaged in negotiations in an effort to resolve a conflict.  Victims of domestic violence who, by definition, are being controlled by their partners, are significantly compromised in their ability to negotiate freely and on equal footing. Because of the inherent imbalance of power between an abuser and a victim, mediation is contraindicated in domestic violence cases.

Similarly, couples and marriage counseling often presuppose the ability of both parties to freely participate. These interventions, however, have the potential to increase the likelihood that the abuser will physically or emotionally harm the victim. Many victims report being threatened or assaulted after joint intake or counseling sessions for things they said or did during the session.

In addition to the increased danger these practices may create for domestic violence victims, such practices also reinforce the notion that a victim shares (at least in part) some responsibility for solving the problem of her/his partner's violent and/or controlling behavior. Such a message reinforces the mistaken belief that many batterers already hold, i.e., that their partners are to blame for their violence.  The message encourages victims to internalize responsibility for their partners' violence.

As with any available option that has known risks, it is important for providers to be prepared to share information with a victim about the risks and limitations of utilizing services that require joint participation with her/his partner so that the victim is able to make an informed decision about whether or not to utilize such services. (New York State Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties, 1998: Guiding Principles, pg. 19).

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Domestic Violence Advocates  

Domestic violence advocates through Domestic Violence Intervention Collaborative are fequently at Court and will are available to provide support as well as information regarding domestic violence to victims.

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Psychological Evaluations in DV Cases  

Psychological evaluations should not be utilized to determine whether a client is an abuser.  That determination is made by the social worker, based on an assessment of the information gathered during the investigation or that presents itself during the course of the case. 

As with cases involving other issues, in cases involving domestic violence the questions for the evaluators center around:

  • The psychological dynamics that are in play in the family/relationship.
  • The parents' capacity to protect the child from harm or risk of harm.


Referrals for psychological evaluations on domestic violence include cases in which:

  • There are indications that the parent's functioning is imparied due to an acute mental illness, neurocognitive deficits, brain injury or substance abuse.
  • The social worker wants a recommendation to clarify whether a 52-Week Batterers' Intervention Program should be supplemented by a concurrent treatment or whether it is appropriate to supplant the program with an alternative treatment.
    • For example, the person has a thought disorder that cannot be stabilized with medications.
  • The abuser is minimally violent and the social worker wants expert recommendations to clarify the best alternative for treatment or visitation.

  • There are questions regarding a parent's capacity to protect the child.

Questions for the evaluator may include the following:

  • What is the level of lethality or potential for lethality in the relationship?
  • What is the nature of the abuser's attachment to the child?
  • Does the abuser acknowledge the effect of violence on the child?  On the adult victim?
  • What is the abuser's capacity to have productive relationships?
  • What is his/her capacity to have empathy?
  • What is the protective capacity of the parent or significant other in the adult relationship?
  • What services would be most effective in assisting the parent?
    • Is the parent capable of using the services?


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Case Plans with Families when Domestic Violence Is Involved  

The primary goal of case planning with clients on cases involving domestic violence is to promote enhanced protection for the victim and to have offenders take responsibility for their own behavioral change. It has been demonstrated that an effective strategy in achieving and maintaining safety for children living in households where there is adult abuse is to identify the safety needs of the vulnerable caretaker or parent and to integrate into case and/or service plans responses that address those safety needs as a primary issue.  Protecting victims also provides protection to children. When an adult victim's safety needs are acknowledged and met, she/he is in a better position to develop an alliance with a child welfare worker that focuses on protecting the safety interests of the children. This is true even when the victim has been abusive to the children.  (New York State Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties, 1998)

  • Case Plan Tasks for Adult Victims and Children

These tasks may include:

  • The parent will participate in evaluation and counseling to address personal safety issues in order to protect herself/himself and the children from the abusive partner.
  • The parent will participate in safety planning for herself/himself and the children.
  • The parent will participate in supportive counseling for herself/himself and the children.
  • The parent will participate in educating herself/himself regarding the effects of domestic violence on the children.
  • The parent will not use excessive discipline with the children.
  • The children will have a safety plan that is consistent with their willingness, age and development.

  • Services for Adult Victim and Children

These may include:

  • Individual / group counseling through battered women's programs or other community services
    • The preference is for a closed-curriculum victim's therapeutic support group.
  • Legal, housing, welfare advocacy
  • Victim Witness funds
  • Shelter and transitional living services
  • 16-Week Parenting without Violence program
  • 52-Week Child Abuser's Treatment Program (itf the adult victim is the offending parent)
  • Day care
  • Parent support groups

Child welfare workers should recognize that, at times, the legitimate safety and survival strategies employed by victims (such as resistance, non-compliance, refusal of services, and dishonesty) may conflict with service plan strategies. Victims may attempt to protect themselves from the violent and coercive acts of their partners in ways that conflict with agreed upon service plans. A victim's use of survival strategies related to safety should be supported and encouraged and not seen as a failure to comply with the service plan, but as an indication that the service plan is in need of review and modification.

  • Service Plan Tasks for Offenders

These may include:

  • The offender will not behave in a manner that is verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive toward his/her partner and/or children.
  • The offender will not involve the children in attempts to control his/her partner or force them to witness or participate in other abusive behaviors.
  • The offender will participate in an evaluation and specialized treatment program, if indicated, and follow all recommendations.
  • The offender will be educated regarding the effects of domestic violence on children.
  • The offender will follow all conditions of court orders and probation.
  • See Handouts - Probation Information for Domestic Vioence Defendants.

  • Services for Offenders

These may include:

  • 52-Week approved batterers' treatment programs (this is always included as part of case plan services for perpetrators)
  • 16-Week Accountability class 
  • 16-Week Parenting without Violence program
  • 52-Week Child Abuser's Treatment Program (if the abuser is also an offending parent)
  • Visitation Center services
  • Specialized assessment services focusing on issues of family violence
  • When there are signs of episodic, but low level, substance abuse that precede violent episodes,  participation in a substance abuse program, even if the substance abuse does not appear to contribute to dysfunction in other ways.
  • Authorization for open communication between all service providers to alert each other in the event of signs of heightened dangerousness.

  • Inappropriate Services / Interventions

The following services / interventions are not appropriate in cases involving domestic violence:

  • Options for protection of the mother that in her estimation increase the level of danger
  • Couples or family therapy
  • Court mediation / divorce mediation
  • Anger management groups and other non-approved batterer's treatment options
  • Visitation arrangements that endanger mothers and/or children


To ensure that information regarding the victim's whereabouts and safety plans are not disclosed to the offender, separate service plans - one for the non-offending parent and children, and one for the offender are developed.  The location of services or names of service providers are not included in the case plans.

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Case Plans in CWS/CMS  

Best practice parameters indicate that in cases involving intimate partner violence (IPV), separate cases should be developed for each parent.  However,  CWS/CMS does not allow for the development of two separate case plans.  For cases involving IPV, the social worker must list separate objectives and services for each parent within one case plan.  Two case plans are printed, and each parent signs one of the printed case plan.

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Safety Plans  

DFCS social workers do not develop written safety plans with clients.  If a Safety Plan is developed between an adult victim and a domestic violence advocate from a community agency, the social worker does not document contact notes that there is a written plan.  This is a measure to protect confidentiality.

For further information about safety plans, see OPP Chapter 4-4.3: Safety Plans.

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52-Week Batterers' Program  

A 52-Week Batterers' Program is the best intervention for perpetrators of domestic violence.  Except in some specific cases, a 52-Week Program is always included as part of case plan services for perpetrators.       


The following are acceptable justifications for allowing an intervention other than a 52-Week Batterers' Program:

  • Physiological Disturbance
    • Related to brain damage or diagnosed neurological disorder
  • Mental Illness
    • The perpetrator has a thought disorder or post traumatic stress disorder that cannot be stabilized with medication.
  • Substance Abuse
    • The substance abuse is severe and current.
    • The substance abuse is severe and recent and the man is in the first few weeks of recovery.
    • There is a history of substance abuse and severe neurological and cognitive damage that are observable and verified by a neuropsychological exam that indicates that participation in a 2-week program is beyond the client's capacity.


How to complete a Batterer's Intervention Program (BIP) Referral: Batterer's Intervention Referral Instructions

This referral includes the providers the Department of Family and Children's Services contacts with.

A complete referral will have:

  • A Batterer’s Intervention (52 week) Services request -located on the SCZ414Z Master List.
  • Attachments for every box that is checked YES (ESPECIALLY the COURT ORDER).
  • All requested information completely filled in.
  • A selected VENDOR for LOCATION.
  • All required signatures.


Other available certified Batterer's Intervention Programs- not all funded by the Department of Family and Children's Services:

Batterer's Intervention Program Providers


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Parenting without Violence  

Parenting without Violence is a 16-week parent education program provided by the Department of Family and Children's Services for DFCS clients.

See OPP Chapter 19-10: How to Refer to the Parenting without Violence Program.

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Other References  
PDF Accountability and Connection with Abusive Men
bullet2 OPP Chapter 13-15:  Adult Probation and State Parole/DFCS Connected Cases
bullet2 OPP Chapter 19-10: How to Refer to the Parenting without Violence Program
bullet2 OPP Chapter 22-5: Domestic Violence Services
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