DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 8: Juvenile Court Hearings and Reports
8-1 300 Petition
Juvenile Court Hearings and Reports
8-1 300 Petition
Reference Points
Requirements of the Petition
Conditions for Filing a 300 Petition/ Welfare and Institutions Code
Writing the Petition
Who Files the Petition
Time Restrictions
Steps to Filing a Petition
Out-of-Custody Petitions
Noticing Requirements
Amending a Petition
Other References

Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 10/3/07
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 300
Popup Window WIC § 311
Popup Window WIC § 332
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word 300 Petition Worksheet
 CWS/CMS Forms:
PDF Referral Management Section: Investigative Narrative
PDF Referral Management Section: Letter to Mandated Reporter
PDF Court Management Section: JV Petition
PDF Court Management Section: Statement Regarding Paternity
PDF Service Management Section: Contact Notebooks


The initial petition filed on behalf of a child is referred to as a 300 Petition because the conditions under which the petition may be filed are found in Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 300. The 300 Petition is a legal document that is required to begin court proceedings to intervene in the parent/child relationship, establishing the child as a Court dependent. The petition states the legal basis for Juvenile Court jurisdiction as described in the allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation that, if substantiated, would indicate a need to establish dependency. When sustained, the 300 Petition provides the legal foundation for all future court proceedings.

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Requirements of the Petition  

The petition must:

  • Be supported by specific, concise, accurate, factual evidence that proves the child falls within the scope of the WIC § 300.
  • Be sustainable by a Preponderance of Evidence.
    • Preponderance of Evidence means that the evidence shows that the allegations of the petition are more likely true than not true.
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Conditions for Filing a 300 Petition/ Welfare and Institutions Code  

If a child is under the age of 18 and is described by the conditions outlined in WIC § 300, he/she is a proper subject for jurisdiction by the Juvenile Court. The court must make a finding that the child falls within the provisions of § 300, and after doing so, may adjudge the child to be a Dependent of the Court. WIC § 300 describes the circumstances under which a social worker may petition the Court to take jurisdiction over a child. Below is a summary of each sub section:

  • 300(a) – severe physical harm or a substantial risk of severe physical harm by a parent or legal guardian, inflicted non-accidentally
  • 300(b) – failure to protect and/or supervise or a substantial risk of failure to protect and/or supervise resulting in abuse and/or neglect; inability to provide regular care due to mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse
  • 300(c) - severe emotional abuse or a substantial risk of severe emotional abuse
  • 300(d) – sexual abuse or a substantial risk of sexual abuse
  • 300(e) – severe physical abuse to a child under the age of 5
  • 300(f) – the child's parent caused a death of another child through abuse or neglect
  • 300(g) – no provision for support; parent incarcerated or institutionalized and cannot arrange for care of the child; parents whereabouts is unknown
  • 300(h) – the child has been freed for adoption by one or both parents for 12 months by either relinquishment or termination of parental rights or an adoption petition has not been granted
  • 300(i) – cruelty
  • 300(j) - abuse of a sibling
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Writing the Petition  

See Drafting an Effective § 300 Petition under  OPP Handbook 9.

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Who Files The Petition  

Juvenile Dependency petitions are filed by the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS). A Petition is considered filed when the Juvenile Court Clerk, located at the Court building at 115 Terraine St., receives the Petition with the original signature of the social work supervisor and date-stamps the Petition.

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Time Restrictions  

When a child is taken into temporary custody, the referral that is created is termed a in-custody referral. For in-custody referrals, a petition must be filed within 48 Judicial Hours or the child must be released back to the parents. Judicial Hours refers to the days that Court is in session and excludes weekends and Court holidays.  An Initial Hearing is held the judicial day following the day the petition is filed, if the child is in custody.

If a petition is filed on behalf of a child who is not removed from the care of his/her parents, it is referred to as an out-of-custody referral. Those petitions must be filed within 30 days of the DFCS social worker's initial contact with the child.   The Initial Hearing date is set three days after the petition is filed with the County Clerk.

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Steps to Filing a Petition  

Petitions are entered into the child welfare computer system, Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS), by a DI legal clerk. In order for the clerk to be able to access the proper CWS/CMS screen, the DI social worker must first turn the referral into a case in CWS/CMS. The steps for a DI social worker to close a referral and open a case are:

  • Open the existing referral folder in CWS/CMS.
  • Enter all contacts in the Contact notebook of CWS/CMS in the Narrative box.
    • The Purpose of the contact is Investigate Referral in the drop down menu.
  • Verify and update all information in the Client notebook section of CWS/CMS .
  • Create the Investigative Narrative or update the Narrative that may have been started by the ER social worker.
    • After opening the Narrative page, type "fafa" and hit "Enter".  The Narrative outline will appear.
  • Conclude all allegations for each child.
  • Generate and send Letter to Mandated Reporter, if referral came from a mandated reporter.
  • Under Action items, clicks "Client Disposition.
    • Enter the date of closure.
    • Click on "Open a Case" as the reason for closure from the drop down menu.
    • Click "Approval" and click "Pending Approval."
  • Submit the case file to the supervisor for final approval in CWS/CMS.

After the referral is turned into a case in CWS/CMS, the DI social worker:

  • Completes a 300 Petition Worksheet.
  • Submits the Worksheet to the petitioning clerks DI legal clerks so that they can schedule the hearing with the County Clerk 's office.  
    • If the child has a sibling who is already a Dependent of the Court, notify the DI petitioning legal clerks so that the child will be calendared in the same courtroom as the sibling.
    • If the child already has a petition number from a previous court hearing, notify the petitioning legal clerks, so that the same petition number is used for the current petition.
  • Drafts the petition allegations in a word document on a disc.
  • Has the drafted allegations reviewed by County Counsel.
  • Submits the disc with the drafted allegations to the legal clerks who will:
    • Type the allegations of the petition into CWS/CMS.
    • Give a printed (pink paper) version of the petition to the Dependent Intake supervisor to review and sign, when approved by the supervisor.
    • Send the petition to the County Clerk for filing.

  • Completes the Dependency Initial Hearing Report (SCZ12) on a disk and prints out the report.
  • Submits the SCZ12 to the Petitioning legal clerks along with the Initial Hearing Packet which includes:
    • Screener Narrative.
    • Investigative Narrative.
    • Declaration of Reasonable Efforts.
    • Juvenile Contact Report (JCR), if an in-custody petition.
    • Other documents as appropriate.
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Out-of-Custody Petitions  

Out-of-custody petitions refer to petitions filed on behalf of children not placed in temporary custody but for whom juvenile court jurisdiction is sought. Out-of-custody petitions may begin with an out-of-custody referral.  The steps to filed an Out-of-Custody petition are the same as the steps to file a Petition.   DFCS policy is that out-of-custody petitions be filed within 48 hours of the referral assignment.

However, there are some differences between an in-custody and out-of-custody petition. For out-of custody petitions:

  • The Initial Petition Hearing is set 3 (three) days after the date the petition is filed.
    • For In-custody petitions, the Initial Petition Hearing is set within 72 hours from the time of the child's removal from the home.  This usually falls on the day after the petition is filed.
  • The Initial Hearing date will not be scheduled by the Court Clerk, until the physical petition is filed with the Clerk.
    • For in-custody petitions, the DFCS petition clerk can call the Court clerk and get the hearing date over the phone.
  • Only the date of the Jurisdictional Hearing will appear on the petition.
    • For in-custody petitions, both the Initial Hearing date and Jurisdictional Hearing date appears on the petition.

  • The petition clerk must call the parents to notice them of the date of the Initial Hearing.
  • The DI social worker ensures that the Statement Regarding Paternity (JV-505) is provided to the alleged father(s).
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Noticing Requirements  

Parents and children over 10 years of age who are the subject of a juvenile dependency court action have a legal right to be notified of all court hearings to which they are a party and of the allegations that have been set forth. The DI legal clerk types up legal notices and sends them, with a copy of the Petition, to parents and children to inform them of the details of the Initial Petition Hearing. However, because of the time restrictions, the legal notices may not reach the parents or children prior to the scheduled Initial Hearing. Therefore, the DI social worker:

  • Notifies the parents by phone or in-person:
    • That a petition is being filed.
    • Of the date, time and location of the Initial Hearing.
      1. The Initial Hearing will take place the day after the Petition is filed.
      2. The time set for Initial Hearing is 8:30 a.m.
      3. The Initial Hearing is held at the Court building at 115 Terraine, St. San Jose, CA, in either Department 67, 68 or 70. The legal clerk will advise the DI social worker of the Court Department number, which is arranged by the County Clerk's Office.

  • Notifies any child over 10 of the hearing and make arrangements for transportation to the hearing if the child wants to attend court.

A further noticing requirement, if there is any information that the child has American Indian or Eskimo ancestry and may fall under the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), must be sent to the respective tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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Amending a Petition  

Between the time a petition is initially filed and the time it is sustained at the Jurisdictional Hearing, it may be necessary to change the wording of the petition in order to have it correspond to any additional information that has been obtained.

To amend the petition the DI social worker:

  • Makes a copy of the initial petition.
  • Indicates “Amended” in red by the Petition number.
    • Indicate whether it is the 1st , 2nd, 3rd, etc. amendment.

  • Makes any needed changes to the allegations in red.
  • Submits the amended petition to County Counsel for review.
  • Submits the amended petition, signed off by County Counsel, to the petitioning legal clerks.
  • Notifies all parties that the petition is being amended.

The social work supervisor signs the amended petition, after which it is given to the legal clerks to be sent to the County Clerk for filing.

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Other References  
MS Word Disposition of your Referral
PDF CWS/CMS Training Guide: Contact Notebook

Drafting an Effective § 300 Petition

bullet2 Dependency Initial Hearing Report
bullet2 Reporting to the Department of Justice (DOJ)
bullet2 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
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