DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 1: Juvenile Court Hearings and Reports
8-5.1 Dispositional Report
Juvenile Court Hearings and Reports
8-5.1  Dispositional Report
Reference Points
DFCS Policy on Court Reports in CWS/CMS
Repeated Headings from the Jurisdiction Report
Example of a Dispositional Report
Other References

Dispostional Report Headings

Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 7/7/10
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Family Team Meeting (FTM) Case Plan Recommendations (SCZ843)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Court Management Section: Court Report
bullet Case Management Section: Case Plan Notebook


The Dispositional Hearing Report includes placement assessment and recommendations for dependency, visitation, and services. 

The Dispositional Report is formatted in  a Word document in CWS/CMS under the Court Management Section. 

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DFCS Policy on Court Reports in CWS/CMS   It is the policy of the Department of Family and Children's Services that, except for the Initial Hearing Report, all court reports must be created in CWS/CMS or copied into CWS/CMS prior to the date of the court hearing.  Every court hearing date in CWS/CMS must have a corresponding report.  Further, supervisors must approve court reports in CWS/CMS.
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Repeated Headings from the Jurisdiction Report  

The headings from the Jurisdictional Report, from Summary Recommendations through Criminal History, are repeated on the Dispositional Hearing Report format.  Among those heading the:  

  • Information in the following headings must be updated:
    • Summary Recommendations
    • Reason for Hearing
  • Information in the following headings may or may not need to be updated:
    • Front Page Headings
    • Children's Whereabouts
    • Parents/Legal Guardians
    • Interpreter
    • Attorneys
    • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
    • Search Result History
    • Legal History
    • Paternity/Legal Relationships
    • Family Law Status

    • Prior Child Welfare History
    • Criminal History
      • Information under the above headings that also appeared in the Jurisdictional Report will generally remain the same, but it may need to be updated if anything has changed since the Jurisdiction Hearing.  For example, the child may have been temporarily placed with a relative after the Jurisdictional Hearing was held, and the court will need to be advised of the move so that appropriate placement orders can be made.
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Jurisdictional Summary  

Under this section, the social worker summarize the outcome of the jurisdictional hearing.

Example: " At the Jurisdictional Hearing held on (date), the parents submitted on all allegations, and the Court found the petition to be true.  Further, the court found that the child is a person described in WIC § 300 (b) and assumed jurisdiction of the child."

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Social Study/Family Assessment  

The Social Study/Family Assessment section includes four headings under which the social worker discusses:

  • Problems Requiring Intervention and Possible Causes

Under this heading, the social worker discusses the problems the family is confronting and the factors that contributed to the problems, including issues such as domestic violence and drug abuse.

Example:  The children have been left without supervision and their day-to-day needs have not been met by the mother.  There appears to be a connection to the mother's drug use, which has distracted her away from her responsibilities as a parent.  Additionally, the mother is rearing three children as a single parent.  The stress of single parenthood may have contributed to the mother's poor judgment in leaving her children unsupervised.  At the time she was arrested for drug use, the children were found at home, alone.


  • Relevant Social, Cultural and Physical Factors

Under this heading, the social worker includes the following basic information on the mother and father: legal name, date and location of birth, ordinal position in the family, developmental information as relevant, Social Security Number, marital status and history, education, occupation, sources of income, number of siblings, parents' situation and any unusual health problems of parents or any family members, any historic patterns such as job instability, residence instability.  Include family of origin history of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Example: The mother, (full name), is the youngest of four siblings. She was born on (date) in San Jose, CA.  Her parents were married when they immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala.  Both are still living and they reside together.  There is an extended family that includes two maternal aunts and several cousins who have been supportive of the mother and her children.  The mother graduated from San Jose Academy in 2000 and has been employed previously as a retail cashier.  She is currently unemployed and had been receiving services under the CalWIN program.   She has three children and has never been married. She rents an apartment in which she has resided for the past seven months. Her criminal record indicates that she has been arrested once, in 2001, for drug possession, and was not convicted of the offense.  She is in good health, except for asthma, for which she occasionally uses a prescribed inhaler. 

(Repeat the social study information for each parent)


  • Family Strengths

Under this heading, the social worker includes any statements that the family has made regarding their strengths and also lists strengths that he/she has observed.

Example: It appears that the family has many strengths, which includes a strong bond between the mother and children.  The children are polite and respectful and exhibit no behavioral problems in the foster home in which they are currently placed.  They are above average students in school.  The mother has stated that she wants to enter counseling to assist her in stopping her drug use.  She has employable skills and desires to continue her education to become a medical technician.


  • Family Perception of Their Needs

Under this heading, the social worker includes any statements made by the parents/guardian regarding dispositional issues, such as:

  • wanting/not wanting dependency or assistance
  • wanting/not wanting services
  • preference for placement of children

Example: The mother states that she needs counseling to help her to overcome her drug use.  In addition, she says that she needs vocational education so that she can get a job above minimum wage.  She wants the children returned to her care and states that she will need child care so that she will be able to participate in services and education. The children state that they need to be home with their mother so that they can go back to their home schools.

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The Children section includes four headings.  Complete each heading for each child in the case.

  • Regarding

Name of child

  • Medical

Under this heading, the social worker summarizes the child's relevant medical history, including CHDP or alternative preventive health services.

Example:(Name of child) was seen by a doctor on (date) for a CHDP examination.  The doctor reported that the child's health is good in all areas.  She is current on her immunizations.

Under this heading, the social worker discusses the child's personality, developmental history and current functioning.  Try to paint a picture of the child!

Example: (Name of child) appears developmentally appropriate for his age, 5 years old.  He can dress himself and gets ready for school in the morning with little prompting from the foster mother.  He is outgoing and likes to play outside, especially soccer. He eagerly told this social worker the story of a recent trip to Happy Hollow park where he got licked by a llama. 

Example 2: Sabrina is an active and inquisitive teenager who may be characterized as "bubbly." She does not display any difficulty in making her needs or desires known. She enjoys independent activities, such as listening to a favorite compact disc, but also has friends with whom she likes to interact.   She is on the color guard squad at school and is on the girls' soccer team.

  • Educational

Under this heading, the social worker discusses the child's academic and behavioral status at school and relays concerns expressed by school personnel concerning the child and family.  Include the name of the school the child last attended (home school), grade, any IEP's, special resources needed, SED and future school plans.  A school report may be attached to the report.  Indicate if the child needs an educational assessment.

Example: (Name of child) began kindergarden in September at (name home school).  His teacher reports that he has been eager to learn and is helpful in the classroom.  His academic skill levels are age appropriate.  He can recite his ABC's and can count to 40.  After placement in his current foster home, he began attending (name of current school).  The teacher at that school reports no behavior problems in the three weeks he has attended and stated that he is pleasant to have in the classroom. See attached school report, dated 4/6/06.

  • Mental and Emotional

Under this heading, the social worker discusses the child's mental health status.  Discuss whether he or she is in therapy.  If the child is taking psychotropic medication, list the medication, dosage, and the date of of the last court authorization.  Indicate if the child is eligible for Victim Witness or other funding sources for services.

Example 1:  (Name of child) appears happy and well adjusted.  He eats a variety of foods and sleeps through the night.  He plays well with other children in the foster home and at school.  He is somewhat protective of his younger siblings.

Example 2: Michael is a friendly and sensitive child. He exhibits intense emotions particularly when he is frustrated, anxious or angry. During an interview, on 08/09/2006, at the Children’s Shelter, the undersigned observed Michael exhibiting behaviors and symptoms consistent with severe anxiety and panic attacks. Michael was highly agitated and alternated between pacing back and forth from one side of the room to the other and yelling to throwing himself down on a couch and uncontrollably crying. He pushed furniture around the room. Additionally, Michael showed signs of hyperventilation, becoming flush and sweating, trembling and shaking and muscle tension. Children’s Shelter staff members and Mental Health Clinician, Robert V., reported observing Michael exhibiting similar behaviors.  Robert V. submitted a referral for the child to the System of Care Program through the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department. 

Michael is currently taking Seroquel, 200 mg/day, to control  his mood swings.  The court last authorized the medication on (date).  Michael has an appointment with his physician on (date), at which time a different medication may be prescribed.

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Child(ren)'s Safety in Home  

Under this section, the social worker discusses why the child should or should not be removed from the physical custody of the parent(s) or guardian(s). If removal is recommended, give an explanation that is based on the allegations in the petition.

Example:  At this time, a return to the home of the mother is not recommended as the mother has only been drug testing for the past 3 weeks, and her first test was positive for amphetamines.  It will take several months for the mother to establish that she is abstaining from drug use, thus increasing the likelihood that the children will be safe in her care.  The father has no established residence and placement with him cannot be considered at this time.

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Consideration of Placement with Non-Custodial Parent  

This is an optional section that the social worker may choose, if it applies, from the Jurisdiction and Disposition dialog box that appears as the report is being created in CWS/CMS.

If applicable, under this section, the social worker states the case for placement or not placement of the child with a non-custodial parent.  The worker discusses whether the non-custodial parent is both willing and suitable to assume custody of the child. 

Example:  Placement with the non-custodial parent, James F., is not recommended.  Mr. F. has not had regular contact with the children during the past two years and last saw them four months ago.  Further, his criminal record indicates a history of drug use, and it is not certain if he is currently abstaining from drug and alcohol use.  His last arrest was 6 weeks ago.  He is out on bail, and a court hearing is pending regarding the charges.

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Consideration of Relative Placement  

This is an optional section that the social worker may choose, if it applies, from the Jurisdiction and Disposition dialog box that appears as the report is being created in CWS/CMS.

If it applies, under this section, the social worker discusses, in detail, assessments of relatives under consideration for placement.  Indicate whether a relative home approval has been completed.  If one has not been completed, state the status of the home approval and what information or documents are needed for completion.  If more than one relative is being considered, list each relative's place in the order of preferential consideration.  Discuss sibling placement, the relative's ability to provide permanence, if reunification fails, and commitment to facilitate reunification and visitation. 

Example: The mother has offered her mother and oldest sister, the children's maternal aunt, as two possible homes for placement considerations for the children.  Both the maternal grandmother and maternal aunt stated that they would be willing to accept the boys into their homes.  A home approval was completed on the maternal grandmother, and the boys were placed there together on (date).   The grandmother stated that she would consider becoming guardian for the children should reunification be unsuccessful.  She is willing to have the mother visit the boys in her home.

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Out-of-Home Placement  

This is an optional section that the social worker can choose, if it applies, from the Jurisdiction and Disposition dialog box that appears as the report is being created in CWS/CMS.

This section includes three headings.

  • Current Placement

Under this heading, the social worker discusses where the child is placed and how long he/she has been in the placement.  Talk about the child's adjustment to placement, appropriateness of placement and statement of the substitute caretaker.

Example:  The children were temporarily placed with the maternal grandmother on 7/12/05.  They have resided there for four weeks.  The grandmother owns a 3 bedroom/2 bath house, and the girls share one of the bedrooms.  There are twin beds and each side of the room reflects each girl's interests and personality.  The girls appear to be making an adequate adjustment.  The grandmother is able to drive the girls to their original home school, so they have been able to maintain their school friendships.  The grandmother has also agreed to allow the parents to visit the children at her home, whenever the social worker assesses that it would be appropriate to do so.

  • Sibling Placement

Report on whether the child and his/her siblings are placed together and/or the appropriateness of placing the siblings together. If the child is not currently placed with his/her siblings, address the following:

  • Whether the siblings were raised together in the same home
  • Whether the siblings have shared significant common experiences or have existing bonds
  • Whether either sibling expresses a desire to visit or live with his or her sibling, as applicable, and
  • Whether ongoing contact is in the child's best emotional interest.

Example:  Two of the siblings, Mark and Robert, are placed together in the home of their paternal aunt and uncle.  The third and oldest sibling, Richard, is placed at a (Community Care Facility) due to aggressive behaviors and seeming lack of ability or willingness to follow house rules.  The three siblings did grow up together, though Richard is seven years older than his next younger brother, Mark.  Mark and Robert have stated that they wish to be able to visit Richard, and bi-weekly visits have been scheduled for the boys to see each other.

  • Independent Living Plan Services

Each child age 16 or older must have an Transitional Independent Living case plan, the particulars of which are to be discussed under this heading.  The Transitional Independent Living Plan is to be attached to the court report.

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Under this section, the social worker discusses:

  • Visitation with parents
  • Continued appropriateness of visitation with siblings, grandparents and other relatives
  • Parents' compliance with visitation schedule
  • Child's response to visitation
  • Facts to support the recommendation for visitation  

Example 1: The father is Court ordered to have supervised visitation one time per week for two hours, and he has been maintaining weekly visits in the home of the grandparents, supervised by the grandmother. The father has been able to also participate in one of Rachael's physical therapy sessions. The father was approved to visit with Jacob in the hospital after work for the duration of Jacob's hospital stay. According to the paternal grandmother, the visits have gone well. 

On 9/15/04, the mother had a two-hour visit with all four children, supervised by this Social Worker. The mother was very appropriate with the children and was able to attend to their needs during the visit. The children and the mother played at the park and had a good time together. On 9/25/04, the mother had a supervised visit with Jacob while he was in the hospital, and the visit went very well, according to the grandmother.  Jacob was very excited to see his mother.

Example 2: At the Initial Hearing on 08/11/2006, the Court ordered that there should not be any visitation or contact between the child and the father as it would be detrimental to the child’s well-being. In the limited contacts the undersigned has had with the father, he has not asked how the child is or inquired about visiting him. Further, according to the maternal grandmother, in an interview on 08/29/2006, the father has not called her home to check on the child, to speak to the child or to ask to see the child.

In an interview on 08/29/2006, Michael indicated he does not want to visit with his father even if the visits were supervised by a social worker. The undersigned recommends that the current Court order in regards to visitation between the child and the father remain in effect until the psychological evaluation of the child is completed.

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Reasonable Efforts  

Under this section, the social worker discusses or lists details of services offered/delivered from the time of the child's removal to the present and the parental compliance, to this point.  There should be enough information for the court to make the reasonable efforts finding as a part of the dispositional orders.


The efforts that this social worker made in order to make an assessment and provide services to the family include:

1. In person interview with the father
2. In person interview with the mother
3. In person interview with the maternal grandparents
4. In person interview with the children
5. Telephone interview with the paternal grandmother
6. Collateral contact with Andrew’s school
7. Obtained Police Reports, from Gilroy Police Dept.
8. Arranged supervised visits
9. Arranged substance abuse testing
10. Provided referral for Victim Witness
11. Attended a Case Plan meeting at House On The Hill
12. DFCS Parent orientation referral for both parents
13. Completed bus pass request for the child

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Concurrent Planning  

This is an optional section that the social worker can choose, if it applies, from the Jurisdiction and Disposition dialog box that appears as the report is being created in CWS/CMS.  The section applies on all cases in which the child is placed out-of-home.

Under this section, if it applies, the social worker enters details regarding concurrent case planning (alternative permanent plan if efforts to reunify fail) for a child who is place in out-of-home care.  The following advisement (with suggested text) must be addressed in this section:

Example 1: On (date) the parents were advised of the option to participate in adoption planning and to voluntarily relinquish the child for adoption, if an adoption agency is willing to accept the relinquishment.  Both parents stated that they are not interested in voluntarily relinquishing their daughter.

Example 2: The mother was not advised of the option to participate in adoption planning, as the child is 16 years old and appears to have a relationship with her mother.   The father's whereabouts is currently unknown.

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Non-Reunification Issues (WIC § 361.5)  

This is an optional section that the social worker can choose, if it applies, from the Jurisdiction and Disposition dialog box that appears as the report is being created in CWS/CMS.

Under this section, if applicable, the social worker states the exact code which applies to the recommendation for non-reunification (bypass) under WIC § 361.5 and  discusses facts that will support the recommendation. Talk about the reasons for and impact of not ordering reunification services.

Example:  The recommendation is that no reunification services be offered to the mother as she is a person described in Welfare and Institutions Code 361.5(b)(13) in that she has a history of extensive, abusive, and chronic use of drugs or alcohol abuse and has resisted prior treatment for this problem during a three-year period immediately prior to the filing of the petition that brought the child to the court's attention.   Further, she has refused to comply with a drug or alcohol treatment program as described in the case plan required by WIC § 358.1 on at least two occasions, even though the programs identified were available and accessible.

The mother was offered Informal Supervision (IS) services in 2003 with regards to the child's half-sibling.  The mother has a criminal history of drug convictions dating from 1996.  As a result, as part of the IS case plan, the mother agreed to participate in drug counseling and drug testing.  She did not comply with these services, and the child's sibling was removed from her care.  A second sibling was placed in temporary custody, in 2004, and the mother was offered Family Reunification services, which, again, included provisions for her to drug test and participate in drug counseling.  The mother dropped out of drug counseling after three sessions and did not return.   She tested positive for drugs sporadically throughout the twelve-month Reunification period.   A toxicology screen of the child who is the subject of the current petition was positive for methamphetamines.

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The Assessment/Evaluation section is the place for the social worker's opinion.  Detailed facts previously included in the body of the report should not be repeated and new facts should not appear in this section.  Rather, this section should succinctly summarize, associate, and analyze facts in the body of the report in way that logically leads to what is being is being recommended. Social workers should not independently offer their own mental health diagnosis of a client or otherwise attribute a mental or psychological condition to a client, regardless of the social worker's professional standing, such as license or experience.  Both client strengths and challenges should be acknowledged in order to place the case in respectful prospective.

The Assessment/EValuation should be organized into four paragraphs or sections, each with a discussion point.  

  • Paragraph 1 - Summarize the children's status.  Sometimes parties who receive the report will first turn to the Assessment/Evaluation section for a quick summary. 
  • Paragraph 2 - Summarize the family's strengths; in particular, relate each family member's progress with any services offered during the investigation period.
  • Paragraph 3 - In this paragraph, discuss the problems and concerns as they relate to the allegation in the petition.  Give recommendations for services which should directly relate to the discussion of problems.
  • Paragraph 4 - Give a prognosis based on your assessment.

See Assessment/Evaluation:

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Under this section, list all attachments cited in the report with the document title and date.  Attach the documents at the end of the report, after the recommendations and case plan.   Included under attachments are collateral reports, letters, evaluations, certificates and attendance records.

For all Dispositional Reports for Family Wellness Court cases that include the Initial Case Plan and dispostional recommendations, the Family Team Meeting (FTM) Case Plan Recommendations (SCZ843) is attached and referenced in the court report.

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If submitting only a Dispostional Report after Jurisdiction has been ordered by the Court at the Jurisdictional Hearing, the social worker:

  • Chooses the appropriate recommendation between REC 011-053. 
  • Deletes the Jurisdictional recommendations 1-5.
  • Renumbers the recommendations to begin with #1.
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Case Plan   Under this section, the social worker may write, "See attached."  The CWS/CMS case plans, signed by the social worker and social work supervisor, and preferably signed by the parent(s), is attached to the Dispostional Report.
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Example of a Dispositional Report  

Example 1: Paternity Issues

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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 9-1: Reasonable Efforts

OPP Chapter 9-5: Non-reunification (Bypass) Cases

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