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Intake > Responsibilities > Child Protection Hotline (CPH)

Child Protection Hotline

0050-502.10 | Revision Date: 3/18/21

Overview

This policy guide outlines the steps to take when a call is received at the Child Protection Hotline.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

Child Protection Hotline (CPH)

CPH Screening

Importance of Consultation During Decision Making

Information and Referral (I & R) Calls

Information Calls

Information to CSW Calls

Consultation Calls

Evaluating Out Referrals

Companion Referrals

Overflows/Call Backs

Classifying Allegations

Cross-Reporting

Drug Exposed Infants

Procedure

Screening Calls

CPH CSW Responsibilities

Overflows/Call Backs

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Information Calls

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Information to CSW Calls

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Consultation Calls

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Creating a Referral

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Classifying Allegations

CPH CSW Responsibilities

Evaluating Out Referrals

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Cross Reporting

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Taking a Domestic Violence Referral

CPH CSW Responsibilities

Drug Exposed Infants

CPH CSW Responsibilities

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Attachments

Forms

Referenced Policy Guides

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 10/24/19 version to incorporate recommendations from Evident Change [formerly the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) Children’s Research Center’s (CRC)] Structured Decision Making (SDM) Fidelity Reviews, add additional guidance regarding various Information and Referral calls and consultations per ACL 17-91, and update current procedures.

POLICY

Child Protection Hotline (CPH)

All reports alleging suspected child abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation, including those on an existing referral and/or case, are directed to the Child Protection Hotline (CPH) for initial assessment.  Reports alleging specific acts or indicators of suspected child abuse, neglect and/or exploitation shall be entered as a referral in the Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS) regardless whether they are ultimately evaluated out.

 

Although the CPH receives the majority of its reports and information from agencies and persons outside DCFS, any employee of DCFS who, within the scope of their employment, observes or receives a report of abuse, neglect, caregiver absence/incapacity or exploitation from a source other than the CPH, must contact the CPH to make a report.

 

The CPH operates twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week and can be reached at the following telephone numbers: 1 (800) 540-4000 within California, 1 (213) 639-4500 outside California, and 1 (800) 272-6699 TDD.

In addition to receiving reports of suspected abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, the CPH receives questions and provides consultation and referrals to the mandated reporters and the public on child safety concerns.  The CPH also receives requests for after-hours emergency medical consent for dependent children, after-hours reports of DCFS dependent runaways, and re-entry (AB-12) requests for youth who wish to re-enter foster care.

CPH Screening

The CPH must identify the types of calls that constitute reports of alleged child abuse or neglect and determine the appropriate response and response priority pursuant to statute and with the support of the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Tools.  The purpose of the SDM Hotline Tools is to assess whether a report meets the statutory threshold for an in-person investigatory response, and if so, how quickly (e.g., Immediate Response/Response Within 5-Days) a social worker needs to respond. If a report does not require an in-person response, the SDM Hotline Tools help screeners determine whether a community response is more appropriate.

 

CPH screeners should use the SDM Hotline tool definitions from the beginning of any call made to the CPH. This can help ensure that:

 

Additionally, the CPH has to evaluate and appropriately document cases of Commercial Sexual ExploitationConduct involving matter depicting a minor engaged in obscene acts in violation of Section 311.2 (preparing, selling, or distributing obscene matter) or subdivision (a) of Section 311.4 (employment of minor to perform obscene acts). Any person who knowingly promotes, aids or assists, employs, uses, persuades, induces or coerces a child, or any person responsible for a child's welfare who knowingly permits or encourages a child to engage in, or assist others to engage in, prostitution or a live performance involving obscene sexual conduct or to either pose or model alone or with others for the purpose of preparing a film, photograph, negative, slide, drawing, painting or other pictorial depiction involving obscene sexual conduct. 'Person responsible for a child's welfare' means a parent, guardian, foster parent, or a licensed administrator, or employee of a public or private residential home, residential school, or other residential institution. Any person who depicts a child in, or who knowingly develops, duplicates, prints, or exchanges, any film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide in which a child is engaged in an act of obscene, sexual conduct, except for those activities by law enforcement and prosecution agencies and other persons described in subdivisions (c) and (e) of Section 311.3.' of Children (CSEC), child fatality and near-fatality, critical incident, Safely Surrendered Babies, and unaccompanied undocumented minors.

 

For any new concern or incident on an open referral or case, immediate consultation and review of the new incident must occur between the assigned CSW and assigned SCSW to determine if it is a new allegation on an open referral/case, as opposed to a safety reassessment issue, prior to contacting the CPH. The CPH will generate a referral when a new allegation or conduct on an open referral/case refers specifically to a new incident of abuse or neglect that meets the standard in the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). All new allegations on open cases must be reported to the CPH by regional staff for tracking and cross-reporting purposes. New allegations on an existing (open) referral should be reported to the CPH via email if made within thirty (30) days of the referral date. New allegations reported after thirty (30) days of the referral date must be reported to CPH as a new ER referral.

Importance of Consultation During Decision Making

DCFS recognizes the importance of accurate and equitable response and response priority decisions to ensure safety and equity for all children and families and the impact of these decisions on families across child protective services intervention. Therefore, CPH CSWs and SCSWs make consistent use of staff engagement/consultation using the structure of the SDM hotline tools and the principles of the Integrated Core Practice Model to examine and protect against implicit bias and to improve the accuracy of these critical decisions.

Information and Referral (I & R) Calls

When a report is made that does not fall within the purview of child welfare (i.e., it is not an incident of alleged abuse or neglect), it is screened and referred to other agencies for potential services, as appropriate. These calls are not required to be evaluated for risk and are referred to by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) as “Information and Referral” (“I & R”) calls.

 

Calls requesting information and referral to community services are specifically defined by CDSS’ Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31 sections 30-051 and ACL 17-91. To protect the privacy of these individuals, the personal information and nature of the inquiry of these callers is not maintained in CWS/CMS. These reports are documented, but are not entered into CWS/CMS as referrals.



Some examples of I & R calls include, but are not limited to:

 

In Los Angeles County, I & R calls are categorized as Information Calls, Information to CSW calls and Consultation Calls (or “consults”), or they may be referred to the Community Prevention Linkages (CPL) program.

Information Calls

The CPH also receives calls in which callers request information, but have no concerns regarding a child. These are known as “Information Calls,” and while they do not necessarily require documentation, they may be entered into the Automated Referral Entry System (ARES). ARES is a web-based application that allows the CPH to track calls it receives that are not entered as referrals or Information to CSW calls in CWS/CMS. It provides an online single data entry screen for quicker assessments of child safety. It also provides the CPH the ability to capture data on calls that do not result in referrals in CWS/CMS for reporting purposes, as well as for justifying allocation of resources.

Information to CSW Calls

Calls that relate to an existing open case or referral, but that do not allege new allegations of abuse or neglect, are documented on an “Information to CSW” form and sent to the assigned regional office. They are also attached to the open case and/or referral in CWS/CMS.

Consultation Calls

A consultation or “consult” is a call that involves a child; however, it is assessed as not meeting the legal definition of abuse and/or neglect pursuant to statute and with the support of the SDM Tools. These calls may be entered into ARES.

Evaluating Out Referrals

According to the CDSS MPP (MPP) section 31-101, counties shall respond to all calls that allege a child is endangered by abuse, neglect, or exploitation by conducting an in-person investigation or assessing the referral by completing an ER protocol. If upon completion of the ER protocol, the social worker determines an in-person investigation is not required, the county may evaluate out the referral with or without a referral to another community agency, as appropriate. If the family on an evaluated out referral requires supports, the CPH CSW may consider referring the family for Prevention and Aftercare’s (P&A) Path 1/Community Prevention Linkages (CPL) program.

 

An evaluated out referral can be a referral that alleges harm or risk of harm to a child, but does not meet the criteria for investigation by DCFS. Referrals that do not meet the criteria for an in-person response will be evaluated out at the CPH after being entered as a referral in CWS/CMS.  Below is a list of allegations that do not constitute appropriate child abuse referrals and should be evaluated out.  If the CPH CSW determines that an in-person investigation is not required but that the services of another community agency are appropriate, the CPH CSW should refer the reporter to that agency.  In some instances they should be directed to other agencies, [e.g. law enforcement and Student Attendance Review Boards (SARBs)] for investigation. 

Evaluated out referrals generally include:

 

Please refer to procedures for Evaluating Out a Referral for a list of specific examples of referrals that may be evaluated out by CPH.

 

For information on evaluating out referrals by regional staff, please refer to Changing Response Times, Evaluating Out, and Re-Mapping Emergency Response Referrals by Regional Staff.

Companion Referrals

Companion referrals will be created by the CPH only when there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse and/or neglect regarding the other children living in the home, who are not siblings to the victims. If there is no reasonable suspicion and a companion referral is not created, it will be documented in the Screener Narrative that there is more than one (1) family living in the home. If the ER CSW investigates a referral and has reasonable suspicion of child abuse and/or neglect on a separate family living in the home, the ER CSW is to call the CPH for initial assessment of the allegation(s).

Overflows/Call Backs

At times, the volume of calls received by the CPH exceeds the number of CSWs available to receive those calls.  When this occurs, a CPH SCSW or designee monitors the Hotline queue screen for incoming calls and utilizes the Call Back Automated System (CBAS) to enter non-emergent call information. The call information in CBAS is then assessed by a CPH CSW for processing and the caller may be contacted by the CPH CSW if additional information is needed to address the concern. When a caller reports imminent danger, calls are transferred to CPH CSWs for immediate investigation. CBAS is also used as a backup system during CWS/CMS downtime.

Classifying Allegations

Allegations of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation fall under specific criminal and/or civil codes.  These codes define categories of parental and/or custodial behaviors that allow for the involvement of protective services agencies such as DCFS.  For harm or injury to a child to be classified as abuse, neglect or exploitation pursuant to Penal Code sections 11165.1 through 11165.6, the parent, legal guardian, or out-of-home caregiver must have been alleged to have:

 

Although many of the reports to the CPH contain specific allegations within the general categories, some reports do not present clear, current allegations. The SDM Hotline tool and definitions should be used to help determine if specific reported concerns meet the criteria for an in-person response, in addition to whether or not an override of the screening decision from evaluate out (no criteria marked) to in-person (local protocol) is appropriate.

Cross-Reporting

DCFS must cross report every known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement and the district attorney’s office immediately or as soon as practically possible after receiving the information by way of the Suspected Child AbuseThe non-accidental commission of injuries against a person. In the case of a child, the term refers specifically to the non-accidental commission of injuries against the child by or allowed by a parent(s)/guardian(s) or other person(s). The term also includes emotional, physical, severe physical, and sexual abuse as defined in CDSS MPP Section 31-002(c)(9)(D). Report (SCAR), and also shall send, fax, or electronically transmit a written report within thirty-six (36) hours of receiving the information concerning the incident to any agency to which it makes a telephone report. This includes all allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect, emotional abuse, and exploitation.

 

Allegations of general neglect and caretaker absence/incapacity do not require a cross-report. 

 

DCFS is required to report allegations regarding children abused in licensed foster or day care to Community Care Licensing (CCL) within twenty-four (24) hours of the receipt of new allegations. Penal Code 11166.1 (b) also requires a report to the child’s attorney within thirty-six (36) hours whenever a child in protective custody is known or suspected to have been the victim of child abuse or neglect. Several other circumstances also require DCFS to notify a child’s attorney within specific time frames. Refer to Communication with Attorneys, County Counsel, and Non-DCFS Staff for more information.

 

E-SCARS (Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Reporting System) is used to electronically transmit SCARs (Suspected Child Abuse Reports) to law enforcement agencies and the district attorney’s office.  E-SCARS is a web-based system that allows rapid and secure electronic transmission and receipt of SCARs between the agencies.

Drug Exposed Infants

When an infant is born with signs suggestive of prenatal drug or alcohol exposure or the mother has had a positive toxicology screen, medical staff must order a toxicology screen for the infant.  The medical staff completes a “Newborn Risk Assessment” form as soon as reasonably possible, but prior to the infant’s discharge from the hospital.  When the assessment leads to a reasonable suspicion of abuse and/or neglect, the medical staff make a report to the CPH.

 

A positive toxicology report at the time of delivery of an infant is not in and of itself a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect; however, any indication of maternal substance abuse shall lead to an assessment of the needs of the mother and child. If other factors are present that indicate risk to a child, a report should also be made to the CPH.

 

After completion of the report to the CPH, the medical staff make a report to the CPH.  The medical staff completes a SS 8572 SCAR and promptly sends it along with the Newborn Risk Assessment to the CPH .

Back to Policy

PROCEDURE

Screening Calls

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Identify yourself to the caller by providing your full name. 

 

  1. Ask the caller to provide a callback number to be used in case the call gets disconnected.

 

  1. Determine if the caller is a mandated reporter, and if so gather all relevant identifying information including job title and agency affiliation, if any.
 
  1. Elicit the purpose of the telephone call from the caller by allowing the caller to explain why they contacted the CPH and ask pertinent follow-up questions guided by the structure and definitions of the SDM Hotline Tool screening criteria and local policy related to screening calls.
    1. Continue gathering relevant information from the caller until you are able to assess whether the details provided by the caller constitute a report of alleged child abuse or neglect (see number 5 below), an Information call (or Information to CSW call), or a Consult (see number 6 below). 
  1. If you determine that a referral is warranted:
  1. Elicit all information known to the caller that is necessary to complete the ID and reporter pages, as well as client, allegation and school notebooks of the referral in CWS/CMS.
  1. Elicit all pertinent information known to the caller that would enable you to accurately answer the questions contained in the SDM Hotline Tool screening criteria and arrive at a response decision.
  1. If there is more than one family living in the home, determine if a companion referral will be created.

    1. Create a companion referral for the other family in the home only if it is reasonable to suspect that abuse or neglect will extend to that family.

 

  1. In cases where a referral is not warranted, elicit all information known to caller that is necessary to determine if the call constitutes an Information Call, an Information to CSW or a Consult, to fully complete the fields of the Information to CSW/Consultation form or ARES record. This includes cases where:
  1. The telephone inquiry involves no allegations.
  1. The CPH consults with, and/or provides information, resources or referrals to the public.
  1. The CPH receives information on an open referral/case (e.g., child ran away, call from relatives concerning a DCFS-supervised child not involving abuse, neglect and/or exploitation).
  1. The CPH receives an inquiry from a non-related legal guardian requesting financial assistance.

  1. Consult with CPH SCSW as needed.

Back to Procedure

 

Overflows/Call Backs

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon reviewing the CBAS call information, create a referral, Information to CSW, or consultation. If appropriate per CPH procedures, contact the caller.
  1. If the reporter is not available, leave a message instructing them to call the CPH and ask for you by name. 
  2. Repeat up to three (3) times during your shift; on the third message, instruct the reporter to call 1-800-540-4000 (the central CPH number) to complete their report.  Document the date/time of each attempt and the outcome of each attempt in the CBAS record (e.g., phone busy, no answer, left voicemail, etc.).

 

  1. If a referral is created, document the number of the referral created during the callback in the CBAS record.

 

  1. If the call back is not completed before the end of your shift, search the CWS/CMS database to see if another CPH CSW generated the referral in the interim period; if a referral is found, document the referral number in the CBAS record.

CPH SCSW (or designee) Responsibilities 

  1. Determine if the overflow call concerns a child who is in imminent danger by asking the caller: 
  1. Are you reporting an incident of abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child?
  1. How old is the youngest child?
  1. How is the child in danger at the time of this call?
  1. Where is the child, his or her parents/caregivers and the alleged perpetrators at this time?

 

  1. If a CSW becomes available to take a referral with an immediate response time during the call, transfer the call to the CSW. 

 

  1. If a CSW is not available and the child is assessed to be in imminent danger, generate a referral by hand or off-line, or ask a CPH CSW who is working on a consultation call, Information to CSW call, or referral with an evaluated-out or five-day response time to generate the referral. 

 

  1. If a CSW is not available and the child is not assessed to be in imminent danger, utilize the CBAS. 

 

  1. If the CPH CSW is unable to complete a CBAS the call back before the end of their shift, and additional information is needed to address the concern, call back attempts should be monitored until attempts have been made for three (3) consecutive days.
  1. Any attempts to contact the caller should be documented in the CBAS record.
  1. After efforts have been made for three consecutive days, the CBAS call back must be reviewed to determine if efforts to re-contact the caller should be discontinued, or if any other action should be taken.

Back to Procedure

Information Calls

In addition to receiving reports of suspected child abuse and/or neglect, the CPH and Emergency Response Command Post (ERCP) Call Center receives questions and requests for information and referrals to the community when there are no concerns regarding a child.

 

Some examples of information calls include, but are not limited to:

 

All DCFS case records are confidential, irrespective of whether a petition has been filed in Dependency Court. Confidential reporting party (RP) information is never shared with the court/judge. The CPH must maintain the confidentiality of case records. The CPH is not authorized to share confidential information and may only release the name and phone number of the assigned CSW on an open referral and/or case to a requesting party.

 

Medical or mental health service providers may contact CPH during non-business hours. A provider may have access to juvenile case information (psychological, medical, dental records) when a service provider is providing treatment to that child. A provider may not have access to any child abuse reports, attorney-client privileged information, or any information regarding unrelated children contained in any case record documentation. The Department of Mental Health is entitled to all case record information.

 

The identity of the reporting party always remains confidential under CANRA. The only exception is when cross-reporting information to another Child Protective Service Agency (e.g. law enforcement).

 

Information known to DCFS may be shared with law enforcement or other investigative bodies (e.g. Coroner’s Office) for the purpose of assisting with an investigation, only after the identity of the caller has been verified.

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the caller is requesting information, and a response can be provided quickly, provide the requested information. If the caller is requesting the name and phone number of an assigned CSW or is requesting information on community resources during times of high call volume, the call should be transferred to the information line (ext. 6792).

 

  1. If a request for information is received on a holiday or after regular business hours and can be answered quickly, provide the requested information. 

 

  1. If law enforcement calls to report information about a crime as a result of their investigation and requests a referral number, generate a referral per established policy and procedure. 

 

  1. If the caller is requesting a consult, provide consultation.

 

  1. If the caller wants to provide information to an assigned CSW and is not reporting a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, collect the information provided; also provide the caller with the name and telephone number of the assigned CSW.

  2. If a caller wishes to be considered as a possible placement resource for a child who is currently under DCFS supervision:
  1. Ask the caller to provide the following information in order to conduct a search on CWS/CMS:
  1. Search the CWS/CMS database to determine if the child/ren in question are in DCFS care.  If the child is currently not under DCFS care, inform the caller of that fact.  If the child is currently under the care of DCFS, determine from the client’s abstract, the identity and location of the assigned CSW.
  1. Provide the caller only with the name and telephone number of the current CSW. 
  1. Ask the caller to provide the following information:
  1. Complete a CSW Information/Consultation Call form, document the information the caller provided, and forward via email to the assigned CSW and assigned SCSW.

Back to Procedure

Information to CSW Calls

The CPH also receives calls that relate to an existing open case or referral but do not allege new allegations of abuse or neglect. These calls may include:

 

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the caller is relaying information on an open case or referral that does not constitute a new allegation, document the information on an “Information to CSW” form.
  2. Send the Information to CSW form to the assigned CSW and assigned SCSW.
  3. Attach the Information to CSW form to the CWS/CMS referral and/or case.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the Information to CSW form for accuracy and completeness.
  2. If no corrective action is required, approve the Information to CSW form by signing and dating the form. 

Consultation Calls

The following examples may generally fall within the CDSS definition of I & R, but in LA County these are referred to as consultation calls or “consults.” They include, but are not limited to:

 

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the caller is requesting a consult, provide consultation.
  2. Review SDM criteria.
  3. Assess for any service needs. If a referral to P&A is needed, follow procedures for Creating a Referral and Evaluating Out a Referral below.
  4. Consult SCSW.
  5. Document in ARES as appropriate.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the consultation for accuracy and completeness.
  2. If no corrective action is required, approve the consultation form by signing and dating the form.
  3. If the consultation has been documented in ARES, approve the ARES record.

Creating a Referral

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Conduct an initial assessment of the reported concerns to determine whether or not the details provided by the report constitute an Information/Consult call or a report of alleged child abuse or neglect.
  1. Conduct a search of CWS/CMS to determine if there is history associated with the household members. If history is found, determine the referral and/or case status of the child/ren.
  2. Determine if the allegation(s) were previously reported. Create a new referral when:
  1. Determine whether the allegations in the report require an in-person response, using the structure and definitions of the SDM Hotline screening tool and existing procedures.
  1. Determine to which regional office the referral or Information to CSW should be mapped, even if the referral will be evaluated out or assigned to ERCP to make the initial in-person response after hours.
  2. If there is more than one family living in the home, create separate referrals for children with different mothers:

    .

  3. Attach clients to referral or complete the Client Notebook for all:
  1. Children in the family.
  1. In the event the Client Abstract indicates a child with a Finalized Adoption:
  2. For any newly created post-adoptive client, indicate they were previously adopted in the Previously Adopted field on the Demographics Page of their new Client Notebook.
  1. Parents and/or caregivers, including absent parents
  1. Identified perpetrators

 

  1. Complete the ID and Reporter pages.
  1. Create the Allegation Notebook.
  1. Enter the Screener Narrative Template into the Screener Narrative.
  1. Describe the incident:

  2. Location of incident

  3. Date and time of incident

  4. Witnesses to the incident
  5. Document the following information and factors:

 

  1. If the allegations are cross-reportable:
  1. Determine which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over the child abuse incident.
  1. Create a SCAR and cross-report to that agency.
  1. Cross-report to that agency per existing procedures.

  1. Create the Emergency Response Document.
  2. Assign to the appropriate inbox caseload.
  3. Review the referral documentation for accuracy.
  4. Create separate referrals for children with different mothers.
  1. Print out the referral (Emergency Response Document and Screener Narrative).  Complete and attach the Live Call Sheet and any additional necessary attachments (e.g. placement home report, CalSAWSCalifornia Statewide Automated Welfare System. The California Statewide Automated Welfare System (CalSAWS) Project and Consortium is the automated welfare business process in California which will serve all 58 California counties by 2023. The implementation of CalSAWS will merge California’s most recent three (3) county-level consortia welfare systems and will support six (6) core programs: California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) known as CalFresh in California, Medi-Cal, Foster Care, Refugee Assistance, and County Medical Services. It encompasses the following functions: eligibility determination, benefit computation, benefit delivery, case management and information management. CalSAWS is replacing the LEADER Replacement System (LRS), which replaced LEADER (Los Angeles Eligibility, Automated Determination, Evaluation, and Reporting) and sixteen (16) other legacy systems in 2016. printout, Hospital Medical Summary, etc.) and forward to the SCSW for approval.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the referral and the SDM Hotline tool used by the CSW for thoroughness and accuracy.
  1. Confirm that the CSW completed the referral correctly.  If not, take action to correct the referral.
  1. Approve the referral electronically and manually.
  2. Assign the referral as appropriate.

 

  1. Review the CSW Information/Consultation Call Form or ARES record for quality control.
    1. If no allegations are involved, approve the form and place the form in the designated basket for filing or approve the ARES record.
    2. If there is an open referral/case, approve the form and return to the CPH CSW to send an email to the assigned CSW/SCSW.
    3. If the referral involves a companion referral, ensure that there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect regarding the other children in the home.
  2. Consult with unit CSWs on a regular basis.

Back to Procedure

Classifying Allegations

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Determine the appropriate abuse allegation(s) and select all applicable allegations in the Allegation Notebook. 

Back to Procedure

Evaluating Out a Referral

Below is a list of allegations that do not constitute appropriate child abuse referrals and should be evaluated out. 

 

 

If there is an identified need for community services, the CPH may refer to Path 1 (the SDM system’s path decision for Evaluate Out) for Prevention & Aftercare (P&A) services through the CPL program

 

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Inform the reporting party that there will be no in-person response to the referral.  Provide mandated reporters with the referral number.

 

  1. Create a referral.  Complete the Screener Narrative and Emergency Response Document.  Clearly document the reason for evaluating out the referral.

 

  1. If applicable, provide the caller with appropriate referrals to community agencies or advise the caller that a community agency will attempt to contact the family to offer resources and/or supportive services.

 

  1. If applicable, cross-report to all required agencies per existing procedures. 

 

  1. If the referral is evaluated out and the child on the referral has an open DCFS case or referral, also generate an Info to CSW and attach to an email notifying the assigned CSW/SCSW of the Info to CSW. 

 

  1. If the referral is a secondary referral describing the same incident of abuse and allegation that is currently being (or has been) investigated, evaluate out the referral and generate an Info to CSW to the assigned CSW/SCSW, if applicable.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the referral.  If correct, approve the referral as Evaluated Out.  If not, take corrective action before approving the referral.
  2. Consult with CSW on a regular basis.

Cross-Reporting

DCFS must cross-report every known or suspected incident of child abuse, exploitation and/or severe neglect to law enforcement and the district attorney’s office immediately or as soon as practically possible after receiving the information by way of the Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR).  Do not report allegations of general neglect or caretaker absence.  DCFS is also required to cross-report allegations regarding children abused in licensed foster or day care to Community Care Licensing (CCL) within twenty-four (24) hours of the receipt of new allegations.

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Generate a Suspected Child Abuse Report (SCAR-SS 8572) for each new referral except when the only allegations contained in the referral are caregiver absence/incapacity and/or general neglect.  Indicate in the Cross-Report Notebook of CWS/CMS the date and time of the report.  See SCAR Creation Walkthrough.
    1. The SCAR should be sent to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the location of the incident.
    1. Use a complete address, if known.
    2. An intersection/cross streets or partial address may be used if the correct law enforcement agency is able to be determined.
    3. If the location of incident is unknown, use the victim’s current residential address, last known residential address within the past twelve (12) months in CWS/CMS, or placement address (if there is an open case).
    4. Do not use the address of the reporting party, DPSS office addresses, institutions (e.g. Juvenile Hall), or the CPH, unless the incident occurred at one of these locations.
    1. If the referral is a secondary referral, the SCAR should be sent to the same law enforcement agency as the primary referral, unless otherwise specified by law enforcement.
    2. To maintain continuity, related referral SCARs should be sent to the same law enforcement agency as the primary referral.
    3. If two (2) or more incidents of abuse occurred at two (2) or more locations, generate one (1) SCAR using the address of the location of incident of the most recent incident.
    4. Incidents being investigated by California Highway Patrol (CHP) should be cross-reported to the investigating CHP office.

 

  1. To create a SCAR for law enforcement outside of Los Angeles County, but within the State of California, follow the steps to generate a SCAR. In the CWS/CMS cross report notebook, change the county from Los Angeles to the county where the law enforcement office that has jurisdiction is located.  Once the correct county is selected, select the appropriate law enforcement office.  Indicate in the Cross-Report Notebook of CWS/CMS the date and time of the report, title, name, fax number and telephone number of the law enforcement official contacted, and the name of the law enforcement agency.
    1. Contact the law enforcement agency outside of Los Angeles County to obtain their fax number.
    2. Include the name of the law enforcement agency outside of Los Angeles County, agency phone number, and agency fax number on the Live Call Sheet.

 

  1. To create a SCAR for law enforcement outside of the State of California, contact the out-of-state law enforcement agency to obtain their address and fax number.
    1. Follow the steps to generate a SCAR and when in the CWS/CMS Cross-Report Notebook, check off “cross-report not sent” box and the “Out of State Law Enforcement” box. 
    2. In the "Out of State Law Enforcement" box, type the following information of the out-of state law enforcement agency in a continuous manner (i.e., do not hit “enter” to create a new line): agency name, address, phone number, and fax number.  This out-of-state information will populate in the SCAR.
    3. Include the name of the out-of-state law enforcement agency, law enforcement agency phone number, and the law enforcement agency fax number on the Live Call Sheet.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the SCAR for accuracy.  If necessary take corrective action, either by making the necessary corrections or by returning the referral to the CSW for SCAR correction. 

 

  1. If the allegations meet criteria for cross reporting to Community Care Licensing, Probation, or any other governmental agency, ensure that the appropriate boxes are marked on the Live Call Sheet and that the Screener Alert accurately reflects cross-reporting to all necessary agencies. 

Back to Procedure

Taking a Domestic Violence Referral

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Inquire whether domestic violence has occurred recently and, if so, how recent and how severe. Use open ended questions to elicit behavioral details from the caller.

 

  1. Assess for the current risk of domestic violence.

 

  1. Complete the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Hotline Tool to determine an appropriate response time. An Immediate Response is required if “yes” is answered to either of the following questions:

 

  1. Enter any Safety Alerts in the Screener Alert and the Screener Narrative and document findings in the Screener Narrative.

Drug Exposed Infants

When a Newborn Risk Assessment determines child safety concerns due to prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol, medical staff will make a report to the CPH. 

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon receiving a report of an infant prenatally exposed to drugs and/or alcohol, and an in-person response is necessary, create a referral

 

  1. Ask the caller to identify the level of risk based on the Newborn Risk Assessment and document that information on the Screener Narrative.  If the caller has not completed the Newborn Risk Assessment, instruct the caller to do so.

 

  1. Give the caller the referral number and ask them to write that referral number across the top of the Newborn Risk Assessment form before faxing the form to the Child Protection Hotline.

 

  1. Create an allegation of general neglect; name the mother as the perpetrator and the infant as the victim.

 

  1. Complete the DCFS 410, Hospital Medical Summary.  Write the referral number on the upper right side of the DCFS 410.

 

  1. In the Screener Alert and at the top of the Screener Narrative, include the following heading:  “PRENATALLY SUBSTANCE EXPOSED INFANT.”  In the Screener Narrative, include any statements reported by the caller to have been made by the mother regarding her history of drug use.

 

  1. Include information regarding the identities and location of any siblings to the infant.

 

  1. Utilize the SDM Hotline Tool to assist with the appropriate response determination. The following factors are to be taken into consideration when determining the response time:  discharge date of mother and baby, if mother has other children in the home and if mother is homeless.  Consult with the SCSW if an override is necessary on the SDM Hotline Tool.

 

  1. Select “Prenatal Drugs/Alcohol Exposure” in the Special Projects Page of the referral.

CPH SCSW Responsibilities

  1. If the referral was created correctly, approve and assign the referral. If not, return the referral to the CSW for corrective action.

Back to Procedure

APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Attachments

SCAR Creation (Walkthrough)

E-SCARS Support Protocol

FYI 20-05, Adding Allegations to an Existing Referral

Instructions for Entering Occurrence Information in CWS/CMS

Forms

CWS/CMS

Emergency Response Document

SS8572, Suspected Child Abuse Report

Screener Narrative

LA Kids

CSW Information/Consultation Call Form

Hard Copy

Daily Phone Logs

Referenced Policy Guides

0050-501.10, Child Abuse and NeglectThe failure to provide a person with necessary care and protection. In the case of a child, the term refers to the failure of a parent(s)/guardian(s) or caretaker(s) to provide the care and protection necessary for the child's healthy growth and development. Neglect occurs when children are physically or psychologically endangered. The term includes both severe and general neglect as defined by Penal Code Section 11165.2 and medically neglected infants as described in 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1340.15(b). Reporting Act (CANRA)

0050-503.15, Response Times to Referrals

0050-504.05, Referral Assignment Criteria

0050-504.25, Reporting and Recording Child Fatalities and Near Fatalities

0070-515.10, Changing Response Times, Evaluating Out, and Re-Mapping Emergency Response Referrals by Regional Staff

0070-520.10, Safely Surrendered BabiesPhysical custody of a minor 72 hours old or younger accepted by a person from a parent of the minor, who the person believes in good faith is the parent of the minor, with the specific intent and promise of effecting the safe surrender of the child. (SSB)

0070-537.10, Assessment of Domestic ViolenceWelfare and Institutions Code Section 18291 (a) states that 'Domestic violence' means abuse committed against an adult or minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship. Penal Code Section 13700 (b) states that "Domestic violence" means abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, "cohabitant" means two unrelated adult persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of relationship. Factors that may determine whether persons are cohabiting include, but are not limited to, (1) sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters, (2) sharing of income or expenses, (3) joint use or ownership of property, (4) whether the parties hold themselves out as husband and wife, (5) the continuity of the relationship, and (6) the length of the relationship.

0070-548.00, Community-Based Resources

0070-548.24, Structured Decision Making (SDM)

0100-535.65, Extended Foster Care: Re-Entry of NonminorFormer Dependents

0500-501.20, Release of Confidential DCFS Case Record Information

0600-501.15, Consent for Emergency Medical Care

1200-500.86, Immigration Options for Undocumented Children and Families

Statutes

All County Letter (ACL) 03-61 – CWS/CMS Data Entry.

 

ACL 17-91 – Clarification on Documenting Calls To the Child Welfare Hotline That Do Not Require an In-Person Investigation.

 

ACL 17-92 – Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act of 2016 Amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

 

CDSS Manual, Division 31 Regulation, Section 30-051 – Defines “Information and Referral” services.

 

CDSS Manual, Division 31 Regulation, Section 31-105.115 – Lists factors to consider when determining whether an in-person investigation is necessary

 

CDSS Manual, Division 31 Regulation, Section 31-105.116 – Lists factors to evaluate out a referral

 

Penal Code (PEN) Section 11165.13 – States, in part, that any indication of maternal substance abuse shall lead to an assessment of the child and mother.

 

PEN Section 11165.15 – States that the fact that a child is homeless or is an unaccompanied minor is not, in and of itself, a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect.

 

PEN Section 11165.1 – Defines sexual abuse

 

PEN Section 11165.2 – Defines neglect

 

PEN Section 11165.3 – Defines willful harming, injuring or endangering of a child

 

PEN Section 11165.4 – Defines unlawful corporal punishment

 

PEN Section 11165.5 – Defines abuse or neglect

 

PEN Section 11165.6 – Defines child abuse or neglect

 

PEN Section 11166.1(b) – Requires that an employee of an agency specified in Section 11165.9 shall, within thirty-six (36) hours, notify the minor’s attorney whenever a child in protective custody is known or reasonably suspected to have been the victim of child abuse or neglect.

 

PEN Section 11166(j) – Sets forth reporting responsibilities for CPS to cross-report to law enforcement.

 

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16504(a) – States that any child reported to the county welfare department to be endangered by abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall be eligible for initial intake and evaluation of risk services.

 

WIC Section 309 (b) – This statute is the basis for authorization of a “Hospital Hold“.

 

WIC Section 369 (a-g) – States, in part, when social workers can authorize medical treatment for a dependent child.