Emergency Response Referrals Alleging Abuse of Children Who Are Under DCFS Supervision and Residing in the Home of a Parent
0070-548.06 | Revision Date: 1/4/2021


This policy reviews the process of investigating child abuse/neglect allegations for children who are residing in the home of a parent and the steps the investigating CSW must follow to prepare for, conduct, document and close the referral.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 01/26/18 version to include information regarding staff assessing for personal safety and developing a personal safety plan prior to making any face-to-face contact.


Assessment of the Child

Child abuse investigations must be completed within thirty (30) calendar days of the initial face-to-face contact. The purpose of an initial Emergency Response Investigation and Emergency Response Assessment is to determine:

  • If Child Abuse/Neglect occurred.
  • If the child’s immediate safety is a concern and, if it is, the interventions that will ensure the child’s protection while keeping the child within the family or with family members (e.g., kinship care or subsidized guardianship), if at all possible.
  • If there is a risk of future maltreatment and the level of that risk.
  • If continuing DCFS services are needed to address any effects of child abuse/neglect and to reduce the risk of future maltreatment.

Each child’s safety and well-being should be assessed based upon the following variables, and must be documented before closing a referral:

  • Health/physical condition (including bruises and body marks)
  • Condition of the home
  • Child vulnerability
  • Family and/or environmental stress
  • Parenting skills (including discipline used by parents or caregivers)
  • Parent’s substance abuse
  • Availability of day care
  • Pertinent medical/psychological/police reports (including attempts to obtain these reports)
  • Pertinent Collateral Contacts (including attempts to contact collateral contacts)
  • Ability of the family to provide for the safety and well-being of the child
  • Impact of any mental health problems (child and/or parent)
  • Family’s support system
  • Ability of the family to meet the child’s immediate needs for supervision, food, clothing, medical and mental health care
  • Impact of any domestic violence in the home

Investigating CSWs may obtain confidential medical and mental health information relevant to an incident of suspected child abuse or neglect without submitting a written request per the authority granted by Civil Code 56.10 & 56.104. 

All allegations are to be investigated thoroughly. The CSW should assess if any other safety threats are present and, if necessary, add allegations to the referral. When concluding the investigation, it must be determined if child abuse or neglect has occurred. If child welfare services are not necessary, the referral should be closed as appropriate.

Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)

The establishment of a Child Abuse MDT allows provider agencies (e.g. social services, children services, health services, mental health services, probation, law enforcement, and school) to share confidential information in order to:

  • Investigate reports of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect made pursuant to the CANRA.
  • For the purpose of child welfare agencies making a detention determination.

A Child Abuse MDT only requires two or more persons trained in the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect, who are qualified to provide services.  The team may include the CSW and at least one of the following: (this is not an exhaustive list of people that may participate in an MDT)

  • Psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or other trained counseling personnel.
  • Police officers or other law enforcement agents.
  • Medical personnel with sufficient training to provide health services.
  • Social services workers with experience or training in child abuse prevention.
  • Any public or private school teacher, administrative officer, supervisor of child welfare attendance, or certified pupil personnel employee.

Members of a MDT can:

  • Disclose/exchange confidential information & writings telephonically and electronically (given adequate verification of the identity of the MDT member involved in that disclosure or exchange of information).
  • Exchange information during a thirty (30) day period, or longer if documented good cause exists, following a report of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Information must be believed to be generally relevant o the prevention, identification, or treatment of child abuse. Any discussion related to the disclosure or exchange of information or writings during the MDT meeting is confidential and notwithstanding any other provision of law, testimony concerning that discussion is not admissible in any criminal, civil, or juvenile court proceeding.

Reporting a Child Death to the Child Protection Hotline (CPH)

CPH must be notified when a child on an open case or referral has died even if child abuse or neglect is not suspected.

Individualized Investigation Narrative

For the Individualized Investigation Narrative, the following steps are required:

  • The CSW completes the initial interview with the referred family
  • The CSW and SCSW have an in-person work plan case conference to discuss investigative components, next steps, and the rationale for those steps.
  • Additional conferences may be required as the investigation develops
  • The SCSW documents the work plan by entering a contact in CWS/CMS
  • The CSW completes the investigation and documents the findings and the rationale on the Individualized Investigation Narrative document

Investigating a New Referral In an Open Investigation or Case

All new referrals on a child in an open investigation or case must be responded to with the same protocols as any other referral and avoid impacting an ongoing case worker’s relationship with the family or caregiver. The investigation must be conducted by an ER/ERCP CSW. For families serviced by vertical case planning such as the American Indian Unit, best practice indicates a separate CSW other than the case carrying CSW will conduct the investigation in order to have an unbiased, independent assessment of the allegation.

The decision to remove a child from the home shall be made in consultation with the affected case carrying CSW and the ER CSW investigating the referral and with the approval of his/her SCSW. If there is a disagreement the matter shall be resolved through the chain of command. If there is no resolution, the ARA of the ER CSW will make the final determination. It will be the responsibility of the case carrying CSW to place the child, unless the child was removed by ERCP, in which case the ERCP CSW is responsible for placing the child.

In situations where the case carrying worker has taken the child into temporary custody, they will be responsible for completing the SDM Safety and Risk Assessment.

Personal Safety Assessment and Plan

Prior to any face-to-face contact, CSWs are to assess for their personal safety by reviewing all CWS/CMS case files/documents for any safety warnings/alerts. If any personal safety concerns are identified, CSWs are to consult with their SCSW/Manager and a personal safety plan is to be developed and documented in CWS/CMS prior to making any face-to-face contact.

Collateral Contacts

CSWs are to contact pertinent collateral contacts that will help in understanding the nature and extent of the alleged child abuse/neglect, and in assessing the risk to and safety of the child.

In situations where referral closure is delayed due to unsuccessful attempts to make contact with a collateral contact/agency or the delayed receipt of a written report, and based on the information gathered so far the allegation(s) in the referral appears to be unfounded and/or inconclusive and the child appears to be safe, the referral may be closed in consultation with the SCSW if all of the following exist:

  • No SDM safety threats were identified or if identified, it has been clearly documented how they were resolved.
  • All attempts to contact and/or requests to obtain written reports are clearly documented in the Contact Notebook.

The Investigation Narrative clearly documents how the allegations were concluded based on the evidence obtained and interviews completed throughout the investigation


Generating a Referral for the Investigation

CPH CSW Responsibilities

  1. Assign the Emergency Response referral to the appropriate office.
  2. Send the case-carrying CSW and their SCSW an “Information to CSW” form that notifies that CSW of the referral and what office was assigned to respond to the referral.
  3. Attach any prior Child Welfare History regarding the parent to the referral.
  4. If a referral is received regarding a child under DCFS supervision residing outside of LA County, assign the referral as follows:

Location of Child’s Placement

Office Assignment

San Bernardino County


Riverside County


Orange County

Santa Fe Springs

Ventura County

W. San Fernando Valley or Santa Clarita

Kern County


San Diego County


Preparing for the Investigation

ER/ERCP CSW Responsibilities

  1. Complete a CWS/CMS search on the parents and alleged perpetrators, including any history of a parent as a child and out-of-county history. Review the prior history of any referral(s)/case(s) that involves any of the family member and/or alleged perpetrator(s) listed on the current referral on CWS/CMS.
    1. Consult with the SCSW to determine if a CWS/CMS search should be conducted on other adults residing in the home.
    2. If necessary, use the following tools to complete a thorough CWS/CMS search.
      1. Instructions for Accessing Out-of-County Referral/Case Records on CWS/CMS
      2. CWS/CMS Search Tips for Child Abuse Referrals
      3. Contact your COA for State read access
  2. If there was prior history:
    1. Review the results of the investigation;
    2. Assess the family’s current level of compliance with DCFS services/court orders on CWS/CMS;
    3. Review a comprehensive Investigation Narrative may suffice as review of a referral;
    4. Use the professional judgment of the SCSW/CSW to determine if additional review of the referral/case is necessary.
  3. Contact the assigned CSW/SCSW for the child (ren) and inform them of the allegations on the referral.
    1. Gather any relevant background information, including the family’s current level of compliance with DCFS services/court orders and what services the family is receiving.
    2. Document any contact/attempted contacted with CSW/SCSW in the Contact Notebook.
  4. Contact the reporting party/mandated reporter, if known, to verify and obtain additional information that can be used to assess the validity of the allegations and the well-being of each child.  Document all contacts and attempted contacts in the Contact Notebook.  Contact with the reporting party or mandated reporter will count as a pertinent collateral contact.
    1. If the reporting party/mandated reporter is not reached after three (3) attempts and there is an address on file, send a certified letter to the reporting party/mandated reporter explaining the attempts made and request a telephone response to the letter. 
      • If the referral has remained open due to no contact with the reporting party/mandated reporter, once the return receipt for the certified letter is received, the referral may be closed as long as nothing else is pending.
    2. If necessary, request the assistance of SCSW or supportive staff that can assist in contacting the reporting party/mandated reporter.
  5. Review the Family & Children’s Index (FCI) Report for collateral information.
    1. If the report indicates that the family had contact with other public agencies, all the public agencies listed on the report must be contacted in the early stages of the referral investigation process to avoid delaying the referral’s closing. All contacts and attempted contacts with the agencies should be documented in the Contact Notebook.
    2. Referrals cannot be closed or promoted to a case until after all FCI hits are followed up on, with the following exceptions:

      Type of FCI Hit

      Reason for Exception

      DCFS Matches

      • Information can be downloaded from CWS/CMS or WCMIS/CIS records.

      Hits that have been followed-up in a prior DCFS investigation

      • Information should be documented in that case record or in CWS/CMS.  Include documentation that the record was reviewed.
      • Care should be taken that the current FCI hit is an exact record match to the one referenced in prior referral history.

      FCI hits which occurred prior to a prior referral

      • Information can be obtained from the CWS/CMS or hardcopy record from the previous investigation.
      • Any subsequent FCI hits after the last prior referral are subject to further investigation or must be cleared.

      FCI hits from LASD or LAPD (or other law enforcement agencies)

      • Prior referral folder & CWS/CMS contains a full documentation of the outcome of the incident (potentially including police reports).
      • Check E-SCARS to confirm the law enforcement disposition is the same as stated in the prior referral investigation.

      DMH hits

      • Information is available via a current therapist, can be obtained via parental consent or via an MDT outside of the DMH centralized FCI unit.
    3. If FCI participating county departments or partner agencies do not respond within 5 business days from the time the request was made, contact the DCFS FCI leads at FCILead@dcfs.lacounty.gov with the following information:
      1. FCI record number,
      2. Name of participating department, and
      3. Participating agency contact name.
        • Do not close the referral without receiving a response from the FCI leads. A response should be received within 3 business days.
  6. Evaluate whether to use Law Enforcement to conduct a concurrent investigation and/or to assist in the investigation, particularly on the following referrals:
    • Physical abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Severe neglect
    • Domestic violence
    • Any other type of referral when law enforcement and DCFS mutually agree.
  7. Consult with the Public Health Nurse (PHN) within three (3) days of receiving a referral regarding:
    1. Chronic medical conditions such as:
      • Diabetes
      • Asthma
      • Seizures
      • Any condition that requires use of equipment, daily medications or treatment
    2. Serious medical conditions such as:
      • Shaken Baby Syndrome
      • Failure to thrive
      • Allegation of severe neglect
      • Allegation of general neglect where it is determined that a child has known or suspected medical or developmental condition
      • Any hospitalized child
  8. Prior to closing the referral, the CSW and PHN will determine and complete the most appropriate course of action, which may include, but is not limited to: a joint CSW/PHN visit, the need to obtain additional medical information, and/or a referral to a specialty provider or agency.
    1. If the child has a recent HUB or other medical professional evaluation, a mandatory consultation with the PHN is required. The PHN will assess and determine the need for a joint visit based on the information obtained from the recent medical evaluation.
    2. If there is a difference in opinion between CSW and PHN on the need for a joint visit, consult the SCSW and PHN Supervisor.
    3. If a child meets the MCMS Intake Criteria, consult with Medical Case Management Services (MCMS) Unit.
  9. For referrals with mental health concerns, in consultation with SCSW, determine if it is necessary to consult with the co-located Department of Mental Health (DMH) professionals and/or the Coordinated Services Action Team (CSAT) team leads Service Linkage Specialist (SLS) or Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT) Coordinator representing the Bureau of the Medical Director. Document this consultation in the Contact Notebook. 
    • If an Upfront Assessment has been completed as part of the current referral investigation, this consultation is not necessary.
    • ERCP does not have co-located DMH staff. A follow-up to the region will be made to complete this consultation.

ER/ERCP SCSW Responsibilities

  1. If a referral is received which is likely to result in the removal of the child, contact the SCSW of the effected CSW to alert them of the possibility of the removal and to have the CSW or duty CSW be available for the possible placement of the child.
  2. If a referral is received which is likely to result in the ER CSW being in the field beyond their normal shift and there is a likelihood that removal of the child will be necessary, contact the ERCP to alert and prepare them for the possibility of assisting the ER CSW.

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Notify the child’s attorney within thirty-six (36) hours of receipt of the referral using the DCFS 5402.

Personal Safety Assessment and Plan

ER/ERCP and Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Prior to any face-to-face contacts, CSWs are to assess for their personal safety by reviewing all CWS/CMS case files/documents for any safety warnings or alerts. If CSWs have any concerns for their personal safety, they are to consult with their SCSW or Manager prior to making any face-to-face contact and a personal safety plan is to be developed and documented in CWS/CMS. Personal safety plans may include, but are not limited to the following:
    • Requesting law enforcement assistance (i.e. call logs, escort, running CACI/CLETs for criminal history, use ERIS/ERIIS, etc.)
    • Pairing up with a co-worker, using a “Buddy System” to conduct face-to-face contacts
  2. All identified safety concerns (i.e. threats/acts of violence by a client, gang activity, etc.) are to be documented in the CWS/CMS ID tab under the Case Alert Field in the following format:


“The minor’s mother made verbal threats to CSW, see contact dated 01/01/2020 for more details.”

SCSW/Manager Responsibilities

  1. Address CSW’s personal safety concerns and, together with the staff, develop a personal safety plan
  2. Ensure that a personal safety plan is identified, developed, and documented in CWS/CMS prior to CSWs making any face-to-face contact.
  3. Verify that all identified safety concerns are documented in CWS/CMS in the Case Alert field.

ARA Responsibilities

  1. Submit a Security Incident Report (SIR) as outlined in Management Directive 95-06

Conducting the Investigation

ER/ERCP CSW Responsibilities

Investigations should include an assessment of all safety threats present beyond the allegations on the referral. If discovered, new allegations must be added to the referral. All interviews, as well as attempts to obtain information related to the investigation, must be documented in detail in the Contact Notebook.

  1. If exigent circumstances do not exist, consent from the parent/legal guardian is required to enter a home and/or interview a child.
    1. If the parent/legal guardian does not provide consent, obtain an investigative warrant.
  2. Conduct interviews with all the children and adults residing in the home, even if they are not listed on the referral.
    1. If there is more than one family living in the home, consult with SCSW to determine if a referral needs to be generated for the other children.
    2. If the child on the referral has died, notify CPH even if child abuse or neglect is not suspected.
  3. Account for the whereabouts of all children associated with the family.
    1. Interview alleged victim(s) and all the children in the family regarding the allegation(s) individually and privately.
      1. Document if the children were interviewed individually and privately, and if not, why.
  4. Provide and complete the following with the parent/guardian:
    1. Provide the parents with DCFS 2457, Civil Rights Information Form and the Civil Rights Pub 13 Pamphlet.
    2. Have the parents sign and date form DCFS 485, Primary Language Designation Form and ensure that their communication needs are met.
      1. If a parent provides his/her own interpreter, complete the DCFS 74A, Interpreter Usage and Consent for Release of Information.
      2. If a child (under 18 years of age) is used as an interpreter, document the circumstances requiring temporary use of the interpreter in the case record of the Contact Notebook.
      3. If bilingual services were provided, document the method used in the Contact Notebook.
    3. If information from outside agencies needs to be obtained and/or verified, have the parent/legal guardian complete the Applicant’s Authorization for Release of Information (ABCDM 228).
  5. Interview each parent/legal guardian with access to the child separately and in person regarding the allegations.  A phone interview is acceptable only when the parent resides outside of LA County. 
    • If conducting a concurrent investigation with law enforcement, collaborate to coordinate interviews of the alleged perpetrators. Defer to their judgment on matters pertaining to forensic interviewing.
    • There may be situations where interviewing the alleged perpetrator(s) would not be within the scope of your investigation.  Example: if the alleged perpetrator is a neighbor rather than the child’s parent, law enforcement would conduct the interview.
    • Comply and document if asked not to interview the perpetrator directly.
    • Inform the alleged perpetrator in private:
      • Of the allegation(s) against him/her.
      • That if any of the allegations of abuse, severe neglect or exploitation are found to be substantiated, this information will be reported to the Department of Justice.
      • That allegations of general neglect and allegations that are concluded as unfounded or inconclusive are not reported to the Department of Justice.
  6. Case conference with SCSW to inform him/her of information obtained and to determine the next steps in the investigation.
    • Additional conferences may be required as the investigation develops.
  7. Complete the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Safety Plan when:
    1. A safety threat is identified; and
    2. After consulting with SCSW and it is determined that the child can safely remain in the home with appropriate short-term interventions to mitigate the safety threat(s).
  8. Refer the family/child to the following services/programs where appropriate:
  9. If the child is in Imminent Danger of Serious bodily injury and there is not enough time to obtain a removal order and the only protecting intervention possible is removal, obtain SCSW approval and take the child into temporary custody.
  10. If new allegations are discovered, consult with the SCSW to determine if the allegations should be added to the referral. All allegations other than general neglect should be reported to the Child Protection Hotline (CPH).
    1. Inform the CPH of the open referral so the new allegation can be added to the existing referral.
      • The CPH will cross-report any applicable allegations to required agencies by sending the SCAR-SS 8572.
    2. Create “At risk, sibling abused” allegations for any siblings for whom safety is investigated but no allegations currently exist.
  11. If safety threats exist, and there are mental health concerns within a referral but an upfront assessment has not been conducted, consult with the co-located Department of Mental Health professionals and/or the CSAT team leads (SLS/MAT Coordinator) representing the Bureau of the Medical Director.
  12. Make all reasonable efforts to contact all collateral contacts that may have knowledge of the child’s alleged abuse or neglect. Document all contacts and attempted contacts in the Contact Notebook.

    Examples of pertinent collateral contacts include:

    Child aged 0-59 months

    At least one professional (licensed day care provider or pediatrician)

    School Age Child

    Educational professionals

    Referrals with open cases or history of open cases or referrals

    Current or previous CSW(s)

    Other examples

    Neighbors, Teachers, Physicians, Therapists, Parole Officers, Probation, etc.

    • Ask about:
    • The care and well-being of each child.
    • Concerns about the child’s safety.
    • Caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs.
    • Other information about the caregiver to assess the validity of the allegations.
    • Do not reveal details of the allegations. CSWs should indicate that they are checking on the “safety and well-being of the children”.
  13. Request all available written reports, photos and other documents that will assist in determining whether child abuse or neglect occurred. Document all attempts to obtain these reports in the Contact Notebook.

    Situation encountered

    What to Do

    Allegation of:

    Physical Abuse,

    Sexual Abuse, and/or

    Severe Neglect

    • Contact Law Enforcement to get an update and/or outcome of their investigation.
    • Request Police Report
    • If available, retrieve information from E-SCARS.

    Allegation of:

    Domestic Violence,

    Physical Abuse,

    Sexual Abuse,

    Substance Abuse,

    Exploitation, and/or

    Severe Neglect

    • Request a CLETS on the parents, any adult residing in the home, and any person who has significant contact with the child.

    Allegation of: Emotional Abuse and/or

    General Neglect

    • If appropriate, initiate a criminal background check and determine if the results indicate any risk to the child.

    Child aged 14-17 residing in home may have criminal record

    • Request a Juvenile Automated Index (JAI) Clearance.

    Document the results of any criminal check (including dismissal, conviction or release) on the Demographics Page of the Client Notebook in the Arrests section. If necessary consult with County Counsel on the interpretation of the criminal history.

Documenting the Investigation

ER/ERCP CSW Responsibilities

  1. Complete the SDM Safety Assessment within two (2) business days of initial contact for all referrals.
  2. If there is an allegation of physical abuse, or the CSW comes to suspect it, complete the DCFS 550, Body Chart.
  3. Document the following in the Contact Notebook:
    • Observations and facts gathered from all sources and witnesses.
    • All contacts and attempted contacts made with the reporting party and pertinent collateral contacts.
    • Relevant information from all available written reports such as police reports, Up-Front Assessments, medical evaluations, probation/parole reports and mental health history on children and/or parents.
      • Document all efforts to obtain these documents and the results of these efforts.
      • File these reports and photos in the case file.
    • All referrals to outside agencies or services provided to the family.
  4. Update all fields of the referral, including information in the Client Notebook
    • Ensure that the correct perpetrator and/or perpetrator type is listed in the ID page and that the Occurrence Information is correct.
    • If the family unit names or state ID numbers need to be corrected, submit a DCFS 264 to the Search, Attach, Assign and Merge (SAAMs) Unit and provide them with any requested information.
    • Apply any Alcohol/Drug/Mental Health (ADMH) issues discovered during the investigation to the parent that is an alleged perpetrator.
    • If applicable, complete the Near Fatality grid on the Demographics page of the Client Notebook.
  5. If applicable, conduct a subsequent FCI search for all additional household members or persons associated with the home discovered upon the initial contact.
  6. Complete the SDM Risk Reassessment before closing the referral or promoting the referral to a case.

Concluding the Investigation

Part of the investigation is the assessment of the family.  Determine if and what services are needed to ameliorate or prevent child abuse and neglect.  For referrals regarding children with an open DCFS case and receiving Family Maintenance Services, the current case plan for the family should be evaluated to ensure that the family is receiving all services available to ameliorate or prevent child abuse, e.g. Family Preservation.  If necessary, link the family to additional support services and/or ensure the family is following through with services currently in place.

ER/ERCP CSW Responsibilities

  1. Ensure the appropriate disposition is made for each allegation. Each allegation must have one of the following dispositions:
    • Unfounded
    • Substantiated
    • Inconclusive
  2. Clearly document, in the Contact Notebook, the reasons why and how the allegations were concluded, including detailing the manner in which any safety threats were resolved.
  3. For each allegation, enter the "Start Date" and "End Date" "Number of Occurrences" and the "Location of the Incident." Refer to Instructions for Entering Occurrence Information in CWS/CMS.
  4. If a safety threat was previously identified and has since been resolved, complete a second SDM Safety Assessment to indicate that safety threat(s) no longer exists.
    • Do not close a referral if there are current safety threats, even if it is covered by a safety plan.
    • The safety threats must be resolved to close the referral.
  5. Copy and paste the Individualized Investigation Narrative Template on LA Kids to create the Investigation Narrative on CWS/CMS.  Since the Narrative Template is used by all offices, do not revise template itself. When using the Investigation Narrative:
    1. Clearly document how the allegations were concluded.
    2. Document the results of the review of previous case histories, including contact with previous CSW/SCSW.
    3. Document the parent’s compliance or lack thereof with the recommendations of prior referrals or cases.
      • Evaluate the pattern of compliance as a risk factor regarding the current allegations.
    4. If the child was detained, cross-reference the completed Detention Report with “See Detention Report dated [insert date]” in the appropriate areas.
    5. The ‘Assessment of all types of abuse and neglect findings’ section must be completed in the Investigation Narrative as it is not covered in the Detention Report.
    6. If applicable, include a description of the elements of any Safety Plan that was implemented.
    7. Include all relevant information contained in police reports, medical reports, therapist reports, etc.
    8. Cross-reference the Contact Notebook where details of the investigation are to be documented.
  6. If a child is detained from a parent and Family Reunification Services will be provided to a non-custodial parent, the SDM Initial Non-Removal Assessment must be completed on the household of the non-custodial parent.
  7. Select a Client Disposition for each child in the referral and obtain SCSW approval.
    • Ensure all children named on the referral with open cases are attached to the referral.  This will allow the ongoing services CSW to view contact information and open all referrals associated to their case.
  8. If the disposition of any allegation, other than general neglect, is substantiated and there is an identified perpetrator:
    1. Complete and print the BCIA 8583 in CWS/CMS for each known or suspected abuser and mail it to DOJ.
    2. Complete the SOC 832 and mail it along with the SOC 833 and SOC 834 to each known or suspected abuser within five (5) business days of the submission of the BCIA 8583 to DOJ.
  9. If Law Enforcement was involved, inform the detective or officer of the disposition of the referral. Document this contact in the Contact Notebook.
  10. Inform the mandated reporter of the results of the investigation and any action the agency is taking with regard to the child/family.  Document the method used to inform the mandated reporter in CWS/CMS.
  11. If the referral was assigned to an ER CSW, notify the case-carrying CSW of the results of the investigation.
    • If any of the children are under the supervision of Probation, contact Probation and notify them of the results of the investigation, including the need to find a placement for the child.
  12. If the referral is being closed, notify the parents of the closure with the DCFS 196.
  13. Submit the following documentation to the SCSW for approval:
    • Referral
    • SDM Safety Assessment
    • SDM Risk Assessments
    • SDM Safety Plan
  14. Referrals regarding a parent with prior history of five (5) or more referrals or two (2) prior referrals within the past twelve (12) months must also be reviewed by the ARA prior to closure.

ER/ERCP SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Case conference with CSW to determine the investigative work plan for the referral and the rationale for those steps.
    • Document the work plan in the Contact Notebook.
    • As the investigation develops, case conference as needed.
  2. Activate/Deactivate applicable Safety Alerts confirmed by the ER CSW in the ID page of the Client Management Section.
    • Reasons for Safety Alert Activation include:
      • Dangerous Animal on Premise
      • Firearms in Home
      • Hostile
      • Aggressive Client
      • Threat of Assault on Staff Member
      • Remote or Isolated Location
      • Severe Mental Health Status
      • Gang Affiliation or Gang Activity
      • Dangerous Environment
      • Other
  3. Review the online referral in its entirety including all prior referrals/cases and when appropriate, hard copy case files.
  4. If a referral is being submitted for closure:
    1. Approve the disposition for each child in CWS/CMS and the SDM tool(s) and Safety Plan.
      • ARA approval is required whenever closing a referral regarding an out-of-home caregiver when there is a prior history of five or more referrals or there were two prior referrals in the past 12 months.
    2. Approve the disposition of the referral as “Pending Higher Approval” and if applicable, submit to the ARA for review and approval.
    3. If necessary, return the referral to the CSW for corrective action.

ER/ERCP ARA Responsibilities

  1. Review the online referral in its entirety including all prior referrals/cases and when appropriate, hard copy case files.
  2. Approve the decision by:
    1. Signing and dating the Investigation Narrative
    2. Approving the Client Disposition for the child on CWS/CMS
    3. Returning the referral and supporting reports to the SCSW
  3. If necessary, return the referral to the SCSW for corrective action.

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the child is under court supervision, notify the child’s attorney within thirty-six (36) hours of the receipt of the referral and the results of the investigation using the DCFS 5402.
  2. If the child is replaced, notify the court and the child’s attorney of the child’s replacement by completing the DCFS 5402.
  3. If the child was allowed to remain in the home and a SDM Safety Plan was put in place during the investigation, make a face-to-face contact with the child and parent(s) within five (5) business days of the referral being closed to follow up with well-being and safety of the child.  The SDM Safety Plan is no longer in effect once the referral is closed.

SCSW Approval

  • Disposition for each child in CWS/CMS
  • SDM tools
  • Take a child into temporary custody

ARA Approval

  • To close a referral regarding a parent with prior history of five (5) or more referrals or two (2) prior referrals within the past twelve (12) months and there is no current open case
  • To release a child back to the parents after a child has been taken into temporary custody by DCFS or Law Enforcement


Accessing Out-of-County Referral/Case Records on CWS/CMS

CWS/CMS Search Tips for Child Abuse Referrals

Instructions for Entering Occurrence Information in CWS/CMS



Contact Notebook

Emergency Response Document

Investigation Narrative

Response to Mandated Reporter

BCIA 8583, Child Abuse or Severe Neglect Indexing Form

SOC 832, Notice of Child Abuse Central Index Listing

SOC 833, Grievance Procedures for Challenging Reference to the Child Abuse Central Index

SOC 834, Request for Grievance Hearing

LA Kids

Civil Rights Pub 13 Pamphlet

CSW Information/Consultation Call Form

DCFS 74A, Interpreter Usage and Consent for Release of Information

DCFS 196, Notice of Referral Closure

DCFS 264, SAAM Inquiry & Action Request

DCFS 485, Primary Language Designation Form

DCFS 550, Body Chart

DCFS 2457, Civil Rights Information Form

DCFS 5402, Notice to Child’s/NMD’s Attorney

FYI 18-30 DCFS Implementation of the Emergency Response Investigation Service (ERIS)

Individualized Investigation Narrative

MD 95-06 Acts/Threats of Violence Against Employees in the Workplace

SOC 832, Notice of Child Abuse Central Index Listing

SOC 833, Grievance Procedures for Challenging Reference to the Child Abuse Central Index

SOC 834, Request for Grievance Hearing

Security Incident Report (SIR)


0050-504.05, Referral Assignment Criteria

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

0070-501.10, Communication Needs of Non-English Speaking Clients

0070-506.11, Interviewing the Alleged Victim at School for the Purpose Of Investigating a Child Abuse Referral

0070-516.15, Screening and Assessing Children for Mental Health Services and Referral to the Coordinated Services Action Team (CSAT)

0070-529.10, Assessing Allegations of Physical Abuse

0070-531.10, Visual Inspection of Children

0070-547.13, Concurrent Investigation with Law Enforcement

0070-548.00, Community-Based Resources

0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0070-548.10, Investigation, Disposition and Closure of Emergency Response Referrals

0070-548.17, Completion and Submission of the BCIA 8583, Child Abuse or Severe Neglect Indexing Form

0070-548.20, Taking Children into Temporary Custody

0070-548.25, Structured Decision Making (SDM) Safety Plans

0070-559.10, Clearances

0070-560.05, Joint Response Referral

0070-570.10, Obtaining Warrants and/or Removal Orders

0300-503.97, Notice of Replacement Report

0300-506.05, Communication with Attorneys, County Counsel, and Non-DCFS Staff

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions

0600-500.00, Medical Hubs

0600-500.05, Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT) Assessments and Meetings

0600-500.20, Protected Health Information (PHI) and Medical Information

1000-504.10, Case Transfer Criteria and Procedures


California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-125 - Summarizes the protocol for the social worker initially investigating a referral to determine the potential for the existence of any condition(s) which places the child, or any other child in the family or household, at risk and in need of services and which would cause the child to be a person described by Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 300(a) through 300(j).

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-405 - Sets forth the protocols for receiving and responding to child abuse referrals.

Civil Code 56.10(c) - Describes when a provider of health care or a health care service plan may disclose medical information.

Civil Code 56.104 - Authorizes a health care provider or a health care service plan to disclose information relevant to the incident of child abuse or neglect that may be given to an investigator from an agency investigating the case, including the investigation report and other pertinent materials that may be given to the licensing agency.

Penal Code Section 11165.12 - Provides the definitions of unfounded, substantiated and inconclusive reports

Welfare and Institutions Code 18961.7 - Allows the formation of a child abuse multidisciplinary team for the purpose of investigating reports of child abuse or neglect made pursuant to Section 11160, 11166, or 11166.05 of the Penal Code, or for the purpose of child welfare agencies making a detention determination.