Family Urgent Response System (FURS)
0100-502.50 | Revision Date: 12/28/2023

Overview

This policy guide provides information and guidance on the implementation of the Family Urgent Response System (FURS).

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 03/31/22 version to include expansions to the definition for eligibility to receive services from the Family Urgent Response System (FURS) for caregivers, and children or youth, as described in Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16526, originally enacted through Section 107 of Senate Bill (SB) 80 (Statute of 2019), and amended by Assembly Bill (AB) 79 (Statute of 2020).

POLICY

Family Urgent Response System (FURS)

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) provides a 24/7/365 hotline for current and former DCFS and Probation foster youth (under the age of 21) and their caregivers to receive immediate, trauma-informed services aimed at preventing placement moves, reducing reliance on law enforcement and hospitalizations, promoting healing as a family unit, improving retention of current foster caregivers and promoting stability for youth. These calls do not go through the Child Protection Hotline (CPH), and referrals generated by FURS are not child abuse and neglect referrals.

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) calls may progress thorough one (1) or two (2) steps, depending on the needs and wishes of the caller:

  1. Cal-FURS counselors at the State (1-833-939-FURS/1-833-939-3877) are available 24/7/365 (phone, text, and chat) to provide free placement stabilization services to eligible current or former foster children/youth/NMDs and their caregivers by telephone.
  2. Local, county-level mobile response teams are available 24/7/365 to provide in-person placement stabilization services when requested by the caller or the Cal-FURS counselor.

FURS is a coordinated, statewide, regional, and county-level system designed to provide collaborative and timely state-level, phone-based response and county-level, in-home, in-person mobile response during situations of instability. FURS focuses on preserving the relationship of the caregiver and the child/youth/NMD. This is done by utilizing developmentally appropriate relationship conflict management and resolution skills to stabilize the living situation, mitigate the distress of the caregiver or child/youth/NMD, connect the caregiver and child/youth/NMD to the existing array of local services, and promote a healthy and healing environment for children, youth, NMD, and families.

County mobile response teams are encouraged to coordinate with existing providers or professionals involved with a caller but should not delay or decline to provide immediate in-person support on that basis. While children, youth, NMDs, and caregivers should be encouraged to contact any current treatment provider, social worker, or probation officer for support during situations of instability, it is not a requirement that callers do so before receiving a mobile response through FURS. There may be times when professionals are not available, or cannot be quickly reached, or when a child, youth, NMD, or caregiver may have chosen to reach out to the FURS Statewide Hotline for a different type of support. Additionally, FURS can be a resource for social workers, probation officers, or treatment providers who may need immediate help in supporting their families, children, youth, or NMDs during situations of instability. When responding to a child, youth, NMD, or caregiver, the mobile response team can educate them about reaching out to their existing providers or resources, including their Child and Family Team (CFT) safety plan and crisis plan information, during future situations of instability.

FURS Goals

FURS goals include:

  • Prevent and/or reduce placement disruptions and maintain children/youth/NMDs in their current living situations, when it is safe to do so.
  • Prevent and/or reduce unnecessary 911 calls or law enforcement involvement and the criminalization of traumatized children/youth/NMDs.
  • Prevent and/or reduce unnecessary hospitalization and placement into congregate care.
  • Reduce the rate of re-entry of former foster youth back into out-of-home care.
  • Improve child and family outcomes.
  • Improve trust and preserve the relationship between the child and their caregiver.
  • Coordinate existing teams and their services, and in the event that services need to be added, provide the appropriate linkage for long-term support.
  • Provide children/youth/NMDs and caregivers with the tools that they need to heal from trauma and to thrive.
  • Improve retention of current resource families.
  • Promote stability for youth in foster care, including youth in extended foster care.
  • Connect children/youth/NMDs and their caregivers to ongoing resources in their communities.

FURS Definitions

“Caregiver” is defined as a person responsible for meeting the daily care needs of a current or former foster child, youth, or NMD and whom is entrusted with providing a loving and supportive environment for the child/youth/NMD to promote their healing from trauma.

“Current or former foster youth” includes:

  • A child or youth adjudicated a dependent or ward of the court (under Welfare and Institution Code sections 300, 601, or 602) and who is served by a county child welfare agency or probation department.
  • A child or youth who exited foster care for any reason, including, but not limited to, reunification, guardianship, adoption, emancipation, or, for example, having begun in state jurisdiction and later transferring to tribal jurisdiction, remains eligible to receive services until they attain 21 years of age.
  • A child or youth who is the subject of a voluntary placement agreement as defined in subdivision (p) of Section 11400, a child or youth who is placed in foster care and is the subject of a petition filed pursuant to Section 300, and a child or youth placed in California pursuant to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

“In-home” means where the child/youth/NMD and caregiver are located, preferably in the home, or at some other mutually agreeable location.

“Instability” means a situation of emotional tension or interpersonal conflict between a caregiver and a child/youth/NMD that may threaten their relationship and may lead to a disruption in the current living situation.

“Mobile response” means the provision of in-person, flexible, responsive, and supportive services where the caregiver and child/youth/NMD are located to provide them with support and prevent and/or reduce the need for 911 calls or contacts with law enforcement.

State-Level Process

  1. The FURS Statewide Hotline (also known as Cal-FURS) receives a call, text, or chat from a child, youth, or NMD, currently or formerly in care, or their caregiver.
  2. The FURS Statewide Hotline attempts de-escalation, mediation, and conflict resolution by telephone, and assesses risk and safety.
  3. If a local, county-level, mobile response team is determined necessary (based on whether the caller desires in-person support after receiving phone support), The FURS Statewide Hotline determines the in-person response time and conducts a warm hand off via a 3-way call with the local county single point-of-contact.
  4. The county-level point-of-contact identifies response team members, as needed from DCFS, Department of Mental Health (DMH), and other partners (including peer partners), to provide in-person support via the FURS Placement Stabilization Team.

Response Times for County-Level Mobile Response Teams

Urgent = within one (1) hour, but not to exceed three (3) hours in extenuating circumstances

Non-Urgent = same-day response within 24 hours

The purpose of a FURS mobile response is to stabilize the situation and/or placement and not to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect. However, if during the course of the service, there is a reasonable suspicion of abuse/neglect, a report to the Child Protection Hotline (CPH) will be made.

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Mobile Response Team in Los Angeles County

FURS Coordinators from DCFS staff the County’s dedicated 24/7/365 FURS line and help facilitate warm handoffs, serving as the single point of contact between the statewide hotline, callers, and Los Angeles County’s Mobile Response Team, otherwise known as the FURS Placement Stabilization Team.

The FURS Coordinator serves as the team lead/point person of the FURS Placement Stabilization Team and is a DCFS social worker who has had training on Building a Trauma Responsive and Resilience Strengthening Child Welfare System; Crisis Intervention; De-escalation and Conflict Resolution; Placement Stabilization; Motivational Interviewing; Cultural Competency and Humility; and Implicit Bias.

FURS Placement Stabilization Teams are assembled and dispatched upon each call to the county-level FURS line based on the needs, concerns, and desired timeframes presented by callers, so the composition of each responding Team may differ with every call. The Team can be as few as two members, but can include as many as necessary to offer the needed support and guidance without overwhelming the child/youth/NMD or caregiver.

Members of the FURS Placement Stabilization Team serve as supports to eligible caregivers and children/youth/NMD alike to help defuse immediate situations and engage both in conversations and in interchanges to help identify any underlying needs affecting the family. The FURS Placement Stabilization Team strives to engage the family in a culturally sensitive manner and provide support through de-escalation and mediation efforts, with the overall goal of keeping the family intact. Team members are encouraged to practice the Core Practice Model approach and use opportunities to assess/evaluate family strengths and supports against any unmet needs that can be targeted and addressed through referrals to services, treatments, or Team follow-up.

Team members provide clinical and/or peer support if the FURS Coordinator identifies such needs during the warm hand off. The Team also involves clinical and non-clinical/or youth and parent peer supports as appropriate during the point of in-person contact, or if follow-up with linkages is needed.

Please note that although the CPH receives the majority of its referrals from agencies and persons outside of DCFS, any DCFS employee who, within the scope of their employment, observes, or has a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, or receives a report of abuse, neglect, caregiver absence/incapacity or exploitation from a source other than the CPH, must immediately contact the CPH to make a referral. This also applies to a case that is currently open to that CSW, or during a FURS response.

PROCEDURE

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Referrals Received by the LA County FURS Line from the State’s Cal-FURS Counselors

FURS Coordinator/Placement Stabilization Team Responsibilities

  1. Utilize and gather additional information provided by the caller and the Cal-Furs Counselors during the warm hand-off to determine who will be part of the responding FURS Placement Stabilization Team.
  2. Explore who of the following may be included: peer partners, paraprofessionals, and/or non-clinical staff.
  3. In consultation with DMH, consider the information provided during the warm hand-off to determine which provider(s) to engage within the Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) network of care.
  4. If information is unknown, inquire of the caller whether there is an existing treatment team for the child/youth/NMD and whether the caller would like that team to respond. Work with DMH to verify enrollment in an intensive mental health program.
    1. If enrolled in mental health services and the caller requests a response from the existing treatment provider, request assistance from DMH to mobilize the existing provider as part of the FURS Placement Stabilization Team.
    2. If the child/youth/NMD or caregiver does not have a treatment provider, the caller opts not to have the existing provider respond, and/or the treatment provider is unable to respond, work with DMH to identify an appropriate clinician/provider to dispatch as part of the responding Team.
  5. During the response, identify any needs or other areas that can be bolstered through additional supports and services offered in the community, by community-based organizations, and/or through County-contracted providers.
    1. If the response was on an open DCFS or Probation case, inform the case-carrying Children’s Social Worker (CSW) and/or Deputy Probation Officer to follow-up with the CFT. Coordinate with the CSW and/or Probation Officer to ensure any needed linkages are made.
    2. If the response was on a closed DCFS or Probation case, the FURS TEAM will provide supportive services and linkages to the youth and family, as necessary.
  6. Identify areas where additional short-term guidance, in-person support, and/or linkages/referrals for the family can be provided.

Coordination with Existing Providers

FURS Coordinator/Placement Stabilization Team Responsibilities

  1. Inquire of the caller, review the statewide CWS/CMS system, and/or consult with DMH and Probation to determine whether there is an assigned social worker, assigned Probation Officer, existing CFT, placement preservation strategy, and/or existing behavioral health treatment plan/provider.
  2. Attempt to involve the case-carrying staff and CFT members to the degree that the caller wishes for them to be involved, while taking into account the availability of those providers.
  3. After the in-person response by the FURS Stabilization Team is completed, provide completed FURS Summary Report to the case-carrying staff and/or current treatment providers, if applicable. Information that is otherwise confidential should not be shared. Provide follow-up communication and service coordination if necessary by email or telephone.
  4. If there is an open case, send the FURS Summary Report to the current attorney for the minor.

Providing Follow-up Services

FURS Coordinator/Placement Stabilization Team Responsibilities

  1. Transition youth and families from mobile response to ongoing services, and attempt to involve current providers in the response, as appropriate, while not delaying the response.
  2. Document efforts; provide completed forms and contact notes to current case-carrying staff, treatment providers, and case-carrying Probation Officers; and participate in additional follow-up communication and service coordination with providers by email or telephone as necessary.
  3. If the family does not have current services in place, link the family to necessary services through community-based organizations or County-contracted providers as appropriate.

Data Tracking and Reporting

FURS Coordinator/Placement Stabilization Team Responsibilities

  1. Complete the FURS Call Alert form.
  2. Complete the FURS Summary Report for each call made to the Los Angeles County FURS line and provide the form to the statewide hotline via electronic submission.
    1. If there is open jurisdiction in another county, send the FURS Summary Report to the appropriate county.
    2. If there is an open case with Probation, send the FURS Summary Report to the current Probation Officer.
    3. If there is an open case with Los Angeles County DCFS, send the FURS Summary Report to the current Continuing Services (CS) CSW/SCSW.
    4. If there is an open case, send the FURS Summary Report to the current attorney for the minor.
    5. Any information, that is shared, must comply with confidentiality laws. Information that is confidential cannot be shared.
  3. Update the FURS Log.
  4. Complete the Cal-FURS Follow-up Data Request form located in FURS in-box.
APPROVALS
None
HELPFUL LINKS

Attachments

CDSS Family Urgent Response System Website

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Outreach Materials

Forms

LA Kids

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Assignment Sheet

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Pre-Alert Sheet

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Sample Log

Family Urgent Response System (FURS) Summary Report

REFERENCED POLICY GUIDES

0050-501.10, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA)

0070-516.10, Assessing a Child s Development Referring to a Regional Center

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

0070-547.14, Expedited Joint Response Protocol with the DMH Field Response Operations (FRO)

0080-506.10, Identifying and Arranging Appropriate Services for Children and Families0600-500.00, Medical Hubs

0600-501.09, Consent for Mental Health and/or Developmental Assessments and Services

0600-505.20, Hospitalization of and Discharge Planning for DCFS-Supervised Children

STATUTES AND OTHER MANDATES

All County Letter (ACL) 23-01 – Expansion and Clarification of Definition for Eligibility for the Family Urgent Response System for Caregivers and Children or Youth

All County Letter (ACL) NO. 20-89 - Implementation Requirements to Establish a Family Urgent Response System (Furs) for Foster Caregivers and Children or Youth

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC)16526 – provides definitions for the Family Urgent Response System

WIC 16527 – provides guidelines to county departments with regards to establishing a statewide hotline as the entry point for the Family Urgent Response System, which shall be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to calls from a caregiver or current or former foster child or youth during moments of instability.

WIC 16529 - describes how the county-based Family Urgent Response System shall meet the requirements