Reporting Unhealthy Living Conditions
1200-501.00 | Revision Date: 7/1/2014


This policy guide provides information on reporting unhealthy living conditions to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Office, and the follow ups needed to ensure that the unhealthy living conditions are corrected.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 12/10/12 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.


Unhealthy Living Conditions

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division is responsible for ensuring that residential housing is safe, sanitary, and fit for human habitation.  The Division has enforcement authority for all unincorporated areas of the county and in all cities except for Long Beach, Pasadena, and Vernon. Conditions addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Public nuisance animals
  • Mold in rental housing units
  • Lead exposure hazards (from lead-based paints, etc.)
  • Unmaintained rental properties and/or swimming pools
  • Mosquito breeding
  • Lack of water/hot water
  • Sewage or wastewater discharge
  • Food-borne illness
  • General disease report
  • Insect or rodent infestations
  • Damaged walls, floors, ceiling, roof
  • Clogged, leaking, or inoperable plumbing fixtures
  • Lack of maintenance (heating, lighting, electrical, ventilation, swimming pools)
  • Unsanitary conditions (trash accumulation, animal droppings)

If the unhealthy living condition at a rental property is not caused by the parent/caregiver (i.e. structural damage, mold, etc.), it is the responsibility of the property owner to correct the deficiency. There are two (2) types of unhealthy living conditions:

  • Immediate Impact – Deficiencies that, if not corrected, would have a direct and immediate risk to the health and safety of the child.
  • Potential Impact – Deficiencies that without correction could become a risk to the health and safety of the child.

When a CSW encounters an unhealthy living condition, he/she must make reasonable efforts to help the family explore alternative shelter, such as temporarily moving in with relatives or friends until the unhealthy living condition is resolved.

If a decision is made to allow children to remain in the home, the CSW is responsible for monitoring the situation to ensure that the unhealthy living condition is resolved as soon as possible. Deficiencies must be corrected within thirty (30) days or less. Monitoring should include frequent contact with the family, collaterals, as well as frequent visits to the home.

Notifying Environmental Health (EH)

If a CSW becomes aware that a child(ren) are exposed to unhealthy condition(s), he/she must notify the Environmental Health (EH) Division-District Service Office. EH is available for consultation if the CSW is uncertain as to whether or not a condition(s) is reportable.

Once the EH determines that the condition is reportable, an inspector is assigned to inspect the home. Inspection dates and time may vary depending on the severity of the condition. The EH will give the homeowner a timeframe to correct the deficiencies. Failure to comply with the corrective action may result in penalty fees and/or legal prosecuting.

CSWs must work collaboratively with the EH to correct the unhealthy living condition, including maintaining contact with the EH until the condition is corrected.


Unhealthy Living Condition(s) Discovered During a Child Abuse Investigation or Home Call on an Open Case

Case-Carrying/ER/ERCP CSW Responsibilities

  1. If during the course of the investigation or home call it is determined that the child(ren) residing in the home are, or may be, exposed to unhealthy living conditions:
    1. Assess the level of safety and possible risk to the child(ren) and determine if the child(ren) can remain safely in the home.
      1. Consult with the Public Health Nurse (PHN) as needed.
      2. For an investigation:  If the unhealthy living condition was not addressed in the referral, create an additional allegation in the Allegation Notebook.
    2. If the condition of the home poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of the child(ren), remove the child from the home and complete the following steps, if applicable.
      1. For unhealthy living conditions discovered during a home call on an open case, immediately contact the Child Protection Hotline (CPH) at (800)540-4000 to make a referral. If uncertain whether or not a condition is reportable to Environmental Health, contact the office for consultation.
    3. If it is determined that unhealthy living conditions exist, contact the EH office with jurisdiction over the area in which the condition exists to report the conditions, no later than the next business day.
  2. If the condition of the home poses a potential impact on the health and safety of the child(ren), but is not severe enough to mandate removal, engage with the parent/caregiver to discuss the deficiencies, and determine a plan of action to correct the deficiencies within thirty (30) days or less.
    1. Consult with the SCSW regarding allowing the child(ren) to remain in the home and the action plan for correcting the deficiencies.
    2. Closely monitor the situation to ensure the unhealthy living condition is resolved within the timeframe laid out in the plan of action.
  3. Document all contacts with the parent/caregiver, children, and collaterals, etc., in the Contact Notebook.
  4. At the next follow-up visit or required home visit, determine whether the unhealthy living condition has been corrected.
    1. If the unhealthy living condition(s) has not been corrected, re-assess the situation, remind the parent/caregiver of the deficiencies, and discuss the plan of action to correct the deficiencies.  Also, consult with the SCSW to determine a course of action (e.g. removal of the child(ren), use of voluntary reunification or family maintenance services, etc.).
      1. If a report was made to the EH, contact the EH to verify the corrective action plan and timeframe given to the parent/caregiver by the EH to correct the efficiencies.
    2. If the unhealthy living conditions have been corrected and there are no other safety concerns, close the referral.

SCSW Approval

  • Removing/Leaving the child in the home

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

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions


Penal Code Section 11165.1 – States that all incidents of suspected child abuse or neglect of a child in an out-of-home placement must be reported.