Identifying and Arranging Appropriate Services for Children and Families
0080-506.10 | Revision Date: 8/27/2020


This policy guide reviews services available to children and families who have come to the attention of DCFS due to allegations of abuse or neglect and/or who are currently involved in the Dependency process. It also outlines the eligibility and referral process for the Victims of Crime Program.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 07/10/14 version to include additional information regarding the Intensive Service Foster Care (ISFC) program, formerly known as Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC).


Identification and Selection of Services

Identification and selection of services for a family must be based on the level of safety in the home, assessment of the family’s needs and strengths, and the available community resources. CSWs must work closely with the family and service providers in selecting and/or arranging services deemed necessary and appropriate to best address the needs of the child(ren) and family.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requires CSWs to provide an Indian family with active efforts in casework. Active efforts include providing remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Active efforts include using ICWA placement preferences properly for the child's temporary home, beginning with contacting the family and tribe to begin identifying a home. Refer to Procedural Guide 1200-500.05, Adopting and Servicing Children Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The needs of a family and current service component must be considered when determining the most appropriate services for a child and/or family, based on the SDM Family Strengths and Needs Assessment tool, including:

  • Family Maintenance Services - Services in this phase should be reflective of the level of need, promote the use of both formal and informal community resources and when possible, utilize the least restrictive/least intrusive services that focus on reducing the likelihood of further abuse, neglect or exploitation and family stabilization.
  • Family Reunification Services - Services in this phase should focus on helping families reunite through activities designed to further prevent or remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation while providing time-limited foster care services.
  • Permanent Placement Services - These services must be provided on behalf of children for whom a permanent plan for adoption, legal guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement has been identified. Services should be designed to provide an alternate permanent family structure.

Alternative and/or Community Based Services

Alternative and/or Community Based Services may be available for families in need of preventative services who have referrals found to be inconclusive or substantiated with a low-to-moderate risk. The provision of alternative and/or community based services may include a community-based network of formal and/or informal support services, Child and Family Team Meetings, Up-Front Assessments (UFA) and/or Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT) services.

Investigations and assessments are completed in collaboration with experts in the area of mental health, substance abuse, and/or domestic violence. The assessments actively engage families, assist in the decision-making process, and identify services. They also connect families with treatment and ancillary services in the community in an effort to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement.

Psychotherapy and Counseling Specialties


Psychotherapy, by itself or in combination with drug treatment, is a service that can help people overcome or manage various mental health issues. Other more severe mental illnesses may be treated with a combination of psychotropic drugs and psychotherapy. If a psychotherapist (LCSW, LMFT or Ph.D.) recommends a referral for a psychotropic medication evaluation, the CSW must facilitate a referral to a psychiatrist, as therapists and counselors cannot prescribe psychotropic medication.


When the court orders a client to complete treatment related to substance abuse, domestic violence, and/or sexual abuse, and/or the need to receive these services has been identified, a referral to counseling programs with staff specifically trained in the needed area(s) is required. Types of counseling services include:

  • Individual, family, and/or group therapy
  • Sexual abuse counseling
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Detoxification
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient
  • 12-Step and support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.).

Education and Other Support Services

Family members may benefit from additional support services including, but not limited to:

  • Education services/Life skills training
  • Employment/Training services
  • Financial management, budgeting counseling
  • Legal services (e.g. for divorce, restraining orders, financial, or eviction matters)
  • Parenting/Parent aides/homemaker services
  • Public health/Medical services
  • Respite care/General child care
  • Temporary shelter and housing assistance
  • Transportation services

Services Specific for Children and Youth

Additional services for child and youth may include:

Type of Service

Services Provided / Benefits to Child(ren)

Early Childhood Programs

  • Provide at risk children with time away from stressful home situations, needed structure, limit setting, stimulation, and help develop social skills.

Educational Enrichment

  • Provides programs that enhance children's learning, such as pre-school, Head Start, tutorial services, Independent Living Program, and other school enrichment programs.

Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC)

  • Provides specialty mental health or medical health treatment that is delivered by a FFA and a specialized ISFC Resource Family home.
  • The program is intended to be a short term placement intervention to stabilize youth placed in home settings by providing intensive supports, services, and interventions.
  • Referral must be made through the ISFC program.

Mentoring Services

  • Provides a consistent role model, supportive nurturance and adjunctive assistance through programs such as “Bridges to the Future”, mPLAY, Big-Brothers, Big Sisters, YMCA, etc.

Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC)

  • Provides a highly structured foster home environment.
  • It is available for youth 12-17 years of age with chronic disruptive behavior, severe mental illness and history of multiple high level group home placements.

Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST)

  • Is designed for youth whose behavior places them at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system. (Available in SPA 6 and 7 Regional Offices)

System of Care (SOC)

  • Geared toward youth at risk of a higher level of care placement with a mental health diagnosis (DSM-IV-TR) or who meet medical necessity for a mental health diagnosis, and who are involved with two (2) of the following county agencies:
  • DCFS
  • DMH
  • Probation, and/or
  • School District


  • Is geared towards children/youth in, or at risk of placement in, a RCL 10-14.
  • Creates a family-owned action plan to prevent/reduce out-of-home placements for children and help children stay in their communities.

Victims of Crime (VOC)

The Victims of Crime (VOC) program provides compensation to qualified victims of specified crimes for losses suffered as a result of those crimes.


A person will be eligible for compensation if he/she is:

  • A victim
  • A derivative victim, or
  • A person who is entitled to reimbursement for funeral, burial, or crime scene cleanup expenses


  • Either of the following conditions is met:
    • The crime occurred within the state of California, whether or not the victim is a resident of California.
  • The victim was any of the following, whether or not the crime occurred within the State of California:
    • A resident of the state
    • A member of the military stationed in California
    • A family member living with a member of the military stationed in this state

For derivative victims, the following conditions must apply:

  • A resident of California, or a resident of another state, who:
    • At the time of the crime was the parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, child, or grandchild of the victim.
    • At the time of the crime was living in the household of the victim.
    • At the time of the crime was a person who had previously lived in the household of the victim for a period of no less than two (2) years in a relationship substantially similar to a parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, child, or grandchild of the victim.
  • Is another family member of the victim, including, but not limited to, the victim’s fiancée who witnessed the crime.
  • Is the primary caretaker of a minor victim, but was not the primary caretaker at the time of the crime.

For both victims and derivative victims, all of the following must apply:

  • The application is filed within the filing deadlines.
  • The injury or death has been the direct result of the crime.
  • An act will not constitute a crime if it involves the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft, or water vehicle that results in injury or death. The exception is when the injury or death from such an act was any of the following:
    • Caused by intentional use of a motor vehicle, aircraft, or water vehicle to commit the crime.
    • Caused by a driver who fails to stop at the scene of an accident.
    • Caused by a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug.
    • Caused by a driver of a motor vehicle in the immediate act of fleeing the scene of a crime in which he/she knowingly and willingly participated.
    • Caused by a person who commits vehicular manslaughter.
    • Caused by any party where a peace officer is operating a motor vehicle in an effort to apprehend a suspect, and the suspect is evading, fleeing, or otherwise attempting to elude the peace officer.
  • As a direct result of the crime, the victim or derivative victim sustained one (1) or more of the following:
    • Physical injury
    • Emotional injury and a threat of physical injury
    • Emotional injury, where the crime was a violation of provisions as outlined Government Code 13955 (3)(A)
  • The injury or death has resulted or may result in pecuniary loss within the scope of compensation.

Reimbursement Amounts

The total award for, or on behalf of, each victim or derivative victim cannot exceed thirty five thousand dollars ($35,000), unless there are additional federal funds available.

In such a case, the award may be increased to seventy thousand dollars ($70,000). The following individuals may be reimbursed for the expense of his/her outpatient mental health counseling up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000):

  • A victim
  • A derivative victim who is the surviving parent, sibling, child, spouse, fiancé(e) of a victim, if the crime directly resulted in the death of the victim.
  • A derivative victim who is the primary caretaker of a minor victim whose claim is not denied or reduced. The total amount cannot exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for a maximum of two (2) derivative victims.

Other eligible expenses that may be reimbursable are as follows:

Eligible Expense

Amount Not Exceed

Expenses for installing or increasing residential security

  • $1,000

Expenses related to cleaning the scene of the crime (Residential expenses only)

  • $1,000

Moving expenses to ensure personal safety and emotional well-being

  • $2,000

Medical expenses

  • Rates or limitations as established by the Board

Funeral and burial expenses incurred as a result of the crime

  • $7,500

Child care expenses (e.g. for a licensed child care provider)

  • $5,000

Application Process

The Department of Children & Family Services’ Community-Based Support Division’s Victims of Crime Section is the centralized processing section for all DCFS-initiated VOC applications/claims. All VOC applications for DCFS dependent children must be processed by the DCFS VOC Section and signed by the VOC Section Program manager. The eligibility process can take up to ninety (90) business days.

Community Family Preservation Networks (CFPNs) are also VOC providers. They can provide counseling for DCFS children and families even if they do not qualify for the Family Preservation Program (Family Centered Services).  For the CFPNs to get reimbursed by the VOC Program, however, the victim must meet the VOC requirements.

The Mental Health Service Providers Directory is available upon request by contacting the VOC Section or the Community Development Coordinator in your office.

Filing Deadlines

Applications for reimbursement, including those for crimes against minor victims, must be filed within either.

  • Three (3) years of the date of the crime, or
  • Three (3) years after the victim attains eighteen (18) years of age, or
  • Three (3) years from the time the victim or derivative victim knew, or in the exercise of ordinary diligence could have discovered, that an injury or death had been sustained as a direct result of crime, whichever is later.

The Board can, for good cause, grant an extension of the time period, when applicable, based on several relevant factors, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Whether the victim or derivative victim incurs emotional harm or a pecuniary loss while testifying during the prosecution or in the punishment of the person accused or convicted of the crime.
  • Whether the victim or derivative victim incurs emotional harm or a pecuniary loss when the person convicted of the crime is scheduled for a parole hearing or released from incarceration.

Selecting Appropriate Services for Children and Families

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Interview the child and parent(s)/legal guardian(s) to identify needed services.
    1. Help the family to define its strengths and to identify its support systems.
    2. During the CFT process, focus on family strengths. Give specific attention to how the culture, traditions, values and lifestyle of the child and the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) can facilitate case planning and service delivery.
    3. Complete the SDM Family Strengths and Needs Assessment tool to help prioritize the strengths and needs of a family.
  2. If a MAT Assessment or an Up Front Assessment was completed, consider the assessment’s recommendations when selecting services for the family.
  3. Select the services for the family that will appropriately reduce the child(ren)’s level of risk of abuse or neglect.
  4. Develop and complete the Initial Case Plan or the Case Plan Update.
  5. Document all contacts with the family.

Arranging the Provision of Services

ERCP/ISW or Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Ensure that the provision of all services is consistent with the family’s and child’s case plan goals and that these services address the specific needs of the child(ren) and the family.
  2. Discuss the objectives and corresponding services and/or activities outlined in the case plan with the family.
  3. Contact the service provider to determine what services are available.
  4. Prior to referring the family, obtain the following information from that service provider:
    • Availability of services, including waiting list information
    • Enrollment process
    • Length of the program
    • Required fees, if any / Sliding scale payment plans
    • Process for requesting client progress reports
  5. After receiving confirmation that services are available, affordable, and appropriate, assist the family and facilitate the enrollment process.
  6. Document a minimum two (2) service providers referrals in the Service Provider Notebook.
    • One (1) referral may be sufficient under specific circumstances (e.g. when a child requires a unique, highly specialized service).
  7. Document all contacts with service providers.
  8. If transportation is a barrier, assist the family by providing bus coupons or bus passes via auxiliary funds.

Referring a Dependent Child/Youth to the Victims of Crime (VOC) Unit

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Assess the potential eligibility of children in your caseload and initiate a VOC application on behalf of any eligible child.
  2. Obtain a signed Declaration in Support of Access to Juvenile Records form from the service provider before releasing any police reports and/or DCFS case records (e.g. minute orders, petitions, or court reports).
  3. Retain a copy of the signed DCFS 4389 in the case record services folder.
  4. Complete the DCFS 5410, Victims of Crime Program Checklist and Suspect Information, and attach any of the following reports that substantiate the crime:
    1. Court report documenting the sustained counts
    2. Police report (all pages)
    3. Proof of dependency
    4. Copy of the sustained petition with Disposition Minute Order
  5. Contact the VOC Coordinator in case of any questions.
  6. Submit documentation to the VOC Section for processing to:
    DCFS/VOC Program
    425 Shatto Place, Room 501
    Los Angeles, CA 90020
    Via email:

  7. Contact VOC staff at, as necessary, in the following cases:

Question Follow Up Matter

Contact Number

Referrals and status updates

VOC Staff

  • (213) 351-5753
  • (213) 351-5885
  • (213) 351-5875

Problems or questions regarding processed VOC claims

VOC Coordinator

  • (213) 351-5753

VOC Staff Responsibilities

  1. Review referral for completion.
  2. Prescreen the referral to ensure the crime and victim meet the requirements.
  3. Contact the CSW for pending information.
  4. If necessary, contact the law enforcement agency that took the police report.
  5. Upon receipt of all the requested documentation:
    1. Complete the VOC application packet.
    2. Forward applications and supporting documents to the VOC Coordinator for reviewing and approval.
    3. Obtain the signature of the VOC Program Manager.
    4. Forward the application packet to the District Attorney’s Claims Verification Unit.
  6. Upon receiving the Acknowledgment Letter from the VOC Program, notify CSWs and service providers, if any, of the assigned claim number.
    • Allow approximately four (4) weeks from the application’s submission date for receipt of an Acknowledgement Letter.
    • Claim numbers are not proof of eligibility. They are for inquiries and billing purposes only.
  7. Retain copies of all DCFS-generated VOC applications in the VOC Section.
  8. If the claim is denied:
    1. Notify CSWs and service providers.
    2. Submit an appeal on behalf of the victim, when applicable.

Referring a Non-Dependent Child or Family under DCFS Supervision to the VOC Unit

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Contact the VOC Coordinator and obtain the phone number of the closest Victim-Witness Assistance Program location to the family.
  2. Refer families to the City Attorney or District Attorney's Office, Bureau of Victim Services for assistance with the VOC application process.
  3. Contact the following, as necessary:



    Non-dependent children’s VOC applications processed by the Victim-Witness Assistance Program offices

    The Victim Service Representative who assisted the family.

    Other problems or general questions (e.g. claims processed by other agencies)

    California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board Victims of Crime Program

    (800) 777-9229

  4. Document all contacts.

Monitoring and Evaluating the Provision of Services

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Obtain from the parent(s) a signed ABCDM 228, Applicant’s Authorization for Release of Information
  2. Send the original release of information to the service provider.
  3. File a copy of the signed release of information in the case record.
  4. Contact the service provider within ten (10) business days of providing the referrals to verify that the parent(s) have enrolled and are participating in the program.
  5. Maintain regular telephone contact with the service providers.
  6. Request written progress reports in writing from the service providers.
  7. Assess the information provided by the service provider(s) and incorporate it into the child’s case plan and court reports.
  8. Document all contacts with service provider.
  9. If new or additional services are required, provide the family with new referrals and facilitate enrollment, as appropriate.

VOC Program Manager Approval

  • VOC Application


LA Kids

ABCDM 228, Applicant’s Authorization for Release of Information

CDRC, Request for Victim Services and Restitution Collection

DCFS 5410, Victims of Crime Program Checklist and Suspect Information

Declaration in Support of Access to Juvenile Records


0070-521.10, Assessment of Drug & Alcohol Abuse

0070-532.10, Assessing Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

0070-537.10, Assessment of Domestic Violence

0070-548.00, Community-Based Resources

0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0070-548.04, Intensive Services

0080-504.10, Case Plans

0100-525.41, The Wraparound Services Program

0100-570.10, Intensive Services Foster Care

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions

0500-501.20, Release of Confidential DCFS Case Record Information

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

0600-508.00, Foster Youth Substance Abuse Treatment Protocol and Program

0600-509.00, Dependency, Drug Court (DDC)/Family Substance Abuse Treatment Program (FSATP)

0900-520.10, Requesting Public Transportation for Clients: Eligibility and Ordering

0900-521.10, Service-Funded Activities (SFA)


California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division Section 31-201 – Requires that the social worker complete an assessment for each child and evaluate relevant information when child welfare services are to be provided.

CDSS MPP Division Section 31-301.1 – States that the individual child's case plan shall be the guiding principle in the provision of child welfare services. The social worker shall ensure that the provision of all services is consistent with the case plan goals. Further, contracted services should only include activities not to be performed by the social worker, as mandated by the Division 31 regulations.

CDSS MPP Division Section 31-310 – States that a Social Worker shall assist the child(ren) and family in understanding the court process, agency procedures and the reason for the provision of services. Further the CSW is to ensure that the child(ren)'s needs are met and their physical and emotional condition(s) monitored.

Government Code (GOV) Section 13951 – Defines “Crime,” “Derivative Victim,” “Injury,” “Law Enforcement,” “Pecuniary Loss,” “Peer Counseling,” “Reimbursable Expenses,” “Service Provider”, and “Victim.”

GOV Section 13953 – Summarizes the time frame within which a victim can file a claim and the circumstances by which the Board may grant an extension.

GOV Section 13954(d) – Summarizes the confidentiality and guidelines for the dissemination of information to the Board regarding the incident. States that, upon request, a copy of the petition, reports of the probation officer, and any other documents, filed in a juvenile court proceeding can be given to the probation officer, judge, referee, or other hearing officer. Additionally, the board and victim centers receiving records may not disclose a document that personally identifies a minor to anyone other than the minor who is identified, his/her custodial parent or guardian, the attorneys for those parties, and any other persons that may be designated by court order.

GOV Section 13955 – Sets forth the eligibility requirements for a person to receive compensation.

GOV Section 13957 – Sets forth the requirements for the Board to grant pecuniary losses to an individual.

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16500.5(a)(1)(A)(I) – Declares the intent of The Legislature to encourage the continuity of the family unit by providing family preservation services.

WIC Section 16501(g) – Describes family maintenance services are activities designed to provide in-home protective services to prevent or remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation, for the purposes of preventing separation of children from their families.

WIC Section 16501(h) – Describes family reunification services as activities designed to provide time-limited foster care services to prevent or remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation, when the child cannot safely remain at home, and needs temporary foster care, while services are provided to reunite the family.

WIC Section 16501(i) – Describes permanent placement services as services provided on behalf of children for whom there has been a judicial determination of a permanent plan for adoption, legal guardianship, or long-term foster care.

WIC Section 16501.1 – Addresses the child welfare services case plan as the foundation and central unifying tool. The case plan ensures that the child and family receive appropriate services and that the child receives proper placement services, if applicable. This section also addresses reasonable efforts made to prevent out-of-home placement and/or make it possible for a child to return home, unless the court determines that reunification services shall not be provided.