Service Linkages between the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and DCFS
1200-500.80 | Revision Date: 7/1/2014


This policy provides instruction regarding the DCFS/DPSS Linkages program including, referral, homeless outreach, and integration of DCFS/CalWORKS/GAIN case plans for families DCFS meets with.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 06/01/11 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.  This policy guide incorporates content from Procedural Guides: 0080-504.15, Integration of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Service Plans into Case Plan Updates), 1200-500.82 and Coordination of Services for Homeless Clients Served by Both the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) thereby cancelling those policy guides.

The title of this policy guide has been changed from: Connecting DCFS Individuals/Families to Programs Administered by the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to Service Linkages Between the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and DCFS.



Linkages is a service coordination partnership between DCFS and the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) that creates Multidisciplinary Personnel Teams to provide an integrated system of services for children and families.  Families are served through six Linkages protocols:

  • DCFS 5122 Screening Tool and Referral
  • Co-Location of GSWs at DCFS
  • Homeless Outreach
  • Family Preservation (FP) Service Coordination
  • Family Reunification (FR) Service Coordination

DCFS 5122 Screening Tool and Referrals

The DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice form is used to screen all DCFS involved families for potential eligibility for California Work Opportunity and responsibility to Kids Program (CalWORKS) or General Relief and refers potentially eligible families/individuals to DPSS for an expedited intake.  GAIN Services Workers (GSWs) co-located at DCFS Regional Offices screen for and refer potentially eligible families to CalFresh and/or Medi-Cal or other Health Care Services.

While conducting child abuse investigations, the Emergency Response (ER) and ER Command Post (ERCP) CSW's assess a family's potential eligibility for DPSS programs regardless of the outcome of the ER investigation.  Participation is voluntary and refusal to take part is not a sufficient basis for opening a case.

The CSW may only set up a referral, with the DCFS 5122, after (s)he has determined that an individual or family is potentially eligible for DPSS programs (CalWORKS, CalFresh, General Relief, Medi-Cal).

Co-Location of GSW at DCFS

A GSW is co-located at each of the seventeen (17) DCFS Regional Offices to provide:

DPSS Expertise in Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings:  For priority cases (cases mutual to both DCFS and DPSS, family potentially eligible to CalWORKs or relative caregiver potentially eligible to CalWORKs), co-located GSWs take part in CFT meetings

On-site case consultations on mutual cases outside their participation in CFT meetings.

Homeless Outreach

Through the outreach of the CalWORKs Homeless Case Managers (HCM), service coordination for homeless CalWORKs families receiving DCFS Family Maintenance (FM) services (court or voluntary), are conducted in consultation with the CSW.

A family is counted as a DPSS CalWORKs Assistance Unit (AU) and is considered homeless when the family:

  • Lacks a fixed and regular nighttime residence
  • Is sharing a residence with a family or friends on a temporary basis
  • Has a primary nighttime residence that is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living accommodations
  • Is residing in a public or private place not designated for, or not normally used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
  • Needs housing in a commercial establishment, shelter, publicly funded transitional housing or from a person in the business of renting properties
  • Received an eviction notice or notice to pay rent or quit

The Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office (CEO) Service Integration Branch (SIB) provides a match list of mutual DCFS/DPSS clients monthly.  The list includes:

  • Clients who have both an open DCFS and CalWORKs case
  • Are identified as homeless or at risk of homelessness by DPSS
  • Both DCFS and CalWORKs identifying case and caseworker information

Within three business days of receiving the match list, the HCM initiates contact with all participants on the list and:

  • Informs the participants that DPSS is collaborating with DCFS to help meet the family's needs and their DCFS case plan goals.  The HCM offer's relevant services.
  • Informs the participant's that their participation is voluntary.
  • Engages the participants in completing an assessment of their housing needs.

In all instances, the HCM contacts the case carrying CSW to discuss the case and annotates the match list indicating the outcome of the contact with both the participant and the CSW.

DPSS Linkages Central Support Managers provide the annotated match list to the DCFS Linkages Central Support Staff, who then provide the annotated list to the DCFS Regional Administrators monthly.

Family Preservation (FP) Service Coordination

This involves continuing service coordination for CalWORKs families with a parent who is eligible for GAIN services and has a Family Preservation (FP) case plan with DCFS.  This includes participation by the FP GSW in the FP Multi-Disciplinary Case Planning Committee (MCPC) meetings for these families.

Family Reunification (FR) Service Coordination

Continuing service coordination for DCFS parents who had an open CalWORKs case at the time DCFS removed the child(ren) from the home and have a DCFS Family Reunification (FR) case plan in place, may continue to receive services through GAIN (for example, substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling).  CalWORKs FR service coordination through GAIN may continue even though CalWORKs financial aid is stopped because of the removal of the child(ren) from the home.

Integration of CalWORKS and DCFS Case Plans

In order to generate an appropriate service plan, DCFS CSWs and DPSS GSWs collaborate to integrate the Welfare-to-Work service plan activities with the DCFS case plan activities to ensure that both case plans are appropriate to the family's needs.  Additionally, the CSW and GSW maintain ongoing communication with each other to jointly monitor and assess the parent's compliance and progress with the respective case plans.

  • DCFS may request up to an additional 180 days of Coordinated Family Reunification (FR) services as long as the following criteria are met:
    • Children were either removed from the parent(s) (detained) or the parent's agreed to the voluntary placement of their children in out-of-home care.
    • The family was receiving CalWORKS case assistance at the time the child(ren) was/were removed from the parent's home or voluntarily placed in out-of-home care.
    • DCFS has recommended and the court has ordered FR services or a voluntary Placement Agreement has been signed.
  • Services Available from CalWORKs/GAIN
    • Individual and family therapy
    • Group therapy
    • Substance abuse services
    • Mental health services
    • Domestic violence services (including legal services)
    • Transportation support
    • Child Care (if at least one child under the age of 13 remains at home)
    • Education / training
    • Learning disability screening
    • Vocational assessment
    • Job search
    • Educational training
    • Transportation support
    • Work-related expenses (including books, clothing, fees, supplies, and other necessary costs for all welfare-to-work, education or training activities).  Payment may also be issued for repair or replacement of necessary items.

Assessing Potential Eligibility for DPSS Services on a New Referral

ER CSW Responsibilities

  1. As part of the investigation, assess for economic need during the first face-to-face contact with the family, and determine if the economic needs of the family are a contributing factor to an increased risk level to the child(ren).
  2. When the assessment reveals an economic need and the parent is interested in receiving public assistance, use CWS/CMS to generate a DCFS 5122. For languages other than English and Spanish, the DCFS 5122 is accessible through LAKids and must be completed manually.
    1. While in the Case Management Section, select 'create a new document', select Los Angeles County, then select the "DCFS 5122 Referral Notice" from the document list and enter the following information:
      1. Select the DCFS office
      2. Use RAVS or contact the DPSS Central Helpline (877) 481-1044 to find out which DPSS District Office serves the address associated with the case.
      3. Click the checkbox corresponding to the correct DPSS office.
      4. Print the populated form.
    2. Use page 1 of the DCFS 5122 as a screening tool with the parent to determine if the family/individual appears to meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements for DPSS programs.
    3. Complete the "Results of Screening Family" box on the lower right of page
      1. Provide a copy to the parent and put a copy at the central DCFS 5122 Inbox.
    4. Give pages 3 and 4 of the DCFS 5122 (Accessing Health and Human Services Programs and Most Commonly Requested Documents) to the parent for information and future reference.
    5. If the screening tool shows the family/individual to be potentially eligible for CalWORKS, or General Relief, explain to the parent the expedited referral process that (s)he can expect to receive at DPSS.
      1. Use page 2 of the DCFS 5122 as the Referral to DPSS and complete the following:
        • Applicant Information section
        • Check the appropriate box to indicate the type of aid for which the family/individual is potentially eligible.
        • DCFS Information section
        • Check the box next to the appropriate DPSS office where the applicant should apply.
        • If the DPSS District Office where the individual should go to apply for DPSS benefits is not listed on the form, either search on-line for the appropriate DPSS Office location or contact the DPSS Central Help Line at (877) 481-1044.  After 5 pm and on weekends and holidays, staff must contact ERCP to get this information through Referral Address Verification System (RAVS).
        • Manually enter the location on the Referral Notice.
      2. Give the competed Referral to DPSS form (page 2) to the parent and tell the parent that (s)he must take the completed Referral to a DPSS Customer Service Representative at the designated DPSS district office so (s)he may file an expedited application.
        • All applications received by DPSS staff with the Referral to DPSS form will be given priority and expedited pending the individuals/families compliance with all other eligibility requirements.
  3. Document all actions taken and all contacts with the parents in the Contact Notebook.

Assessing Potential Eligibility for DPSS Services on an Open Case

ER CSW Responsibilities

  1. As part of periodic assessment of an open case, determine if a change in economic status contributes to an increased safety risk to the child or delays timely reunification efforts.
  2. When such a need exists and the parent appears interested in receiving public assistance, put in a request, and have your appointed support staff take the following actions.

Appointed Support Staff Responsibilities

  1. Search the CalSAWS system (California Statewide Automated Welfare System.) to determine the family's current service involvement with DPSS.
  2. Print out and provide the CalSAWS search results to the requesting CSW.
    1. If the family is receiving aid from DPSS, the CalSAWS printout will show the:
      1. Type of aid the family is receiving
      2. DPSS District Office serving the family
      3. DPSS Case File number for the family
  3. If the family is not currently receiving DPSS aid, generate a DCFS 5122 from CWS/CMS and provide it to the CSW.

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Consult with the co-located Gain Services Worker (GSW) to find out which family members are receiving services.
    • The CalSAWS print out does not specify which family members are receiving DPSS services.
  2. Follow steps 2 & 3 in the Assessing Potential Eligibility for DPSS Services on a New Referral section (ER CSW Responsibilities).
  3. Document all actions taken and all contacts with the parents in the Contact Notebook.

Appointed Linkages Support Staff Responsibilities

  1. Regularly, collect the contents of the DCFS 5122 Inbox.
  2. File DCFS 5122's, with the "Info Only" checkbox marked, in the case file associated with the Referral/Case Name.
  3. Complete the following steps for DCFS 5122's, with one or more of the "Potentially Eligible" checkboxes marked (CalWORKs, General Relief, Medi-Cal and/or CalFresh):
    1. Open the existing referral or case in CWS/CMS.
    2. From the Case or Referral section, click on Special Projects and select the plus (+) sign.
    3. In the drop down menu, under Special Projects Name, select: "Linkages – Screened for DPSS Assistance".
    4. Click on the start date box and enter the date noted on the DCFS 5122.
    5. File the DCFS 5122 in the case file associated with the Referral/Case Name.

Collaboration with a DPSS Homeless Case Manager (HCM) on an Open Case

The HCM will contact the DCFS case-carrying CSW by telephone and provide details of the contact with the CalWORKS participant which include, but are not limited to:

  • The participant's current housing and identified housing needs
  • Housing and homeless services offered (this includes homeless case management services and Specialized Supportive Services) and tell the CSW which of the services where accepted or denied
  • Any continuing service coordination needs
  • The participant's CalWORKs Eligibility Worker and GAIN Services Worker (GSW) information (for example, name, telephone number)

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Provide the HCM with the following information from the current case plan:
    1. The parents' service needs (for example, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, employment, housing)
    2. The parent's current housing/living situation reported to DCFS
  2. Discuss with the HCM the opportunity for coordination of services between DCFS and DPSS, collaboration with the HCM to determine how to best use Linkages to help the family, provision of joint monitoring and establishment of communication frequency between the HCM and CSW.
    • If the current DCFS case plan for the family being offered homeless services says the custodial parent must remain in her/his current housing to prevent removal of the child(ren), the CSW must tell the HCM that other housing arrangements may jeopardize the DCFS case plan.
  3. If housing needs are identified, incorporate them into the case plan.
    • The HCMs will continue to be involved in the case until one of the following is met:
      • Housing stabilized
    • Client is no longer a mutual participant because of discontinuance of the CalWORKs or DCFS case
    • The participant voluntarily disengages (no longer volunteers for services)
    • Loss of contact with family and unable to find.  In these circumstances, the HCM will notify the CSW who will attempt to establish contact with the family to reengage.  If reengagement is unsuccessful, service coordination between the HCM and the CSW ends.
  4. If the HCM tells the CSW the family is already receiving GAIN services, initiate collaboration between the Departments to provide services that will help the family meet the goals of their DCFS case plan.
  5. Document in the Contact Notebook relevant information about the contact with the HCM including the names and phone numbers of the DPSS case carrying Eligibility Worker (EW) and GSW as applicable.

DCFS Client is In Need of Homeless Services

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Find out if the client is receiving CalWORKs services by asking the Appointed Support Staff to generate a CalSAWS printout.
  2. If the CalSAWS printout shows the client is receiving CalWORKs services:
    1. Contact the HCM in the corresponding CalWORKs District office and request homeless services for the client.  The CalSAWS printout will show the appropriate CalWORKs District Office.  Current HCM Roster.
    2. Discuss opportunity for coordination of services and decide with the HCM how to best use the partnership to assist the family, collaborate in joint monitoring and set up the frequency of communication.
    3. Document all contact with the Homeless Case Manager (HCM) in the Contact Notebook.
  3. If the DCFS client is not receiving CalWORKs services assess for the potential eligibility for DPSS Services and seek the assistance of your co-located Linkages GSW.  When linkage to the HCM has been set up, continue with step 2 above.
  4. If the DCFS case is being closed while services are being coordinated with DPSS, tell the HCM, and/or GSW as appropriate.
    • If you experience difficulties connecting with DPSS, refer to the County of Los Angeles E-mail Directory Search site.

Integration of CalWORKS/GAIN and DCFS Case Plans

ER/Case-Case Carrying SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the case, minute order or Voluntary Placement Agreement and the CalSAWS printout.  Determine if the parent's service component is Family Reunification (FR).
  2. If the service component is FR, request that the Unit Clerk obtain a CalSAWS printout to determine if the family is currently receiving CalWORKs case assistance.  If the family is participating in CalWORKs, instruct the Unit Clerk to flag the printout by writing: "CalWORKs Eligible" on the printout.
  3. If the CalSAWS shows the family is receiving CalWORKs, request the Linkages GSW to initiate the notification process to DPSS by providing him/her with the following information:
    1. A copy of the minute order or Voluntary Placement Agreement
    2. A CalSAWS printout
    3. Name of the assigned ER, ISW or Case-Carrying CSW
  4. The Co-Located GSW does the following:
    • Reviews the identifying information contained in the minute order or Voluntary Placement Agreement and researches further to determine if the parent was aided on the CalWORKs case.
    • Annotates the DCFS 5230, Family Reunification (FR) Notification Gram to DPSS Gain services Workers form regarding the parents eligibility and forwards the DCFS 5230 to the ER or Case-Carrying CSW if the parent is not eligible.
    • When the parent is eligible, completes Part 1 and 2 of the DCFS 5230 in consultation with the assigned CSW to determine which CalWORKs services/activities will be needed to support FR.
    • Emails the completed DCFS 5230 to the CSW, SCSW, FR Liaison at the appropriate GAIN Region and concurrently to the FR Liaison at the corresponding CalWORKs District Office.

ER/ISW/Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Once the Co-Located GSW emails the DCFS 5230 to DPSS, it is his/her responsibility to contact the CSW within three (3) business days.
    • In the event the FR GSW does not make contact, the CSW should contact the GAIN FR Liaison noted on the DCFS 5230 to troubleshoot the delay and/or access the name and telephone number of the assigned GSW.
  2. Consult with the FR GSW to coordinate a comprehensive service plan for the parent(s) and to incorporate the CalWORKs service activities into the Case Plans.
  3. Once the case plan has been approved by the SCSW, forward a copy to the FR GSW.
  4. Request a copy of the GAIN service plan from the FR GSW and file with the DCFS Case Plan Update.
  5. Upon receipt of the Jurisdictional/Disposition Hearing minute order, verify whether or not FR services were ordered and take one of the following steps:
    1. When FR services are NOT ordered, notify the FR GSW by completing Part 3 of the DCFS 5230 and email it to him/her.
    2. When FR services ARE ordered, document the initiation of services in CWS/CMS by entering the case plan approval date in the Start Date field on the Special Projects Page for: "AB 429 FR CalWORKs".
  6. Provide ongoing FR services:
    1. If there is concern about the parents progress, consult with the SCSW about the following options:
      1. Contacting the family to encourage compliance.
      2. Making adjustments to the service plan.
      3. Making alternative recommendations.
    2. Consult with the FR GSW to coordinate implementation of the appropriate plan of action.
    3. If DPSS specialized supportive services have been terminated because the service goals have been met or the matter was transferred to another provider, or for other reasons, consult with the SCSW about the appropriate plan of action.
    4. At least thirty (30) days prior to the due date for completing the case plan update and status review court report, contact the FR GSW to determine if FR services will be continued or terminated.
    5. Prior to any Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings scheduled for the family, consult with the FR and/or Linkages GSW to determine if the case circumstances warrant attendance of DPSS personnel or to provide information to the CSW for the CFT.
    6. Upon receipt of the Status Review hearing minute order notify the FR GSW as to whether or not FR services will be continued by completing the DCFS 5230, online and forwarding it to the FR GSW
    7. Maintain regular contact with the FR GSW until FR services are terminated.
    8. When FR services are terminated for all of the children, the parents are no longer eligible to participate in the AB 429 CalWORKs services program.
    9. Document the termination of services in CWS/CMS by entering the FR services termination date in the End Date field on the Special Project Page for "AB 429 FR CalWORKs".
    10. Document all contacts with the FR GSW in the Contact Notebook.



DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (in English and Spanish)

LA Kids

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Armenian)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Cambodian)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Chinese)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (English)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Korean)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Russian)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Spanish)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Tagalog)

DCFS 5122, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Referral Notice (Vietnamese)

DCFS 5230, AB 429 Notification Gram to DPSS GAIN Services Workers


0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0080.502.10, Case Plans

1200-500.81, Family Preservation Program Services as Part of the Welfare-to-Work Plan

FYI 12-42, Forming a Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Team


Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 10850 – Addresses requirements regarding confidentiality and disclosure regarding public social services participants.

WIC Section 11203 – States the eligibility criteria for receipt of CalWORKs services while children are in out-of-home care.

WIC Section 12251 – Defines social services and eligibility requirements.

WIC Section 16501.1 – Addresses the requirements for child welfare services case plans.

WIC Section 18951(d) – Defines a Multidisciplinary Team and who may participate.

WIC Section 18964 – Specifies under what conditions other persons may become part of the Multidisciplinary Team. Sets forth the requirements that must be met to include that person. Includes option for meeting attendance by caregivers or tribal members.

WIC Section 18961.7 – Sets forth the circumstances and requirements that must be met to allow the formation of Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) when investigating a child abuse or neglect referral.

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-125.4 – States in part that, if as a result of a child abuse investigation it is determined that child welfare services are unnecessary, but that the services of another community agency are appropriate, the social worker shall refer the child and/or family to such agency and shall document the determination and referral(s).

CDSS MPP Division 31-201-235 – Details the requirements for the completion of both initial case plans and case plan updates.