Saturday, December 8, 2012

Practices And Procedures



2510. Description

The social worker's primary goal is to attempt to ensure the safety of the child within the context of the child's need for permanence in a family setting. The social worker's emphasis is to strengthen the family in order to prevent removal and/or reduce the length of stay in temporary out-of-home care.

2511. Service Model

DCFS employs the least intrusive service delivery model which engages the family in problem solving efforts provided the child is adequately protected. Service delivery is based upon and designed to build upon assessed family protective capacities strengths.

2512. Accessing Available Services

CA supervisors are responsible for orienting all social work staff with information regarding agencies and services available to clients. Social workers refer clients to appropriate available services necessary to reduce or eliminate safety threats and increase the parent or caregiver's protective capacities to assure the child's safety and well being. Such services include FPS and IFPS. See chapter 4000, section 4502 for complete descriptions of the two programs.

2513. Case Management Functions

Service delivery/case management functions include:

  1. Ongoing review of case plan as needed.
  2. Regular assessments and monitoring of child safety.
  3. Coordination of service delivery, including assisting families and children in accessing DSHS and community resources.
  4. Consulting with service providers regarding:
    1. Reason for intake.
    2. Family's attendance and progress in service efforts.
    3. Provider/family identification of service needs.
    4. Other case coordination.
  5. Assessing and monitoring the ability of a non-offending parent or caretaker to protect the child from further CA/N.
  6. Decision-making regarding the timing and goals of permanency planning.
  7. A newly assigned social worker must contact all parties to the child�s case within 7 calendar days of case assignment and provide the new social workers contact information. This contact must be documented in FamLink and may be delivered by mail, e-mail or in person.
  8. The assigned social worker shall invite the following parties to any staffing in which decisions regarding the child are being made.
    1. Treatment Providers;
    2. Other professionals who play a significant role with the family;
    3. Individuals with responsibilities identified in the safety plan;
    4. The family, if appropriate, if not present, their perspective should be represented;
    5. Foster Parent;
    6. Child, if over 12 years of age.

2514. Service Continuity

The supervisor shall work to assure continuity of service delivery when CPS cases are transferred from one social worker to another. Continuity of service delivery includes communication and case staffing among DCFS staff who have recently worked on the case.

2520. Investigation

The social worker shall complete an investigative risk assessment on all investigations of child abuse and neglect upon completion of the investigation within 45 calendar days of Children's Administration receiving the intake unless the requirement is waived by the supervisor per section 2610.

2530. Service Outcomes

The social worker shall achieve one of three outcomes for investigations:

  1. A written voluntary case plan with the family signed by the participants.
  2. A dependency action filed in juvenile court.
  3. Closure of the case.

2540. Investigative Assessment

The Investigative Assessment (IA) must be completed in FamLink within 45 calendar days of Children's Administration receiving the intake.

  1. A complete Investigative Assessment will contain the following information:
    1. A narrative description of:
      • History of CA/N (prior to the current allegations, includes victimization of any child in the family and the injuries, dangerous acts, neglectful conditions, sexual abuse and extent of developmental/emotional harm).
      • Description of the most recent CA/N (including severity, frequency and effects on child).
      • Protective factors and family strengths.
    2. Structured Decision Making (SDM) risk assessment tool.
    3. Documentation that a determination has been made as to whether it is probable that the use of alcohol or controlled substances is a contributing factor to the alleged abuse or neglect.
    4. Disposition; e.g., a description of DCFS case status.
    5. Documentation of Findings regarding alleged abuse or neglect. Findings will be base on CA/N codes designated in the intake according to the following definitions:
      1. Founded means: Based on the CPS investigation, available information indicates that, more likely than not, child abuse or neglect did occur as defined in WAC 388-15-009.
      2. Unfounded means: The determination following an investigation by CPS that, based on available information, it is more likely than not that child abuse or neglect did not occur or there is insufficient evidence for the department to determine whether the alleged child abuse did or did not occur as defined in WAC 388-15-009. RCW 26.44.020
      3. If a court in a civil or criminal proceeding, considering the same facts or circumstances contained in the CA case being investigated, makes a judicial finding by a preponderance of the evidence or higher that the subject of the pending investigation has abused or neglected the child, CA shall adopt the finding in its investigation.
      4. When a criminal or civil finding differs from an unfounded finding on a completed investigation or closed case, CA will, upon request, consider the changing the CA/N finding to founded.


        When CA staff considers a criminal or civil findings that differs from an unfounded finding on a completed investigation or closed case, they must:

        1. Compare the court case with the department case to ensure the same facts are considered.
        2. Discuss the judicial findings with the CPS supervisor and Area Administrator to determine if the CA findings should be changed.
        3. Send a new CPS Founded letter and follow regular CAPTA procedures, if it is determined the findings should be changed.
      5. When a third founded finding is made involving the same child or family within the previous 12 months, CA must promptly notify the Office of the Ombudsman of the contents of the report and disposition of the investigation.

    2541. Structured Decision Making®(SDM)

    Purpose Statement
    The Structured Decision Making (SDM) risk assessment is a household-based assessment focused on the characteristics of the caregivers and children living in that household. By completing the SDM following the Safety Assessment, the worker obtains an objective appraisal of the risk to a child. The SDM informs when services may or must be offered.


    RCW 26.44.030

    Executive Order 12-04


    1. The SDM risk assessment tool is required as part of the Investigative Assessment and is completed on all screened in CPS intakes (includes Risk Only intakes) requiring a CPS investigation.
    2. Services must be offered to families with a high SDM score.
    3. Services may be offered to families with a moderately high SDM score.
    4. Services are not offered to families when observable, verifiable and describable changes have been made within the family that reduces the identified risk in the SDM.
    5. Cases with a high SDM score must be staffed with a Child Protection Team (CPT) for identified child victims aged six years or younger.


    1. Complete the SDM following the Safety Assessment and prior to a determination to offer ongoing services or a case transfer to another program area.
    2. When the SDM score is "high" and the child is determined unsafe through the Safety Assessment then:
      1. Follow the Safety Plan policy
      2. Follow the 1740 Child Protection Teams (CPT) policy.
      3. Document "Transferred to Tribal Authority" per ICW Manual on the Investigative Assessment disposition tab when a Tribe is assuming responsibility for providing services and monitoring the family.
      4. Explain why services were not offered or provided to the family in (including when Tribe assumes authority) in FamLink.
    3. When the SDM score is "high" or "moderately high" and the child is determined safe through the Safety Assessment:
      1. Offer services when the SDM score is high and both family and individual level concerns exist per 2440 Service Agreement policy.
      2. Consider offering services when the SDM score is moderately high and both family and individual level concerns exist per 2440 Service Agreement policy.
      3. Services are not offered to families when observable, verifiable and describable changes have been made within the family that reduces the identified risk in the SDM.
      4. Follow the 1740 Child Protection Teams (CPT) policy.
      5. Document the following on the Investigative Assessment disposition tab when services are not offered to the family by CA:
        1. "Transferred to Tribal Authority" if Tribe is assuming responsibility for providing services and monitoring the family
        2. "Other" on the drop down menu and in the text box document an explanation why services were not offered or provided
    4. When the chronicity indicator has been identified with a family and the family has a SDM score of high, and:
      1. Voluntary services are offered:
        1. Refer family to appropriate evidence based or promising programs where available, or
        2. If not available, refer other relevant agency contracted or community services
      2. Voluntary services are not offered:
        1. Follow the 1740 Child Protection Teams (CPT) policy.
        2. Review case with CPS supervisor before case closure


    2551. Intakes on Substance Abuse during Pregnancy - Intake Screening

    Intake must take the following actions regarding reports of substance abuse during pregnancy.

    1. Document a pregnant woman's alleged abuse of substance(s) (not medically prescribed by the woman's medical practitioner) in an intake as "Information Only."
    2. Document available information on the following risk and protective factors:
      1. Current substance abuse (specific substance(s) used, frequency, intensity, duration and amount of use).
      2. History of substance abuse (e.g., periods of abstinence).
      3. History of or refusal to enter substance abuse treatment.
      4. Results of prior substance abuse treatment.
      5. Current prenatal care and name of physician or obstetric care provider.
      6. History or current presence of domestic violence.
      7. Previous history of serious mental health disorder and/or postpartum mood disorder.
      8. Environmental factors, including exposure to toxic chemicals (i.e. drug manufacturing).
      9. Support available to the pregnant woman.

      Information from a-i above will be documented in the Narrative section - Caregiver Characteristics. This information may be used to assess safety of the child.

    3. On all "Screened Out" intakes on a pregnant woman allegedly abusing substances,intake staff will identify whether the woman is receiving Medicaid.
      1. If the woman is not on Medicaid, intake will email a copy of the intake to ESA at
      2. If the woman is on Medicaid, intake staff will send a copy of the intake by email, mail or fax to the First Steps provider whenever possible. If there are multiple First Steps providers serving one community, intake staff will send to ESA HQ at
    4. When the referrer is an ESA HQ or First Steps provider, intake staff will not need to send an intake.
    5. Upon receipt of an intake involving an Indian child, CA intake will send intakes to the Tribe for the Tribe's information. Refer to ICW Manual Section 05.05.
    6. Follow the intake procedures (outlined in section 2220 Practices and Procedures Guide) when there is a pregnant woman who is parenting a child and there is an allegation of child abuse or neglect (CA/N).

    2552. Intakes on Newborns Identified by a Medical Practitioner as Substance Exposed and/or Substance Affected Newborns by Substances (Not Medically Prescribed) or Has Withdrawal Symptoms Resulting from Prenatal Substance Exposure.

    1. Definitions
      1. A child is considered to be a "newborn" or "neonate" up to age 1 month (4 weeks old).
      2. A Substance-Exposed Newborn is one who tests positive for substance(s) at birth, or the mother tests positive for substance(s) at the time of delivery or the newborn is identified by a medical practitioner as having been prenatally exposed to substance(s).
      3. A Substance-Affected Newborn is one who has withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal substance exposure and/or demonstrates physical or behavioral signs that can be attributed to prenatal exposure to substances.
    2. Decision Screening

      Intake staff must take the following actions on all intakes that identify a newborn as exposed to substance(s).

      1. Substance-Exposed Newborn:
        1. When there is an allegation of CA/N, the intake screens in for CPS Investigation.
        2. When there is no allegation but risk factor(s) that indicate present or impending danger the intake screens in for CPS Risk Only Investigation.
      2. Substance-Exposed and Substance-Affected Newborn:
        1. When the newborn is Substance-Affected and there is an allegation of CA/N, the intake screens in CPS Investigation.
        2. Where the newborn is Substance-Affected and there is no allegation of child abuse or neglect, the intake is screened in for CPS Risk Only Investigation.
      3. An Intake Supervisor must consult with local Area Administrator or regional CPS Program Manager when they are recommending the intake be screened out. All screening decision made as a result of a consultation must be documented in FamLink.
    3. Intake Documentation
      1. Check the SE box (Substance EXPOSURE evident at birth) on the newborn in FamLink Intake Participants when the newborn is exposed prenatally to substance(s). Refer to definition of substance exposed newborn in 2552(A).
      2. Document whether the medical practitioner identified the newborn as AFFECTED by substance(s) AND available information on risk and protective factors outlined in 2552 (B).
    4. CPS Response

      CPS must take the following actions on all intakes that identify a newborn as AFFECTED by substance(s).

      1. Follow CPS Investigation procedures and complete a "Plan of Safe Care" as required by CAPTA. CPS will complete the GAIN SS if the parent is not involved in mental health or chemical dependency services.
      2. Document the "Plan of Safe Care" in a case note. The plan will include, but is not limited:
        1. Medical care for the newborn.
        2. Safe housing
        3. A plan of child care if the parent(s) is employed or in school.
        4. A list of phone numbers and contacts for the parent(s) to call, including
          1. Emergency care for the newborn.
          2. Help with parenting issues.
          3. Help during a crisis.
        5. A referral for the parent to necessary services (e.g., local Chemical Dependency Professional, Substance Abuse Assessment/treatment, or Mental Health Assessment/treatment).
        6. A referral to other resources that may be of support (e.g. First Steps, Safe Babies Safe Moms (CPS clients are a priority population), Parent Child Assistance Program, Public Health Department, Women, Infant and Children (WIC), etc.).

2553. Institutional Abuse

  1. Institutional abuse is any child maltreatment as defined in DSHS Administrative Policy 8.02, Client Abuse, occurring in any DSHS certified, licensed, or staffed child care facility, including adoptive home placements prior to finalization. For investigation, DCFS staff shall follow the policy and procedures outlined in the Operations Manual, chapter 5000, section 5300.
  2. The social worker shall report through the supervisor all incidents of alleged CA/N in DSHS staffed, licensed, or certified facilities using the steps outlined in the CA Operations Manual, chapter 5000, section 5100.
  3. Certified and licensed facilities include foster homes, including those licensed by child placing agencies, child day care facilities, group homes, hospitals, Crisis Residential Centers (CRC), and some juvenile detention facilities. Division of Licensed Resource, CPS Section must notify the licensing authority of alleged CA/N and must investigate in accordance with the Operations Manual, chapter 5000, section 5300. Any plan for remedial action with the facility must be the responsibility of the licensing authority. The CPS social worker and the licenser must consult during the investigation. WAC 388-73-036, 388-73-048, and 388-73-050

2554. Alleged Abuse of Child Clients by DSHS Personnel

  1. The social worker takes intakes using FamLink and must attach any supporting documents. See the CA Operations Manual, chapter 15000, section 15303, for procedures regarding administrative files.
  2. The intake social worker places all relevant material into a confidential file folder and brings it immediately to the attention of the supervisor.
  3. The supervisor briefs the area manager and agrees on a plan for independent investigation by CA staff which includes the following elements:
    1. Consultation with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) under DSHS Administrative Policy 6.01.
    2. Referral to the Employee Services Director for possible investigation per DSHS Administrative Policy 6.01.
    3. Designation of specific CA social work staff to conduct the investigation.
    4. Making an initial incident report to the Regional Administrator;
    5. Notification to law enforcement as required by RCW 26.44.030 and 74.15.030.
    6. Notification to the head, or designee, of the facility where the staff is employed that:
      1. A CPS intake has been made.
      2. A CPS investigation will follow.
      3. No action shall be taken by the facility which might interfere with the CPS investigation.
    7. Assessment of the alleged perpetrator's access to the child victim or other potential child victims.
    8. The immediate treatment and protection needs of the child and willingness or ability of the agency to meet those needs.
    9. Notification of the parents and/or person(s) who had legal custody prior to the grant of legal custody to the state of the alleged victim and the facility head of the allegations and the results of the CPS investigation.
    10. Provision of the written results of the investigation to the Assistant Secretary through the Regional Administrator on an incident report format, in accordance with the incident reporting provisions of the Operations Manual, chapter 5000, section 5100.
  4. The CPS social worker must coordinate the investigation with other authorized investigative activities.
  5. The assigned social worker and the supervisor are responsible for the assessment of continued risk to the alleged victim.

2555. Alleged Medical Neglect in Health Care Facilities

  1. DCFS investigates alleged incidents of medical neglect, including the withholding of medically indicated treatment from a disabled infant with a life-threatening condition, in a health care facility. As used in this section, withholding medically indicated treatment means: The failure to respond to a child's life-threatening conditions by providing treatment which, in the treating or consulting physician's reasonable medical judgment, will be most likely to be effective in ameliorating or correcting such conditions.
  2. There are three exceptions to the requirements that treatment be provided. Determination of exceptions is a medical responsibility. Exceptions are valid for cases in which:
    1. The child is chronically and irreversibly comatose.
    2. The provision of treatment would merely prolong dying or would not be effective in ameliorating or correcting the child's life-threatening conditions, or otherwise would be futile in terms of survival of the child.
    3. The provision of such treatment would be virtually futile in terms of the survival of the child and the treatment itself under such circumstances would be inhumane.

      Appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication must be provided without exception. The medical professional reviewing the medical decision shall not base consideration on the quality of life in later childhood and adulthood in determining whether an exception may be made.

  3. The CPS social worker shall:
    1. Promptly notify the individual designated by and within the health care facility of cases of alleged medical neglect.
    2. Coordinate and consult with individuals designated by and within the health care facility throughout the ongoing investigation.
    3. Meet with the individual designated by the facility to review the medical record.
    4. Observe the child.
    5. Consider the intake unfounded when:
      1. The child is not at risk.
      2. The medical records indicate that the attending physician's plan to withhold medical treatment has been reviewed and concurred with by two consulting physicians or an infant care review committee (or similar institutional/medical review) which includes the concurrence of two consulting physicians.
        1. Provided that at any time the department may review any decision with the Statewide Medical Consultation Network at 206.987.2194 or After Hours 206.987.2000, or other consulting physician as may be designated by the department, in determining the need for CPS intervention.
        2. The department has final responsibility for determining whether further intervention or court intake is necessary.
    6. Request that a meeting be scheduled as soon as possible with appropriate hospital/medical staff to review the decision to withhold treatment when it is not clear or documented that the conditions in number 5 above exist. Such a meeting shall include:
      1. The hospital or facility designee.
      2. The attending physician.
      3. The CPS social worker.
      4. The DCFS medical consultant (as necessary).
      5. Others as appropriate.

      The social worker shall document the reason for the non-attendance of a representative of 6a through 6d.

    7. Pursue remedies, including initiating a dependency action in juvenile court, as may be necessary to prevent the withholding of medically indicated treatment from children with life threatening conditions.
    8. Encourage inclusion in treatment of appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication regardless of the child's condition or prognosis.
  4. Hospitals/health care facilities involved in the care of children are an important reporting and monitoring resource for DCFS. Local DCFS offices shall maintain and update annually agreements with each facility that shall include the following elements:
    1. Procedure specifying that the CPS social worker shall promptly contact the facility to obtain the name, title, and telephone number of the individual(s) designated by such facility for the purpose of coordination, consultation, and notification of CPS concerns involving the facility.
    2. CPS intake procedures consistent with the intent of RCW 26.44 that facilitate direct intake by the person observing the risk situation.
    3. Arrangements for preliminary interviews of children by the CPS social worker before notification of parents when such notification of parents would interfere with the appropriate collection of information.
    4. Arrangements for allowing access to medical records by the social worker involved in a CPS investigation.
    5. Procedure for the placing of a child in temporary protective custody by a hospital administrator or physician as specified by RCW 26.44.056.
    6. Procedure for the investigation of alleged incidents for medical neglect by the facility, including the alleged withholding of medically indicated treatment from a disabled infant. Such a procedure may include:
      1. Continuation of medically necessary treatment upon notification that DCFS has received an intake. When necessary to maintain medical treatment, the facility administrator shall take action to allow the initial CPS review to be completed.
      2. Notification to parents regarding the review of the decision to withhold treatment shall be deferred to the facility when the facility is willing to accept that responsibility.
      3. Agreement and procedures for the meeting of the social worker and facility representatives, including, as necessary, the contracted medical consultant designated by DCFS.
      4. The social worker may refer unresolved issues to the Attorney General's Office or its designee for consideration of grounds for dependency to assure the continuation of medically necessary treatment.

2556. Intakes to CPS from Residential Facilities when Alleged Abuse Occurred Prior to Placement

  1. DCFS response when a child in a residential treatment facility, institution, or group home discloses past sexual or physical abuse which did not occur in the facility includes:
    1. Where to Report
      1. CPS intake in the office currently authorizing or supervising the placement of the child (placing office) has primary responsibility to receive a report regarding previous CA/N.
      2. Intake serving the area in which the facility is located shall take the intake when:
        1. The child is not a DCFS-related placement.
        2. The facility is unable to contact the placing office.
    2. CPS Response to Reports
      1. When CPS in the local office serving the area where the facility is located receives a call, the intake worker:
        1. Obtains the following information as necessary to identify the case and the placing office:
          • A brief description of the information.
          • The name, birth date, and case number (if any) of the child.
          • The name and address of the child's parent(s) or other caretaker.
          • The name of the family's caseworker, if any.
          • The name and phone number of the reporter.
        2. Calls CPS intake in the placing office. If this can be done with the facility on hold, then the worker need only connect the facility when the placing office is on line. If the facility is not on hold, the above information will be given to CPS intake at the placing office.
        3. Will be available to provide coordination and facilitation of the referral; e.g., interview the child victim or other facility staff when requested by the placing office.
        4. Provides consultation and assistance to facilities in their area regarding what constitutes CA/N and what are the reporting requirements.
      2. The placing office coordinates the:
        1. Investigation, including the interview of the child.
        2. Reports to law enforcement.
        3. Other activities as necessary.
      3. The placing office:
        1. Has CPS in the location of the facility conduct the investigation.
        2. Completes the FamLink intake with the notation "This is a residential facility" and screen the intake for sufficiency.
        3. Informs the referrer of the initial decision and reason.
          • If accepted, non-emergent response is most likely unless the child is returning to the home of the alleged offender (visit, discharge, etc.).
          • If screened out when the case is already open to DCFS, the intake will be sent to the assigned worker for information, possible non-CPS follow-up, or other action as may be necessary.
        4. Assigns cases accepted for investigation and notify the facility of the worker identity within three working days. The supervisor and the social worker shall make every effort to expedite responses when the facility requests earlier assignment for the security or emotional health of the child. The supervisor may assign an emergent response time.
        5. The intake supervisor notifies staff/supervisors with the open cases on the child/victim and forwards a copy of the intake to the currently assigned social worker.
        6. The investigating worker keeps the facility advised of the investigation time-frames, progress, and findings.

2557. CPS Alerts

  1. Any DCFS supervisor may initiate statewide or interstate CPS alerts when it is important that a child at risk be located. Before initiating the alert, the social worker needs to check for the subject individuals in Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES). The alert system generates a computer printout containing essential information for each local office within the state and, when necessary, provides for referral to liaison persons in other states. The system is only available for open and assigned CPS cases.
  2. A DCFS supervisor may initiate an alert within the state by contacting the FamLink Help Desk or using E-mail requesting acknowledgment and providing information in the following format:
    1. Identification:
      1. Name and birth date of child at risk.
      2. Names and birth dates of persons presently caring for the child.
      3. Current legal status of the child.
    2. Problem: Describe why the child is at risk, the degree of risk, and, if known, the probable destination. Historical, legal, or other identifying information may be added, but it should be brief and relevant.
    3. Contact: Name of assigned social worker and complete mail and phone contact instructions.
  3. The DCFS supervisor follows the above format for interstate alerts and must submit them in typed memo form to DSHS, DCFS, Mail Stop 45710, Attention: CPS Program Manager.
  4. The supervisor may provide printed copies of the alert to CSO intake units.
  5. The intake supervisor maintains a printed copy of all alerts in either a chronological or alphabetical file at the office for 180 days after receipt. The local office may destroy the printed alerts after that time. The originating office may renew alerts after 180 days.

2558. Sexually Aggressive Youth

  1. Social workers must arrange for the provision of appropriate and comprehensive evaluation, treatment and supplemental services for sexually aggressive youth (SAY) as approved by Regional SAY Teams. See chapter 4000, section 4536 for information regarding services and placement guidelines. RCW 74.13.075
  2. Sexually aggressive youth means those juveniles who:
    1. Have been abused and have committed a sexually aggressive act or other violent act that is sexual in nature; and
    2. Are in the care and custody of the state; or
    3. Are in the care and custody of a federally recognized Indian tribe located within the state; or
    4. Are the subject of a proceeding under chapter RCW 13.34 or a child welfare proceeding held before a tribal court. This allows service to children in their own home who are in shelter care status or dependent; or
    5. Have been determined by law enforcement (for children under eight years of age) or a prosecutor's office (for children eight through 11 years of age) to be a sexually aggressive youth who will not be prosecuted. RCW 26.44.160 and 9A.04.050
  3. CPS must investigate any intakes from law enforcement or a prosecutor's office that allege that a child is a sexually aggressive youth. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the child is abused or neglected, whether any siblings are at risk, and whether the child or the child's parents are in need of services or treatment. RCW 26.44.075
  4. DCFS may offer appropriate available services and treatment as provided in RCW 74.13.075 and may refer the child and his or her parents to appropriate services available within the community. If the parents refuse to accept or fail to obtain appropriate treatment or services under circumstances that indicate that the refusal or failure is child abuse or neglect, the department may pursue a dependency action as provided in chapter 13.34 RCW.

2559. Hospital Holds

CPS must receive a child taken into custody by a law enforcement agency pursuant to a determination by a hospital administrator or physician that the child would be in imminent danger if released to the child's caretaker. CPS must detain the child until the court assumes custody. However, if in the opinion of the CPS worker and supervisor, based upon documented evidence and in consultation with appropriate entities such as the Child Protection Team (CPT), the child's safety will not be unduly endangered if the child is returned, the social worker may return the child to the parent or legal guardian. If the child is returned home, the assigned social worker must monitor the continued safety of the child for a six-month period.

2559A. Safety of Newborn Children Act (Safe Haven)


    The Safety of Newborn Children Act allows a parent to transfer (abandon) a newborn anonymously and without criminal liability at a hospital emergency room, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic if open and personnel are present to accept the child.

    1. CA staff must accept an intake of a newborn transferred under the Safety of Newborn Children Act.
    2. CA must take custody of the newborn within 24 hours of notification (RCW 13.34.360).
    3. The intake must be screened in Non-CPS and assigned an Emergent response.

    Intake staff record and accept intakes of infants transferred (abandoned) under the Safety of Newborn Children Act.

    CA Intake Responsibilities:

    1. CA intake screens in a Safety of Newborn Children Act type intake as Non-CPS intake.
    2. CA intake enters "unknown, unknown" in the person profile with a unique I.D. number for tracking. DOB will be determined by the hospital. Parent's name should be left blank.
    3. CA intake collects family medical history, when possible.
    4. CA Intake Supervisor reviews and confirms intake is accurate and assigns intake to a CFWS Supervisor.

    See Practices and Procedures Chapter 4000, Section 4121 for CFWS Responsibilities.

2559B. Finding Notification and Review

  1. Review and Appeal Rights-When a CA CPS investigator completes an investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect under chapter 26.44 RCW, the assigned CA staff must notify the alleged perpetrator of the findings of the investigation and provide the alleged perpetrator with the opportunity to review and appeal the finding if applicable.
    1. The assigned CA staff must provide notice on all findings, including founded and unfounded by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the person's last known address. When department staff knows that the alleged perpetrator has moved, assigned staff must make good faith efforts to determine the new address of the alleged perpetrator.
    2. A person named after October 1, 1998, as an alleged perpetrator in a founded report of CA/N has the right to seek review and amendment of the finding.
      1. After receiving written notice from the department that the department has named the person as a perpetrator in a founded CA/N report, the named person may request that the department review the finding. The department must receive the request for review within 20 calendar-days following the named person's receipt of the notice.
      2. The named person must make the request in writing.
      3. If the alleged perpetrator does not make a request for review in accordance with this section, the alleged perpetrator may not further challenge the finding and has no right to an administrative hearing or judicial review of the finding.
    3. Upon receipt of a written request for review, CA must review and, if appropriate, amend the finding. CA staff above the first level of supervision must retain responsibility for the review. See paragraph B(7) below.
      1. Upon completion of the review, the Regional Administrator or Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) Director, or designee, as applicable must notify the alleged perpetrator in writing of the agency's determination.
      2. The CA representative must send the notification by certified mail to the named person's last known address.
    4. If, following agency review, the report remains founded, the person named as the perpetrator may request an administrative hearing to contest the finding. The named person must file the request for an administrative hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings within 30 calendar days after receiving notice of the agency review determination.
    5. If the named person does not request an administrative hearing as provided in this section, the person may not further challenge the finding and has no right to further agency review or to administrative hearing or judicial review of the finding.
  2. Department Procedures
    1. The CPS social worker must complete the Investigative Assessment and enter a finding in FamLink.
    2. The CPS worker must complete the client notification letter template for founded or unfounded investigative results, as appropriate to the finding entered.
    3. Per local office procedure, assigned staff must generate and send the client notification letter to the CPS supervisor for review. After review and approval, the CPS supervisor must sign the letter and provide the letter to the tracking clerk for mailing.
    4. The tracking clerk must send each notification letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, and must maintain a tracking system for the notification process. For notification of founded allegations, the clerk must send the letters by certified mail, restricted delivery.
    5. When the social worker or the worker's supervisor determines that notification by personal delivery is in the best interests of the alleged perpetrator's family, the assigned social worker may personally deliver the notification letter to the alleged perpetrator.
      1. The social worker must document personal delivery in the FamLink casenote and notify the tracking clerk that the worker delivered the notification letter in person.
      2. If the subject of the intake refuses to accept the in-person delivery, the social worker must arrange for the tracking clerk to send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery.
    6. When the CA office receives a request for an internal review regarding a founded report, the tracking clerk determines if the alleged perpetrator has made the request within 20 calendar days of the alleged perpetrator's receipt of the notification letter.
      1. If the alleged perpetrator made the request within the required timeframe, the tracking clerk sends the request to the area manager or DLR/CPS section manager for an internal review of the finding.
      2. If the alleged perpetrator's request did not come within the designated timeframe, the CPS supervisor must notify the alleged perpetrator that the alleged perpetrator has no further right to review of the finding.
    7. The DCFS area manager, or designee, or DLR Director, as applicable, must complete the internal review. The review may include an interview with the social worker and/or the worker's supervisor. At a minimum, the internal review must include:
      1. A review of the case file, including the intake, casenotes, the Investigative Assessment, and the findings screen; and
      2. A review of any written information provided by the subject of the intake, but not an in-person meeting with the subject of the intake.
    8. The DCFS area manager, or designee, or DLR Director, as applicable, must notify the alleged perpetrator of the result of the review within 45 calendar days from the date the department received the request for review. The designated manager must:
      1. Provide the notification of the department’s determination in writing; and
      2. Send the notification by certified mail to the alleged perpetrator’s last known address.
    9. If the assigned manager or designee upholds the founded report of CA/N, the subject of the intake must request, in writing, an administrative hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings within 30 calendar days from the date the subject receives the department’s notice of decision.
    10. Assigned staff must document any change in findings made as a result of an internal review or an administrative hearing in FamLink. The assigned manager or designee provided security access to change the finding in FamLink must enter any change in finding within 10 working days of the decision to change the finding. The manager or designee must make the changes in the findings screen of FamLink so that the changed finding will be evident when the finding is subsequently called up in FamLink.
    11. All findings will remain in effect as originally determined pending any internal review or administrative hearing.

2560. Community Collaboration

2561. Community Involvement

DCFS managers, supervisors, and line staff are expected to allocate time to the development and maintenance of written operating agreements and collaborative working relationships with:

  1. Law enforcement agencies.
  2. Juvenile courts.
  3. Schools.
  4. Ethnic/minority communities.
  5. The medical community.
  6. Appropriate social service agencies.

2563. Military Personnel

CPS service guidelines for on-post military families shall be developed administratively with the base commander or commander's designee and the Regional Administrator or designee. Mutually developed written guidelines and procedures may include, but are not necessary for, off-post families.

2570. Law Enforcement

2571. Mandated Reports to Law Enforcement

  1. The social worker or supervisor shall report, as required by RCW 26.44.030(4) and 74.13.031(3), to law enforcement within 24 hours of receipt of a report by the department in cases where the response time is labeled "emergent" and the child's welfare is believed to be in immediate danger. With the exception of a child fatality, which the social worker or supervisor shall report immediately, the social worker or supervisor shall notify law enforcement within 72 hours of receipt of any reported incident of:
    1. Sexual abuse.
    2. Non-accidental physical injury of a child.
    3. Incidents where the investigation reveals reasonable cause to believe that a crime against a child may have been committed.
  2. Unless otherwise agreed in a local written working agreement with law enforcement, developed in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, DCFS staff making an oral report to law enforcement shall, within five days of receipt of the intake, also report in writing. The person making the report shall file a copy in the department case record or in an administrative file when no case record exists. A FamLink Law Enforcement Report or a legibly completed Report of CA/N, DSHS 14-260(X), may be used to comply with the requirement for a written referral.
  3. Social workers and supervisors are not required by statute to report to law enforcement instances of CA/N where no criminal misconduct is reported or discovered. Parenting, child rearing practices, or other life circumstances which may be reported to the department for social assessment are not required to be reported to law enforcement when they do not indicate criminal misconduct against children.

2572. Criminal History Checks

  1. Each DCFS office has access to criminal arrest and conviction information maintained by the Washington State Patrol Identification section. Local social workers and supervisors make requests following instructions in the CA Operations Manual, chapter 5000, section 5500. The social worker must include documentation in the service record that each of the following conditions exists before making the inquiry:
    1. The inquiry is about an alleged perpetrator in an open CPS case.
    2. The alleged CA/N incident has been reported to law enforcement as required by RCW 26.44.030.
    3. The information being requested can reasonably be expected to help in assessing or reducing risk to the alleged victim as mandated in RCW 26.44.050 and RCW 74.13.031.
  2. As part of the criminal background check, the worker must contact local law enforcement agencies, including tribal police if the person resides or has resided on an Indian reservation or is known to be or may be affiliated with a particular Tribe.
  3. Information gained will be subject to public disclosure policy as outlined in chapters 43.43 and 10.97 RCW and the CA Operations Manual, chapter 13000, section 13500.

2573. Law Enforcement Assistance

  1. A social worker may request the assistance/accompaniment of a law enforcement officer in situations that may be dangerous to the worker or when the worker believes a child may need to be taken into protective custody.
  2. A social worker may receive children taken into custody under RCW 26.44.050 from law enforcement with a Child Custody Transfer, DSHS 10-157(X), or an equivalent emergency placement authorization signed by the authorizing law enforcement officer.

2574. Law Enforcement Agreement

Each CA office must develop a written working agreement with each law enforcement agency in its catchment area. Such agreements will detail local mechanisms for handling matters contained in sections 2571 - 2773.

2575. Confidentiality of Records

CA records are confidential, and CA staff must not disclose them to law enforcement other than as described above. Law enforcement or the prosecutor may subpoena other information from the CA record. See CA Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 4000, section 4120.

2576. Conflict of Interest

  1. RCW 26.44.190 requires law enforcement agencies not to permit law enforcement officers to participate in the investigation of alleged abuse or neglect concerning a child with whom the officer is, or has been a parent, guardian, or foster parent. See the CA Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 2000, section 2131.
  2. To assist the law enforcement agency to meet this requirement, the assigned CA social worker must inform the law enforcement agency if CA’s records indicate that the assigned investigating officer is, or has been, a parent, guardian, or foster parent of the alleged child victim.
  3. If the law enforcement agency continues the investigative assignment with an officer who is the current foster parent of the alleged child victim, the CA social worker must remove the child from placement with the investigating officer.

2580. Children Missing from Care

Children missing from care are at great risk for victimization and exploitation. Many children do not perceive the inherent risks or see themselves as potential victims. When a child leaves care on his/her own, it may be done as a coping mechanism and perceived by him/her as the only option to solve a problem or address concerns or needs.

Because of possible dangers to a child, social workers and caregivers must consider a child missing from care as a major event that requires intensive and ongoing intervention. When a child is missing from care, social workers will ensure that timely reports are made to appropriate authorities and take action to locate the child and return him/her to an approved and appropriate placement.

When a child returns to care, social workers and caregivers should support the child to remain in care and involve the child when reviewing the case plan to ensure that the child's needs are adequately addressed and that the child has confidence about his/her future.

25801. Definitions

"Missing" child means any child up to 18 years of age for whom Children's Administration (CA) has custody and control (not including children in dependency guardianships) and:

  • The child's whereabouts are unknown; and/or
  • The child has left care without the permission of the child's caregiver or CA.

Children who are missing are categorized under one of the following definitions:

  1. "Taken From Placement" means that a child's whereabouts are unknown, and it is believed that the child is being or has been concealed, detained or removed by another person from a court-ordered placement and the removal, concealment or detainment is in violation of the court order.
  2. "Absence Not Authorized, Whereabouts Unknown" means the child is not believed to have been taken from placement, did not have permission to leave the placement, and there has been no contact with the child and the whereabouts of the child are unknown.
  3. "Absence Not Authorized, Whereabouts Known" means that a child has left his/her placement without permission and the social worker has some contact with the child or may periodically have information as to the whereabouts of the child.

25802. Reporting Children Missing from Care

  1. Required Timeframes for Reporting Children Missing from Care

    Caregivers, including foster parents, relative caregivers and private agencies providing placement services, are required (WAC 388-148-0123) to report to the assigned CA social worker AND law enforcement when a child is missing from their care within the timeframes outlined below (A (1)(a-h) and (2)).

    1. Once notified that a child is missing from care, the assigned social worker must work with the caregiver to ensure that law enforcement is notified immediately when a child is missing from care and one or more of the following applies:
      1. The child has been, or is believed to have been, taken from placement as defined above.
      2. The child has been or is believed to have been lured from placement or to have left placement under circumstances that indicate the child may be at risk of physical or sexual assault or exploitation.
      3. The child is age 13 or younger.
      4. The child has one or more physical or mental health conditions that if not treated daily will place the child at severe risks.
      5. The child is pregnant or parenting and the infant/child is believed to be with him or her.
      6. The child has severe emotional problems (.e.g., suicidal ideations) that if not treated will place the child at severe risk.
      7. The child has a developmental disability that impairs the child's ability to care for him/herself.
      8. The child has a serious alcohol and/or substance abuse problem.
      9. The child is at risk due to circumstances unique to that child.
    2. If one or more of the items listed above (a-i) does not apply to the child missing from care, the assigned social worker must work with the caregiver to ensure that local law enforcement is contacted within six hours.

      If the child leaves school or has an unauthorized absence from school (and none of the factors listed in a-i apply), the CA social worker and caregiver should consult with one another to assess the situation and determine when it is appropriate to bring the situation to the attention of law enforcement.

      If the child does not return at the end of the school day, the caregiver and the social worker may decide to temporarily delay notification to law enforcement for up to 4 hours after the end of the school day. This decision must be made based on the individual case situation, in some situations it may be appropriate to provide the additional time to give the child the opportunity to return on his/her own.

  2. Information Required to Report to Law Enforcement
    1. The assigned social worker must ensure that the caregiver provides as much of the following information as is known, to law enforcement and to CA:
      1. a. Name and basic demographic information of the child
      2. When the child left
      3. Where the child left from
      4. What the child was wearing
      5. Any known behaviors or interactions that may have precipitated the child's departure
      6. Any possible places the child may go
      7. Any special physical or mental health conditions or medications that may affect the child's safety
      8. Any known companions who may be aware of and involved in the child's absence
      9. Other professionals, relatives, significant adults or peers who may know where the child might go
      10. A recent photo of the child.
  3. Reporting Requirements When a Child is Missing from Care
    1. Notification to the Assigned Social Worker when a Child is Missing from Care

      When a child is missing from care the assigned social worker will be made aware of the situation in one the following ways:

      1. The caretaker notifies the assigned social worker by telephone that the child is missing from care. The caretaker is required by (WAC 388-148-0123) to notify the social worker directly or make the report to CA intake if the social worker cannot be reached directly; or
      2. CA Intake completes a referral and notifies the assigned social worker or their supervisor (i.e. verbally or by e-mail) that a report of a missing child has come through CA intake; or
      3. The assigned social worker's supervisor notifies the assigned social worker, if CA intake was unable to make direct contact with the social worker.
    2. Assigned Social Worker - Requirements for Reporting
      1. When the assigned social worker learns of a child missing from care, the social worker must immediately:
        1. Confirm the child's current status with the caregiver.
        2. Confirm that the caretaker has reported the child's absence to law enforcement as required in items A (1&2) and B above. If law enforcement has not been informed the social worker will ensure that all required reports are made and in compliance with items A (1&2) and B above.
        3. Obtain the runaway report number once the information has been provided to law enforcement and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Missing Children Clearinghouse and document the number in an SER.

          Washington State Patrol
          Missing Children Clearinghouse
          PO Box 2347
          Building 17 Airdustrial Way
          Olympia WA 98507-2347
          Business Hours M-F 8:00-5:00
          Voice Mail available after hours
          (360) 586-0030
          800 543-5678
          (360) 704-2404 fax

        4. Complete an SER about the child's missing status and any other known information as listed in Section B above.
        5. Notify the child's legal parent and maintain communication with the parent during the child's absence, unless immediate contact with the legal parent would compromise the child's safety. If safety is a consideration, the social worker will notify the child's legal parent of the child's absence within 24 hours.
      2. The social worker will consult with the AAG regarding possible legal options. Depending on the youth's legal status and the specific court order, possible legal actions may include:
        1. Filing a motion with the court and requesting legal intervention; or
        2. Notifying the court of the youth's status of missing from placement without permission.
      3. The social worker must notify other critical persons in the child's life, including the child's attorney, CASA/GAL, counselor, by the next business day.
      4. The social worker will notify the child's school of the child's unauthorized absence from care, by the next school day.
    3. Intake - Requirements for Reporting

      Upon receiving a report of a child missing from care, the Intake worker must immediately:

      1. Complete an SER and notify the child's assigned social worker or the worker's supervisor, verbally or via e-mail, of the child's absence and any subsequent information received regarding the child.
      2. Confirm the assigned social work or the supervisor received the notification of the missing child, and document this confirmation in an SER.

        If the CA intake worker is unable to provide immediate notification and/or confirm that the assigned social worker or supervisor received the notification within one business day, the CA intake worker must:

        1. Provide this information to the Area Administrator; and
        2. Document confirmation of the notification of the AA in an SER.
  4. Regional and Headquarter Responsibilities Regarding Children Missing Care
    1. Regional Responsibilities
      CA Regions will maintain local office protocols for reporting missing children to local law enforcement. Generally, the protocol will include the issuance of a pickup order.

      CA Regional management will review the list of their missing children, and the adequacy of the strategies being pursued to find them, on a monthly basis. Regional reports regarding the missing children and search strategies will be updated monthly.

    2. Headquarters Field Operations
      The Field Operations Division will monitor the regional reports regarding missing children and the search strategies used.

25803. Searching for Children Missing from Care

  1. Social Worker Requirements for Searching for Children Missing from Care
    When searching for children missing from care, the assigned social worker is required to:
    1. Develop and implement strategies for actively searching for a child reported missing from care, in consultation with his/her supervisor. Guidelines on Searching for Missing Children should be considered when developing search strategies.
    2. Contact professionals and other persons involved in the child's life, (e.g., local treatment team members, family, and friends) to enlist their involvement in a "missing from care" staffing. This staffing must occur within three (3) business days of the youth leaving care. The staffing may be conducted in one of the following ways:
      1. In person or by phone; or
      2. Through Family Team Decision Making meetings, where available;
    3. Complete the Missing Child Staffing Checklist (DSHS Form 15-308) to document meetings and contacts made regarding the missing child and search strategies developed.
    4. Review the Missing Child Staffing Checklist weekly with the supervisor for the first month that the child is missing from care to update the supervisor on contacts made, information received and to develop and revise search strategies. Document these staffings in an SER. After the first 30 days the child is missing, review progress and changes with the supervisor monthly.
    5. Contact the caregiver to discuss whether the placement will be available to the youth upon his/her return. If the caregiver will not be a placement option, identify other preliminary placement options for the child's return.
  2. Supervisor Requirements for Searching for Children Missing from Care
    The supervisor will document the status of the search process in an SER in the supervisory review section of CAMIS.

25804. Return of Children Missing from Care

  1. Social Worker Requirements When a Child Missing from Care Returns
    When a child is located or returns to care, the social worker will:
    1. Notify law enforcement and the Missing Children Clearinghouse immediately and request that the pick up order be cancelled.
      1. Notify the child's legal parent and caregiver immediately.
      2. Notify any other individuals or agencies that were contacted after the child was reported missing, including the child's attorney, CASA/GAL, other professionals and the child's school by the following business day after a child is located or returns to care.
      3. Make certain a face-to-face debriefing is conducted with the child, within two (2) business days after the child is located or returns to care from an absence without authorization. Provide the child the option of meeting with the social worker, the caretaker, a neutral facilitator or another appropriate professional.
      4. Complete the Returning to Care De-briefing Form (DSHS form 15-309). If a person other than the child's assigned social worker is conducting the face to face debriefing, the assigned social worker is responsible for ensuring that the person completes the Returning Child De-briefing Form and returns it to the child's social worker. The completed De-briefing form is then placed in the case file and the social worker documents in an SER the efforts made to resolve issues raised during the interview.
      5. Work with the child to get appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible if, at any time after the child returns to care, the child discloses he/she has been ill, malnourished, sexually active, physically or sexually assaulted or exposed to other harmful conditions (e.g. methamphetamine production). The assigned social worker will report any allegations of child abuse or neglect to CA intake as outlined in RCW 26.44.030.
      6. Collaborate with the child to identify the need for any other medical exams, mental health services, substance abuse treatment or other supports.
      7. Provide the child with information from the National Runaway Hotline or other relevant resources.
      8. Collaborate with the child to develop a plan to address the child's safety, placement stability and service needs.
      9. Update the child's placement status in CAMIS.
      10. Place a current photograph in the child's case file.
  2. The social worker will convene a meeting with the child within three (3) business days after a child returns to care to discuss the child's needs and placement options and other resources to support the child. When appropriate, the social worker may also invite the child's caregiver, parents, siblings, other relatives and other professionals to the meeting with the child.

    Youth who return to care must be given the opportunity to invite people who can provide support during this planning process.

    If the youth is likely to leave again without authorization, service and treatment planning should address:

    1. The individual needs of the youth that lead to the running behavior; and
    2. Placement options in the event of another absence.

25805. Documenting Children Missing from Care

  1. Documentation requirements for the assigned social worker
    Upon learning of the child's missing status, the assigned social worker will immediately:
    1. Document in an SER that the child is missing from care and include any other known information as outlined in 45502 Reporting Children Missing from Care - Section B - Information Required to Report to Law Enforcement.
    2. Document the Washington State Patrol (WSP) missing persons report number in an SER.
    3. Identify the placement event in CAMIS as "on the run."
    4. Notify his/her supervisor and document in an SER when and how the supervisor was notified.
    5. Document staffings with the supervisor to review the Missing Child Staffing Checklist in an SER.
    6. Document any contact with a missing child in an SER, and other contact disclosing critical information related to the child's health, safety or whereabouts and any follow-up action taken.
    7. Document efforts made to resolve issues raised during the de-briefing interview with the child who has returned to care.
    8. Update the child's placement status in CAMIS when the child has returned to care.
  2. Documentation requirements for the Supervisor
    The supervisor must document in an SER the review and approval of the Missing Child Staffing Check List.


2610. Supervisory Review

The supervisor must review all cases open to CPS to determine if:

  1. The case record and electronic file are complete.
  2. The investigation is complete and no other action is necessary.
  3. The 45-day rule requirement has been met.
  4. The case may continue.
    1. The supervisor may consider transfer of case to Family Voluntary Services (FVS) or Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) social worker when the criterion above has been completed and there is an identified need to continue department involvement.
    2. The supervisor may refer the case back for further investigation if the investigation is not complete or additional action is necessary.
  5. The supervisor must document the reasons for the 90-day review decision in the CAMIS SER.



  1. The social worker may close cases with voluntary case plans when the safety threats have been reduced or eliminated and the parent or caregiver has the protective capacity sufficient to independently protect their children.
  2. The social worker may close other cases in which there is a continuing risk of CA/N but which are not likely to be resolved through treatment efforts when:
    1. Further voluntary services are not available or accepted.
    2. There is no plan to file a dependency petition.
  3. The social worker must not close cases for service while a dependency order or voluntary placement agreement is in effect or within six months of the time a child is returned to parental care as a result of a dependency order.
  4. The social worker must properly complete all forms and narrative recording within 90 calendar days of a decision to terminate services and close a case. The supervisor must review both FamLink and the folder for accuracy and completeness and document the review in FamLink before closure or transfer to another service.

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