1120. Safety Assessment

Original Date: December 2011

Revised Date:  May 9, 2022

Sunset Review: May 9, 2026

Approval: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on completing a safety assessment. A safety assessment is:

  • A family assessment based on comprehensive information gathered throughout the life of a case.
  • Used to identify safety threats and determine if a Safety Plan is needed because children or youth are unsafe.
  • To determine the level of supervision during family time visits. 

For Licensing Division Child Protective Services (LD CPS) investigators, also follow the LD CPS Use of Safety Assessment and Safety Planning Tools policy.

Scope

This policy applies to child welfare (CW) and LD foster care employees.

Laws

RCW 26.44.030 Reports, duty and authority to make, duty of receiving agency, duty to notify, case planning and consultation, penalty for unauthorized exchange of information, filing dependency petitions, investigations, interviews of children, records, risk assessment process

RCW 26.44.195  Negligent treatment or maltreatment, offer services, evidence of substance abuse, in-home services, initiation of dependency proceedings

PL 105-89 Adoption Safe Family Act

Policy

  1. DCYF must determine children or youth’s safety by gathering and assessing comprehensive information about a family's behaviors, functioning, and conditions.
  2. Caseworkers must complete a Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink:
    1. At key decision points in a case to determine if safety threats exist and whether a safety plan can be developed with families to control or manage the identified threats.
    2. To determine the level of supervision needed for family time. 
  3. CW and LD foster care employees must follow the Documentation policy.

Procedures

  1. Safety Assessment Completion Process
    1. Caseworkers must:
      1. Complete, review, update, and document a Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink at the following key points in a case:
        1. On all screened-in CPS intakes, including new intakes on active cases, no later than 30 calendar days from the date intake was received.
        2. During the completion of the Comprehensive Family Evaluation (CFE) DCYF 10-480 form in FamLink.
        3. Before recommending unsupervised or overnight visits.
        4. When considering reunification or trial return home.
        5. When there is a change in household members, including those living on the premises who may have frequent contact with children or youth.
        6. When visitors reside on the premises more than five calendar days and children or youth are either:
          1. In-home.
          2. Placed out-of-home and having unsupervised family time in the parent’s home.
        7. At case transfer.
        8. When considering case closure or new safety or risk factors have been identified since the most recent Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form was completed in FamLink.
        9. Before 30-day shelter care hearings and orders authorizing continued shelter care, for the purpose of assessing the level of supervision for family time.
      2. Determine if children or youth are safe or unsafe by:
        1. Gathering and assessing information through a review of CW history that includes prior intakes, service interventions, interviews, and observations.
        2. Verifying information through source documents and contacts with collaterals. Information collected will include, but is not limited to, the following Gathering Questions:
          1. Nature and extent of the maltreatment
          2. Sequence of events that accompany the maltreatment
          3. Child functioning on a daily basis
          4. Parental disciplinary practices
          5. General parenting practices
          6. Adult functioning
      3. Consider and evaluate each potential safety threat using the five safety threshold criteria to determine if safety threats exist.
    2. Follow the Safety Plan policy by completing a new safety plan on the Safety Assessment /Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink as threats emerge or are eliminated throughout the life of the case.
  2. Safety Assessment Results
    1. When caseworkers have completed the Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink and determined whether children or youth are:
      1. Safe, they must submit the assessment for supervisor approval
      2. Unsafe, they must:
        1. Complete the Safety Plan Analysis questions in FamLink to determine if either:
          1. An in-home safety plan can manage or control the safety threats. When a safety plan is identified as being needed, follow the Safety Plan policy.
          2. Out-of-home placement is necessary. When this is determined necessary, follow the Placement Out of Home and Conditions for Return Home policy.
        2. Submit the Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form to supervisor for approval in FamLink.
    2. When LD CPS investigators notify caseworkers that a child or youth in DCYF care and custody is unsafe with their licensed or unlicensed caregivers, caseworkers must remove the children or youth from their placement and follow the Placement Out of home and Conditions for Return Home policy.
    3. When LD CPS investigators and caseworkers disagree about safety threats:
      1. LD CPS investigators must refer to LD CPS Use of Safety Assessment and Safety Planning Tools policy.
      2. LD CPS investigators and caseworkers must refer to Appendix C: Shared Decision Making.
  3. Family Time Level of Supervision
    Caseworkers must complete the following after the emergent 72-hour initial visit¸ per the Family Time and Sibling and Relative Visits policy:
    1. Review the Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink using the five safety threshold criteria for each parent or guardian to determine the level of supervision for family time prior to the following court hearings.
      1. 30-day shelter care hearings and orders authorizing continued shelter care
      2. Review hearings
      3. Permanency planning hearings
    2. Once the five safety threshold criteria have been reviewed to establish if there are any identified safety threats, determine if they can be managed without supervision during the limited amount time required during visits. The Supervision Level Family Time Resource Guide DCYF 10-031 form may be used to assist with this determination. 
      1. The types of family time include:
        1. Unsupervised which require parents or guardians to:
          1. Be the primary caregivers.
          2. Be able to demonstrate the willingness and ability to safely care for children or youth for the duration of the family time.
          3. Protect children or youth from any safety threats.
        2. Monitored which require parents or guardians to be the primary caregivers during family time, while an approved adult is available to periodically observe and intervene if needed. Parents or guardians must demonstrate the willingness and ability to manage any safety threats and safely care for their children or youth during family time.
        3. Supervised which requires an approved adult to maintain line of sight and sound supervision and intervene if needed.
      2. Family time must be:
        1. Unsupervised if any of the five safety threshold criteria  are not met.
        2. Monitored if all five criteria are met but monitoring family time can mitigate the safety threat. To determine if monitoring family time can mitigate the safety threat:
          1. Discuss the decision for them to be monitored with the supervisor.
          2. Complete the Safety Plan Analysis in FamLink.
        3. Supervised if all five criteria are met and monitoring family time cannot mitigate the safety threat.
    3. For 30-day shelter care hearings, contact the assigned Assistant Attorney General to determine what needs to be provided to the court when recommending a monitored or supervised family time.
    4. Documentation
      1. Document the evidence supporting the level of supervision for family time in the following locations in FamLink per the Family Time and Sibling and Relative Visits policy for:
        1. 30-day Shelter Care Hearings and orders authorizing continued shelter care, document in the “Document Family Time Supervision Level Evidence for each parent" section of the Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form in FamLink.
        2. Review and Permanency Planning Hearings, document in the “Visitation Section” of the Court Report in FamLink or attach the updated Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form to the Court Report.
      2. Document in FamLink:
        1. When efforts are made to consult with law enforcement (LE) regarding changes to family time or sibling visits because a parent or guardian or sibling has been identified as a suspect in an active criminal investigation for a violent crime that may impact child safety in relation to family time.
        2. When consulting with the AAGs prior to the dissemination of any information about the parent or sibling suspect shared by LE.
  4. Safety Assessment Approval Process
    Supervisors must review the safety assessments in FamLink for approval. If not approved, return it to the caseworker for revisions.

Forms

Comprehensive Family Evaluation  DCYF 10-480

Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258

Safety Plan DCYF 15-259

Supervision Level Family Time Resource Guide DCYF 10-031 form (located on the DCYF Forms Repository on the DCYF intranet)

Resources

Appendix C: Shared Decision Making

Case Transfer policy

Documentation policy

Family Time and Sibling and Relative Visits policy

Five Safety Threshold Criteria

LD CPS Use of Safety Assessment and Safety Planning Tools policy

Information Gathering Questions

Placement Out of home and Conditions for Return Home policy

Safety Plan policy

Safety Plan Analysis Guide

Safety Threats Guide (located on the DCYF CA intranet)

Safety Threshold Guide

Trial Return Home policy