2200. Intake Process and Response

Original Date: September 27, 1995

Revised Date: June 9, 2022

Sunset Review Date: June 30, 2026

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) receives and processes reports of child abuse and neglect, requests for services and provides information and referrals according to federal and state law on a 24-hour basis.


This policy applies to child welfare intake employees.


Chapter 74.13 RCW Child Welfare Services

Chapter 74.15 RCW Care of Children, Expectant Mothers, Persons with Developmental Disabilities

RCW 9A.16.100 Use of force on children-Policy-Actions presumed unreasonable

RCW 13.34.030 Juvenile Court Act – Definitions

RCW 13.34.360 Transfer of Newborn to Qualified Person – Criminal Liability – Notification to Child Protective Services – Definitions

RCW 26.44.020 Abuse of Children – Definitions

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 46.61.687 Child Restraint System Required-Conditions-Exceptions-Penalty for Violation-Dismissal-Noncompliance Not Negligence-Immunity


  1. Intake workers will:
    1. Conduct a comprehensive interview with any referrer, including making reasonable efforts to learn the referrer’s name, address, and telephone number and conduct a FamLink person search for all persons, victims, perpetrators, parents, and family members listed in the intake.
    2. Contact and document collateral source information in order to complete a comprehensive intake when:
      1. Sufficient information is not available from the referrer to determine the intake screening decision or appropriate response time.
      2. It is necessary to verify or clarify a child abuse or neglect (CA/N) allegation.
    3. Process reports with allegations of CA/N, circumstances placing a child at imminent risk of serious harm and requests for services specific to DCYF from any source and in any form, and document in an intake.
      1. Sufficiency Screening
        Screen-in intakes for Child Protective Services (CPS) intervention if the following sufficiency screening criteria are met:
        1. The alleged victim is under 18 years of age;
        2. The allegation, if true, minimally meets the WAC definition of CA/N or it is alleged a child’s circumstances place them at imminent risk of serious harm; and
        3. The alleged subject has the role of a parent, person acting in loco parentis, or unknown; or
        4. The subject is providing care in a facility subject to licensing by DCYF, or in other state-regulated care.
      2. Allegations of CA/N or Imminent Risk of Serious Harm
        Utilize the FamLink intake, Chronicity Indicator, Structured Decision Making (SDM) Intake, and the Training Guide for Intake located on the DCYF intranet to determine assignment to CPS Investigation, CPS Family Assessment Response (FAR), or for Licensing Division (LD) formerly Division of Licensed Resources CPS.
        1. Screen-in for:
          1. CPS or LD CPS Investigation when there is an allegation of:
            1. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.
            2. Serious physical abuse or serious neglect.
            3. Physical abuse to a child under the age of four for DCYF.
            4. Abuse or neglect reported by a physician, or a medical professional on a physician’s behalf, regarding a child under age five.
            5. Injury or bruise on a non-mobile infant, from birth to 12 months of age regardless of the explanation about how the injury or bruise occurred.
          2. CPS or LD CPS Investigation when a report is received from a commissioned law enforcement (LE) officer stating a parent has been arrested for criminal mistreatment in the fourth degree per chapter 9A.42 RCW
          3. CPS Investigation when:
            1. Child or youth in the household is having sexualized contact or engaging in sexual behaviors with other children or youth in the home. For behaviors that may be considered common for childhood development, see Sexual Development and Behavior in Children.
            2. There is an open dependency case involving the child victim or other member of the household.
            3. A dependency action, closed within the previous 12 months, involving the child victim or a household member who may be a parent, guardian, caregiver of the child, or other adult who resides in the home.
            4. An alleged victim or subject is named in three or more intakes screened-in for investigation or FAR in the past 12 months.
          4. CPS FAR when it is indicated on the SDM Screening Tool.
          5. LD CPS Investigation when there is an allegation of CA/N in a facility subject to licensing by LD or DCYF or the facility is state regulated. Follow the intake requirements in the DLR CPS Handbook – Investigating Abuse and Neglect in State-Regulated Care.
        2. Screen-in CPS Risk Only reports when a child is at imminent risk of serious harm and there are no CA/N allegations. These include, but are not limited to reports:
          1. From law enforcement (LE) about a sexually aggressive youth under age eight.
          2. From the prosecutor's office about a sexually aggressive youth under age 12 who will not be prosecuted.
          3. Involving CA/N allegations against an individual age 18 through 20 residing in a state-regulated or licensed facility or facility subject to licensing.
          4. Involving CA/N allegations against an individual age 18 through 24 who reside in a juvenile rehabilitation (JR) facility.
          5. Of a child at imminent risk of serious harm on an open DCYF case.
          6. Of a child at imminent risk of serious harm in the care of a licensed or unlicensed provider.
        3. Screen-in reports made by a physician licensed under chapter 18.71 RCW on the basis of expert medical opinion that child abuse, neglect, or sexual assault may have or has occurred and that the child's safety will be seriously endangered if the child is returned home, per RCW 26.44.030(8)
        4. Screen-in reports from anonymous referrers when alleged CA/N meets the sufficiency screening criteria or there is imminent risk of serious harm and one or more of the following exists:
          1. There is a serious threat of substantial harm to a child.
          2. The allegations includes conduct involving a criminal offense that has, or is about to occur, in which the child is the victim.
          3. A member of the household has a prior founded report of CA/N within three years of receiving the most recent intake. 
        5. Inform the referrer that, if  they choose to remain anonymous and the allegation is assessed at a lower risk, the intake, with the exception of LD CPS, will screen-out and will not be assigned for CPS or FAR investigation.
        6. Screen-in all reports of CA/N or imminent risk of serious harm involving a facility or a facility subject to licensing, regardless of the anonymity of the referrer.
        7. Screen-in reports involving a newborn exposed to substances including alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and any drug with abuse potential to the following pathways:
          1. CPS Risk Only when there is no CA/N allegation but the newborn is one of the following:
            1. Substance affected, as identified by a medical practitioner.
            2. Substance exposed and risk factors indicate imminent risk of serious harm.
          2. CPS Investigation or FAR or LD CPS Investigation when there is a CA/N allegation.
      3. Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC):
        1. Complete the CSEC screening question for all intakes involving suspected or confirmed allegations of sexual exploitation of a child or youth.
        2. Assign all intakes with suspected or confirmed allegations of CSEC to CPS or LD CPS investigations when there are allegations of CA/N and the alleged subject is a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or person acting in loco-parentis.
        3. Notify LE within 24-hours of the time the intake is received on all suspected or confirmed CSEC related intakes when there is reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The intake worker will notify the LE agency with jurisdiction when the 24-hour notification requirement cannot be met by an assigned caseworker or field supervisor managing the straw assignments.
      4. Unregulated Child Custody Transfers
        1. Follow the Training Guide for Intake when reports are received alleging unregulated custody transfers of adopted children or youth.
        2. Complete intake screening decisions following Policy Section 1.c.
      5. Requests for services for a family or child (Non CPS)
        1. Screen-in intakes for:
          1. Family Voluntary Services (FVS) when a parent or legal guardian requests services in the home or temporary placement of a child, and there is no anticipated court involvement.
          2. Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) when receiving a request:
            1. For a family assessment for a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) or an At Risk Youth (ARY) petition.
            2. From a youth age 12-17, parent, (custodial or noncustodial), caregiver, LE, Tribal or DCYF caseworker, HOPE Center, Crisis Residential Center (CRC), or Overnight Youth Shelter (OYS) staff when at least one family member requests immediate assistance from DCYF for a family experiencing immediate family crisis due to conflict or a youth exhibiting high risk behaviors.
          3. The following pathways when receiving reports from a CRC, Hope Center or OYS involving a runaway youth and there are no allegations of CA/N:
            1. FRS for youth age 12 and older.
            2. FVS for youth under age 12.
          4. The following pathways when there are no allegations of CA/N regarding a parent or caregiver and requests are received for services involving commercially sexually exploited children and youth and the request is made by the youth, parent or other community member:
            1. FRS for youth age 12 and older.
            2. FVS for youth under age 12.
          5. Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) when:
            1. Services are requested for a family or child, the request is appropriate and there is service availability. The caregiver, child, community member or other child welfare agency may make a service request.
            2. A parent transfers a newborn, birth to 72-hours old, anonymously at a hospital emergency room, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic if open and personnel are present to accept the child, per RCW 13.34.360.
          6. Extended Foster Care (EFC) for youth 18 through 20 years old requesting services and who were dependent on their 18th birthday. This includes dependent youth in the custody of JR, DOC, county detention, or jail and who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria. The intake is assigned to the local office in the nearest area where the youth currently resides.
          7. Non-CPS rule infraction on reports regarding LD or DCYF licensed home or facility that do not contain allegations of CA/N.
          8. Non-CPS rule infraction on reports regarding an illegally operating child care or foster home that does not contain allegations of CA/N.
          9. Title IV-E and non-Title IV-E Tribal Placement or Payment Only on all tribal payment requests, for both open and closed cases, unless it is a modification to an existing payment-only case.
        2. Refer all inquiries regarding adoption to a foster care licensing supervisor.
      6. Indian Child Welfare (ICW)
        1. Make efforts to determine if a child is affiliated with a federally recognized Tribe. Refer to the Intake Referral and After-Hours Field Response Coordination with Washington State Federally Recognized Tribes  and Tribal Agreements located on the ICW page on the DCYF intranet.
        2. If a child or family is affiliated with a Washington state federally recognized Tribe:
          1. Attempt collateral contact with the Tribe prior to making a screening decision.
          2. Document the contact or attempts in the ICW tab in the CA Intake.
          3. Follow ICW Manual Chapter 1.
      7. Law Enforcement (LE)
        1. Consult immediately with the intake supervisor if there is an indication the child may be in present danger and a LE child welfare check may be needed, per the Present Danger policy.
        2. Follow Mandated Reports to Law Enforcement policy.
      8. Domestic Violence (DV)
        1. Screen-in for DV on all intakes by asking the following universal screening questions, “Has any adult used or threatened to use physical force against an adult in the home?” If so, the intake worker must ask, “Who did what to whom?”
        2. Offer DV resource information to the referrer on all screened-in or out intakes when DV is identified and the referrer is not familiar with DV resources. Resource information is located at Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the DSHS DV site.
      9. Contracted Provider
        1. Screen-out CPS intakes regarding a contracted provider not acting as:

          That does not have a DCYF license as third party and send the report to LE if an alleged crime has been committed.

          1. Parent,
          2. Guardian, or
          3. Loco-Parentis
        2. Complete the DCYF survey monkey complaint tool, not an intake, when receiving non-CPS complaints regarding contracted providers that do not have a DCYF license.
        3. Inform the DCYF headquarters contracts monitoring manager when made aware of a screened-in CPS intake related to the following persons or their biological family:
          1. A contracted provider who is not licensed or subject to be licensed by DCYF, or
          2. An employee or sub-contractor of the provider.
      10. Alerts and Requests from Other States 
        1. Generate an intake when an alert or request is received from another state.
          1. Screen-in intakes when the child is in Washington State and there are allegations of CA/N that occurred in Washington State meeting the sufficiency screen or there is imminent risk of serious harm.
          2. Screen out the intake when it is determined the child is not in Washington State.
        2. Screen out intakes with requests for courtesy home walkthroughs or child welfare checks for a child residing in Washington State if there are not allegations of CA/N or imminent risk of harm and refer to appropriate resources, such as Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) or LE.
      11. After Business Hours, Weekends and State Holidays Intake Response  
        1. The intake worker immediately notifies the intake supervisor of an emergent intake, no later than one hour after determining it is emergent.
        2. The intake supervisor will contact the after-hours supervisor or  area administrator for an after-hours response when:
          1. A child is in present or impending danger.
          2. A face-to-face cannot be completed during normal business hours.
      12. Additional Requirements
        1. Provide assurance to referrers that DCYF will make all legal and reasonable efforts to maintain their confidentiality.
        2. Inform the referrer their name may be disclosed for:
          1. Court proceedings.
          2. Dependency or criminal court proceedings.
          3. Criminal Investigations by LE including malicious or false  reporting.
          4. When the court orders disclosure.
        3. Inform the referrer that reports or testimony made in good faith have immunity under RCW 26.44.060.
        4. Generate an intake regardless of where the child resides in Washington State.
        5. Generate a new intake on an open case when a report is received alleging a new  CA/N. If the intake is screened-in, the case will be assigned to a CPS caseworker.
        6. Identify a minor child as a subject only when they are the parent of the alleged victim.
        7. Generate and screen-out an intake when a report is received about a pregnant woman’s alleged abuse of substances and if there is no CA/N allegation or imminent risk of serious harm regarding children in her care. Substances can include alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and any drug with abuse potential.
        8. Generate a new screened-out intake when a DCYF caseworker receives additional reports of the same CA/N allegations that are already documented in an intake, excluding facility related intakes and:
          1. Select the reason code option of “Allegation Documented in Previous Intake.”
          2. Include the previous intake number in the explanation dialogue box in Decision tab in FamLink.
          3. The supervisor must confirm all allegations were previously documented.
        9. Complete the following when any child is reported to intake as Missing from Care (MFC).
          1. Notify the assigned caseworker and  their supervisor of any child MFC. Refer to the Training Guide for Intake on the DCYF intranet for notification details.
          2. Document the notification in a case note.
        10. Follow the Photograph Documentation policy when a photograph is received.
        11. Follow the Audio Recording policy when an audio recording is received.
        12. Respond to inquiry only calls by providing resource information as requested and available. Inquiry calls are not documented in FamLink because there is no CA/N allegation, concern or request for services specific to DCYF, and do not require screening.
    4. Create and document the intake in FamLink on the date and time DCYF receives the information. Complete the intake according to the following timeframes and intake pathways:
      1. Four hours:
        1. Emergent CPS, CFWS, CPS Risk Only, or LD CPS
        2. CFWS emergent placement and Safe Haven
        3. FRS
      2. Four business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays)
        1. Non-Emergent  Investigation
        2. FAR
        3. Non-Emergent LD CPS
      3. Two business days (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays)
        1. Information Only
        2. Third Party
        3. CFWS
        4. Rule Infraction
        5. ICPC Home Study, per ICPC Placed in Washington State policy.
  2. The intake supervisor will:
    1. Review all intakes to make a final screening decision and pathway assignment. The final screening decision is based upon information in the intake and FamLink, and critical thinking that balances child safety, risk and mitigating factors.
    2. Restrict intake or case records during the process of documenting an intake and notify -the area administrator when it is learned:
      1. The subject, victim, or client is an employee or family member of DCYF.
      2. The case is high profile. High profile cases include those involving a child fatality or near-fatality, reports in the media about events in a new intake, a child in an open case is the subject of an Amber Alert, or a parent or caregiver has been arrested as the suspect of child abuse or neglect in a new intake.
      3. The appointing authority determines it is necessary.
    3. Review the case history and current allegations on all screened-out intakes that have the chronicity flag indicated to:
      1. Review and document patterns or history to determine if cumulative harm exists. RCW 26.44.020 (17)
      2. Assess if a call back to the referrer or collateral contact is necessary for additional information to make a final screening decision.
    4. Review FamLink Desktop alerts during their shift prior to clearing intakes. If there is an alert on a child identified in the intake, he or she will notify the assigned office immediately.
    5. Document an intake time frame extension in a case note explaining the rationale within seven calendar days of granting the extension. Extensions, not to exceed two hours, are only approved by the intake supervisor to allow intake staff additional time to complete collateral contacts.


When completing an intake, the intake worker will follow steps outlined in the Training Guide for Intake..


Intake Report DCYF 14-260 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)


DLR CPS Handbook-Investigating Abuse and Neglect in State-Regulated Care Mandated Reporter Toolkit (located on the DCYF intranet, under programs, LD, LD CPS)

Mandated Reporter Toolkit

Licensing Division Child Abuse and Neglect Practice Guide

Screening and Assessment Response Policy and Procedures

Sexual Development and Behavior in Children

Training Guide for Intake (located on the Intake & CPS page on the DCYF intranet)

Unregulated Child Custody Transfers Facts and Responsibilities Sheet (located on the DCYF intranet in the CPS/Intake section)