Safety model frequently asked questions

Child Protective Services


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Question: How does early service provision fit into the Oregon Safety Model?
Answer: During a comprehensive CPS assessment, families may be asked to participate in assessment services. This may include an A&D evaluation, mental health assessment, etc. The caseworker should not recommend a family engage in specific services nor should the caseworker recommend specific change services in information provided to the court until we have a thorough understanding of each parent’s protective capacities. To effectively sustain child safety and to develop a case plan designed to achieve lasting change (expected outcomes) services must be tailored to build on enhanced protective capacities and address diminished protective capacities.

Question: When should a caseworker seek Protective Custody and/or Court Intervention?
Answer: If the child welfare assessment of the parent or caregiver’s willingness and ability to protect indicates the child cannot be safe unless there is no contact or only supervised contact with one or both parents, DHS must bring that concern to the attention of the court by filing a juvenile court petition. During the CPS assessment, the caseworker may, on a very limited basis, develop a temporary “protective action” such as one parent leaving the home voluntarily or a temporary plan being implemented with a safe and available family member while necessary interviews are completed. Such a temporary “protective action” can only be considered if DHS can rely on the parent to accept the temporary “protective action” and not compromise the safety of the child (ren). These are immediate, short term interventions to manage child safety. These actions must be reviewed as soon as additional information is obtained to determine the ongoing plan that best manages child safety. If DHS determines that the ongoing safety plan will require that parental contact with the child be restricted or that the child be placed in a substitute care placement, then DHS must seek the intervention of the court. The court has authority to limit parent/child contact and can provide the parent due process - notice of and an opportunity to respond to the allegations of abuse.


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Question: When should a caseworker use a Voluntary Intervention?
Answer: If DHS determines, during the CPS assessment, that child safety can be managed and controlled in the child’s own home and there is no need to restrict parental contact with the child or that the child does not need to be placed in substitute care, DHS may develop an in-home safety plan and may provide voluntary services. An in-home safety plan can only be monitored voluntarily by DHS if the CPS worker has determined that the parents are willing and able to comply with the in-home plan without court ordered intervention and oversight. Voluntary services are not intended to be used in lieu of court ordered services or protective custody when the CPS worker cannot rely on the willingness and ability of the parents to comply with the in-home safety plan.

Question:   My office recently received the 1534 form (NCR copy of the Protective Action).  Is this a required form and does the completion of this form mean I don’t have to document the Protective Action in the FACIS assessment?
Answer: The 1534 form was developed at the request of several caseworkers and supervisors to assist with the need to give the parent the Protective Action plan to assist in their understanding. 


The 1534 does not replace the required documentation in the FACIS assessment, protective action tab.  Documentation of the Protective Action in FACIS needs to be completed within five business days following the identification of a safety threat. 


There is also no requirement for caseworkers to use the 1534.  The required documentation of the Protective Action is in the FACIS assessment. 


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Question: If the transfer from an Intake Worker to a Permanency Worker occurs prior to the development and completion of the 333 does the 307 act as a narrative that would relieve the Intake worker from doing a transfer narrative or is a transfer narrative required?
Answer: That is correct.  According the narrative recording rule I.I.2 there is no need for a transfer narrative.  The necessary documentation is in the assessment narrative and the ongoing safety plan. 

Question: Staff are asking …

The wording on the 1147 - Identified Safety Threats to Child(ren):  reads
State the safety threats that were identified in the CPS assessment to which the child was vulnerable and for which there was insufficient parental protective capacity.

This wording is confusing and caseworkers are asking if they should use the allegations in the petition (the ones to which the court took jurisdiction) or the new language?

If the case was open prior to 3/20/07 - should they use the same language from the 307 with the old safety threat definition, or change to the new wording?

Please address these questions specific to the 1147 and 1149 - where do the users address the allegations from the petition which are usually different than what were listed on the 307?


Answer: At the end of the CPS assessment an Ongoing Safety Plan is developed only when there are identified safety threats that are unmanaged.   The wording on petitions should be similar to the safety threats identified because the unmanaged safety threats are the reason the child is unsafe and the reason for the petition.


So, the appropriate answer to "State the safety threats that were identified in the CPS assessment to which the child was vulnerable and for which there was insufficient parental protective capacity" is the identified, unmanaged safety threats.  These unmanaged safety threats are what require continued Child Welfare intervention (and juvenile court involvement) to occur as well as the development of the Ongoing Safety Plan. 


If the case was open prior to 3/20/07, the new safety threats should be applied and clearly documented in the Action Agreement (1147) and the Ongoing Safety Plan (1149).


Where to find it in the Procedural Manual:
Determine if there is a safety threat:  Chapter 2 Assessment:  Section: 5 Pages: 1-2
Develop an Ongoing Safety Plan:  Chapter 2 Assessment:  Section 13 Pages:  1-2

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Question: I am completing the needed documentation for a Protective Action.  Is there a list of questions I could consider in order to get the Protective Action appropriately documented?


Answer: Here are a list of questions you should consider when documenting a Protective Action:
  1. Explain the safety threats that necessitated the Protective Action:
    • What is the safety threat I am concerned with?
    • How does the safety threat make the child/children unsafe?
    • Who or what is making the child unsafe and how? 

  2. Explain the specifics of the Protective Action, including caregiver contact that is allowed during the Protective Action:
    • Outline the Protective Action. (How will child safety be managed?)
    • Who will be involved in the Protective Action? 
    • What will they be responsible for?  How will they provide safety for the child?  Be specific about when and where this will occur. 
      When is the caregiver allowed to have contact during the Protective Action?
    • How do I know the Protective Action will work?

  3. Justify the suitability of the safety service provider:
    • How is the safety service provider suitable to provide protection?
    • Do they believe the child needs protection?
    • Is it clear that people involved and responsible for the Protective Action understand and believe the safety threats?
    • How do I know the safety service providers are willing/able?
    • Are the safety service providers’ trustworthy, reliable, committed, available and do they have an alliance to the plan?

  4. Explain how CPS will provide oversight of the Protective Action:
    • What is my role?
    • How will I monitor/oversee the Protective Action to assure it works?

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Question: Can we put a Protective Action into place and then close the case? 


Answer: No. We cannot put a Protective Action into place and then close the case.  It's helpful to keep child safety and disposition separate when talking about a Protective Action. The Protective Action is a short term, same day temporary plan for a child we determine is not safe.  We write it, we manage it, and we own it and it doesn't matter if the family agrees with it or not.  It allows the CPS caseworker to gather more information through a comprehensive assessment such as understanding more about the child's vulnerability and the parent’s willingness and ability to protect.  The Protective Action is never permanent and either morphs into the Ongoing Safety Plan, if the case is opened, or is closed at the end of the assessment. (Procedural Manual:  Assessment: Section 8: Page 1)


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Question: I am still struggling with whether we can have a voluntary care if there is a safety threat.  I thought I heard that we could only have voluntary cases if they met the criteria for Family Support Services (no safety threat) but now I'm reading in the question and answers about "cooperative cases"....  Does this mean that we can have a cooperative case that doesn't involve filing a petition with the court?   I'm confused.


Answer: You say "voluntary CARE" in your first sentence.  Do you mean voluntary case?  Voluntary Custody?   Either way....


You can have a voluntary CASE if there is a safety threat.  We still work with those families where it has been determined the child is unsafe, but the family is very willing and wanting to work with us (cooperative).  We work those cases on a cooperative basis. 


We cannot open a Voluntary Custody case if there is a founded CPS disposition.  If we have to place a child out of the home due to that child being unsafe we need to be involving the court.


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Question: Is there a formal supervisory review of the Protective Action? 


Answer: Although rule does require a supervisor to approve the Protective Action, there are no formal timelines, signatures or FACIS tab requirements for the supervisory review.  There is an expectation that the CPS caseworker will inform and discuss with their supervisor when they have taken a Protective Action as the result of a child being unsafe (procedural manual:  Assessment: section 8: page 2)


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Question: In the old Voluntary Placement policy, there was mention that we could not take a Voluntary Placement Agreement when the family had founded abuse allegations. That is not mentioned at all in the new policy. Do you know why?


Answer: The Voluntary Placement language comes straight from statute.  The Voluntary Placement rule is very clear that it can only be used within very specific parameters:


The Department must use a Voluntary Placement Agreement (CF 499) under ORS 418.312 in all cases in which the sole reason for placing the child in a foster home, group home, or institutional child care setting is the need to obtain services for the child's emotional, behavioral, or mental disorder or developmental or physical disability.


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Question: If we have a family with a founded CPS in the last year and the court will not give us custody and the child still requires out of home care, what can we do?


Answer: If we believe the child requires out of home care and the court disagrees with us, therefore, not giving us jurisdiction, then DHS may need to involve the Attorney Generals' office to consult and see what our options may be. 


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Question: I wanted to know if the Threat of Harm Disposition Guide, Attachment A-1 has changed due to the Oregon Safety Model. 


Answer: The Safety Model has not changed the Threat of Harm Disposition Guide.  I have included the link to that guide and it is still on line.  However, the CPS Program has been working on making that tool more user friendly.  We should have a new and improved version out for you soon.  Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled.


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Question: Once a worker enters a Protective Action in FACIS and then modifies it during the CPS assessment, where does that get documented?


Answer: The system does not 'freeze' the Protective Action (or any part of the assessment for that matter) until the assessment has been approved by the supervisor. So, at any point in time up until the instant that the supervisor approves the assessment in FACIS, the Protective Action (or any part of the assessment) can be changed (either by the supervisor or the assigned worker) and/or printed.


The Protective Action in FACIS does not freeze until the assessment is complete.  The worker may complete the Protective Action on day one but the worker can go in and modify and update the document as needed throughout the assessment and print a new copy for the family or the file.


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Question: Will Child Welfare Program Manager approval be required for voluntary services requested by parents or will a worker’s approval be all that is needed?


Answer: Yes, Program Manager approval is required when the criteria outlined in OAR  I-AB.2  413-015-0205  3(c)(iv) are met. See exceptions listed in this rule (request for out of home placement due to child's condition, parents request for that department take legal custody or pre-adjudicated court ordered placement).


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Question: Do we still use the Service Application form to open a “cooperative” case after a CPS assessment when a child is determined to be unsafe?
Answer: Yes, for these cases we do use the 304, as that is the signed document that authorizes us to provide services to the family.  We would have an In-Home Safety Plan, and the 333c case plan with those families as well.


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Question: Is an Out-of-Home Safety Plan the same thing as taking Protective Custody?  If not, when does a child being kept from his own home become protective custody?  Can we still have families decide to just have the child go stay with Grandma, for example, when Child Welfare says the child must be apart from the parent and without Child Welfare seeking court intervention?


Answer: Yes.  If Child Welfare has made a decision that the child cannot safely remain with their parent/parents and cannot stay in their home and we are requiring that the child be placed in another home for safety, that is when we initiate protective custody and we need to schedule a shelter hearing and do what is required to approve the placement.  


If, at the completion of the assessment, the safety analysis supports continued out of home placement as required by the agency, that is the purpose for or basis of the Out of Home Safety Plan.  If, on the other hand, Child Welfare has concerns about the parents capacity, but believes that the parent can still maintain custody and make good decisions about the safety of the child while we continue our assessment and at the completion of the assessment the safety analysis indicates that there is still a safety threat(impending danger), but in home safety services can provide for the safety of the child and child welfare does not require the child to be out of the home, then that requires an in  home safety plan.  


A component of an In-Home Safety Plan may be that the parent uses appropriate resources within their family to assist with the care of the child and to temporarily to help them out.  The key is that the parent is working with the agency, but making choices about how they can keep the child in their legal custody without required removal by DHS. In this case, we do want to use least intrusive means, for example, there may be a protective parent who makes the plan, on their own, to allow a child to go live with grandma to ensure the child's safety. The worker has assessed that the parents are believing the child needs to be at grandma's to ensure safety, grandma wants the child to remain there and everyone agrees it is the best place for the child. In that situation, then the In Home Ongoing Safety Plan may not involve protective custody.

Looking at the requirements of the Out of Home Safety Plan as outlined in rule:  An Out-of Home Ongoing Safety Plan is required when separation of the child from the identified safety threats, including separation of the child from the child's home or the child's parents or care givers, is necessary to assure the child's safety. Separation of the child from the child's parent or care giver may occur only when the parent or care giver cannot or will not
protect the child. One of the following criteria must be present before an
Out-of-Home Ongoing Safety Plan is required:

  1. Safety threats as analyzed are occurring within the family in such a way as to prevent in-home safety management; The nature of the home environment is so out of control as to prevent in-home safety management;
    1. The parent or care giver is unwilling to accept an In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan;
    2. The parent or care giver is unwilling to accept people, resources, or safety services that are necessary to implement an In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan; or
    3. The willingness of a parent or care giver to accept an In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan cannot be confirmed or relied upon.

The above definition defines a non-cooperative family.  It would raise question if the above applied to family who was able to make their "own plan."   Bottom line: Yes.  If it has been determined that an Out of Home Safety Plan is required, (the above rule needing to be followed) then protective custody would be necessary.


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Question: There remains great confusion about when we can open CPS cases for ongoing services.  Questions about whether we can open a case that is unfounded or unable to determine are common. Yesterday the question was asked in this way which also adds the element of what communities expect us to be able to do and what many branches have historically done re: prevention type interventions:  “What if a case is unfounded or unable to determine and we don't think the child is unsafe, but community partners are really worried about the family and the family is begging for services?”

Answer: We open a case for ongoing services when the safety analysis has determined the child to be unsafe.  Prevention left our agency twelve years ago. As hard as it may be, we cannot intervene in families because something "might" happen or because community partners say we should be involved. If we have a family where we have determined a child to be safe, but that family is begging for services, help that family get the necessary services they need within the community.  Refer them to their local prevention services or Family Support and Connections. We are not walking away from needy families, but we are not providing the services to them, we are helping get them hooked up with the appropriate services.


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Question: If a child is in substitute care through a Voluntary Placement Agreement for one child in the family, and a new assessment is completed on other children in the home and the safety assessment determines other children are unsafe, and the disposition is founded, can the Voluntary Placement Agreement be maintained
Answer: Voluntary Placement Agreements are appropriate only when a child’s emotional, behavioral, or mental disorder or developmental or physical disability requires services that can be obtained through substitute care placement.  A Voluntary Placement Agreement can be terminated by DHS or the parent/legal guardian at any time either party provides 48 hours written notice.  So, if Child Welfare determines the child who is in substitute care through a Voluntary Placement Agreement will be safe if the parent/legal guardian decides to terminate the Voluntary Placement Agreement, given the unique circumstances of the family determined through the safety assessment and founded disposition, then yes, the Voluntary Placement Agreement may stay in effect. 
Voluntary Custody Agreements are appropriate under the limited conditions described in Child Welfare Policy I-B.1.3, OAR 413-020-0010 (2) when a parent is temporarily unable to care for a child.  Voluntary Custody Agreements can also be terminated by either party with 48 hours written notice. Child Welfare would need to reassess the circumstances of the Voluntary Custody Agreement and assess whether the child would remain safe if the parent requested the child be returned home by assessing both present danger and the impending danger threats, and make a determination whether an in-home safety plan would manage child safety if the child returned home or whether the Department must terminate the Voluntary Custody Agreement and seek legal custody of the child to manage child safety.


If the caseworker believes voluntary custody is still appropriate, we would advise that the caseworker staff the case with the Child Welfare Program Manager to ensure this remains the most appropriate legal status for the child.


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Question: Please help clarify about safety service providers, as I assume they are the providers that were involved to create the Protective Action. Is that correct? 


Answer: A safety service provider is a participant in the Protective Action or the Ongoing Safety Plan whose actions, assistance or supervision help a family in managing a child's safety or increasing the protective capacities of the child's parent or caregiver.  For example, a safety service provider could be the grandma who is staying with the child after school, so the child has an appropriate caregiver.  A safety service provider is any person or service provider who is helping to manage that child's safety. 


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