Report 2013-110 Recommendation 23 Responses

Report 2013-110: Child Welfare Services: The County Child Welfare Services Agencies We Reviewed Must Provide Better Protection for Abused and Neglected Children (Release Date: April 2014)

Recommendation #23 To: Orange County Social Services Agency

To ensure that required safety plans are created, the Orange County CWS agency should have supervisors review all safety assessments in a timely manner and verify that a written safety plan signed by the responsible parties accompanies any assessments designating the need for a safety plan.

1-Year Agency Response

Social Services Agency (SSA) provided training to social workers and supervisors on Safety Plans, October 2013. Emergency Response (ER) managers reviewed the Safety Plan requirements included in the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Policy and Procedure (P&P) with ER and Differential Response (DR) supervisors and social workers at an all staff meeting June 5, 2014.

SSA modified the current Safety Plan form in May 2014. A section was added requiring social workers to document telephone consultations with supervisors, including dates.

SSA revised the SDM P&P to outline additional supervisory oversight of Safety Plans, including required consultations with social workers. The revised P&P was finalized and published July 31, 2014. All ER/DR staff was trained on the revised P&P.

SSA again revised the SDM P&P in March 2015, specifically outlining the requirement for supervisors to approve all Safety Assessments within seven days. Social workers are still required to seek supervisory approval of Safety Plans before leaving the family's home or, if unsuccessful, within 24 business hours. The consultation involves a review of the Safety Assessment and the development of the Safety Plan. Supervisors are now required to sign the hard copy Safety Plan within seven days of completion.

SSA developed an ER audit tool which is used to monitor timely supervisor reviews and approvals of Safety Assessments/Plans. The Quality Support Team (QST) completed the first audit of ER/DR practices (October 2014). A second audit is currently being conducted. The ER/DR manager and supervisors also completed reviews using the ER audit tool, January 2015.

  • Estimated Completion Date: May 2015
  • Response Date: April 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented

The Orange County CWS agency (agency) fully implemented this recommendation. The agency's policy requires supervisors to review all safety assessments in a timely manner. Further, it implemented a review tool that supervisors, managers, and the Quality Support Team use to monitor whether safety threats were identified on the safety assessments and, if so, were safety plans created.


6-Month Agency Response

Orange County SSA provided training to social workers and supervisors on safety plans in October 2013. Emergency Response (ER) managers reviewed the safety plan requirements included in the SDM Policy and Procedure (P&P) with ER and Differential Response (DR) supervisors and social workers at an all staff meeting on June 5, 2014.

SSA modified the current safety plan form. A section was added requiring social workers to document telephone consultations with supervisors, including dates. This modification went into effect on May 28, 2014, and was reviewed with staff at the June 5, 2014 ER program meeting.

SSA added a section to the existing investigation narrative tool on May 28, 2014. This section requires social workers to document consultations regarding safety plans with supervisors, including dates. This addition was reviewed with staff at the June 5, 2014 ER program meeting.

SSA revised the SDM P&P to further outline supervisory oversight of safety plans, including timely review by supervisors to ensure proper completion of safety plans (i.e. a plan was completed when indicated, effectively targets safety threats, and has all required signatures.) The revised P&P was finalized and published on July 31, 2014. All ER/DR staff was trained on the revised P&P during the months of August and September 2014.

SSA has developed an ER audit tool which will be used by managers, supervisors, and the Quality Support Team (QST).

QST will complete semi-annual audits in October 2014 and April 2015 to monitor the use, quality, and supervisory oversight of safety plans.

  • Estimated Completion Date: April 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Partially Implemented

Orange County's revised policy requires supervisors to review all safety assessments within 30 calendar days of the social worker submitting the assessment for approval. We do not consider 30 calendar days to be a timely manner as a child's safety may be at stake that entire period of time.

In instances where, using the safety assessment, the social worker identifies a safety threat, yet determines that the child can remain in the home with safety interventions, Orange County's revised policy requires social workers to create a safety plan and consult with a supervisor regarding the appropriateness of the safety plan within at most one business day. This revision does not mitigate our original concern since a social worker can miss a safety threat, or identify a safety threat and not follow up with a safety plan—as we found during the audit. Supervisors should promptly review all safety assessments to ensure that required safety plans are created.


60-Day Agency Response

Orange County provided training to social workers and supervisors on safety plans in October 2013. Emergency Response (ER) managers reviewed the safety plan requirements included in the SDM Policy and Procedure (P&P) with supervisors and social workers at an ER staff meeting on June 5, 2014

Orange County SSA determined that the SDM P&P required minor modifications in the area outlining supervisory oversight. Additional language, regarding timely consultation with supervisors and required documentation, has been added to this P&P. These additions were reviewed with staff at the June 5, 2014 ER program meeting.

Orange County SSA modified the current safety plan form. A section was added requiring social workers to document telephone consultations with supervisors, including dates. This modification went into effect on May 28, 2014 and was reviewed with staff at the June 5, 2014 ER program meeting.

Orange County SSA added a new section to the existing investigation narrative tool on May 28, 2014. This section requires social workers to document consultations regarding safety plans with supervisors, including dates. This addition was reviewed with staff at the June 5, 2014 ER program meeting.

An ER audit tool is being developed. This will be used by managers, supervisors, and the Quality Support Team (QST). This will include monitoring for quality safety plans and supervisory oversight. It is anticipated that the tool will be fully developed by July 2014.

QST will complete semi-annual audits in October 2014 and April 2015 to monitor the use, quality, and supervisory oversight of safety plans.

  • Estimated Completion Date: April 2015
  • Response Date: June 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Partially Implemented


All Recommendations in 2013-110

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.


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