Chapter 3 : Section 1

Providing Case Management and Services for Families with Children Assessed as Safe


The Department may arrange, provide, and coordinate programs and services that protect children and may provide programs and services that achieve and maintain permanency on behalf of the child, strengthen the family and provide prevention, intervention, and treatment for abused and neglected children.

The Department of Child Safety (DCS) will provide in-home case management and offer services for families in which:

  • a DCS Report has been received;

  • the Family Functioning Assessment – Investigation has determined the children in the home are not in present or impending danger; and

  • the Family Functioning Assessment indicates that one or more children in the home is at risk of abuse and neglect.

If a child and the child's family require assistance from the Department, all of the following apply:

  • the health and safety of the child is the primary concern;

  • reasonable efforts must be made to provide the assistance in the method that is least intrusive and least restrictive to the family and that is consistent with the needs of the child; and

  • reasonable efforts must be made to deliver the assistance in a culturally appropriate manner and as close as possible to the home community of the child or family requiring assistance.

Services may be provided directly by DCS staff, by contract, or through referral to other organizations or community agencies.

The DCS Specialist must offer parents, guardians, and/or custodians who reside in another household the opportunity to be involved with services.

The Department shall maintain continued contact with children and parents/caregivers for all open cases to plan for and monitor the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child and to promote the achievement of the permanency goal.

While a case is open for services, the DCS Specialist shall have face-to-face contact with the child and the child’s parents, guardians, and/or custodians at least once every month in order to determine whether:

  • the parents, guardians, and/or custodians continue to be able to meet the child’s needs;

  • any new concerns regarding child safety have been observed or reported; and

  • the services and supports continue to be effective in enhancing family protective factors and caregiver protective capacities in order to reduce future risk of abuse and neglect.

The DCS Specialist’s monthly face-to-face contact with the child and the child’s parents, guardians, and/or custodians shall occur in the child’s home.

If the child is verbal or able to communicate through other means (such as through writing, an augmentative communication device, sign language, etc.), part of at least one contact per month shall be alone with the child.


Preparing to Meet the Family

Upon assignment, the receiving DCS Specialist will review the case information and develop a plan for the initial meeting with the family.

To the extent possible, the DCS Specialist should complete the following activities prior to the initial meeting with the family:

  • Review information in the electronic and case file records to identify the family composition(s), family needs, history of services provided to the family, response to services, and additional information needed.

  • Contact the investigating DCS Specialist to seek clarification about the FFA – Investigation or any decisions made, if needed.

  • Identify strategies for family engagement based on what is known.

The DCS Specialist will coordinate the timing, location, and circumstances of the initial meeting with the parents, guardians, and/or custodians including the following:

  • the location of the meeting, which should be the most family-like setting possible;

  • the day and time of the meeting, based on the family’s schedule (work/school/services/visitation) and access to transportation; and

  • when domestic violence has been identified as present in a family, a plan to have separate meetings with the parents, guardians, and/or custodians.

Initial Contact with the DCS Specialist and the Family

During the initial contact between the DCS Specialist and the family, the DCS Specialist will:

  • meet with both the parent(s) and child(ren);

  • discuss the identified DCS concerns as well as the family’s concerns;

  • assess each parent/caregiver’s stage of change;

  • discuss options with the family to address identified concerns and explain what the family can expect;

  • assess the family’s willingness and availability to engage in services and schedule the second home visit;

  • complete the Authorization to Disclose Health Information, CSO-1038A with the family in order to collaborate with providers;

  • if there are any known service providers and/or services in place, ask the family for the provider’s contact information and agreement to collaborate with the provider; and

  • offer concrete resources for identified needs.

If initial in-person contact is unsuccessful, the DCS Specialist will make additional attempts to contact the family including but not limited to:

  • calling all listed phone numbers, including schools, day care, relatives/kin, etc.;

  • making additional in-person attempts to contact the family; and

  • contacting the DCS Specialist that completed the investigation for assistance, such as the best method to contact the family (phone call, text, email), effective strategies utilized to engage the family, schedule time to meet with the family together to re-engage them, etc.

Contact with Children and Parents/Caregivers

The assigned DCS Specialist must have monthly face-to-face contact with the child(ren) and parents, guardians, and/or custodians. More frequent face-to-face contact and/or telephone contact from the DCS Specialist between required monthly contacts may be necessary based on the case circumstances. See Contact with Children, Parents and Out-of-Home Caregivers.

Case Planning

The DCS Specialist must develop an individualized, family-centered, written case plan for every child, youth, and family receiving ongoing services from the Department. See Developing and Reassessing the Family-Centered Case Plan.

The DCS Specialist will ensure that sufficient information is gathered during the Exploration stage to develop a family-centered case plan that will strengthen the family’s protective factors, enhance caregiver protective capacities, and reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect. See Supervision Handbook regarding Exploration activities.

The DCS Specialist will schedule a case plan staffing to develop a written case plan, at a time and location that is convenient for the family.

The family and service team should be actively involved in case planning, to include:

  • assessment and identification of family strengths and protective capacities;

  • identification of behavioral changes necessary to enhance protective capacities and/or protective factors;

  • identification of services and supports recommended to achieve the identified behavioral changes; and

  • assessing the family’s progress.

The DCS Specialist will refer the family for services and supports identified in the case plan in order to enhance diminished caregiver protective capacities, strengthen family protective factors, and reduce the likelihood of future abuse or neglect. See Developing and Reassessing the Family-Centered Case Plan.

Services are available through a referral to:

  • community organizations and agencies;

  • faith-based and family support networks; and

  • DCS contracted services.

To request specific DCS contracted services, complete the Request for Services.

Family Engagement Efforts

When a parent, guardian, and or custodian is unwilling or unable to participate in achieving case plan goals, the Department must continue to make reasonable efforts to engage the parent, guardian and/or custodian in the process. These efforts include but are not limited to:

  • reviewing previous efforts made to engage the family and the family’s response to those efforts;

  • identifying any reason(s) known as to the family’s lack of engagement in achieving case plan goals;

  • consulting with the DCS Supervisor and Unit Consultant to identify assessments or services to be provided to the family;

  • reassessing the level of oversight required by DCS and/or court;

  • informing the family of any changes to agency or court oversight; and

  • when applicable, discussing options for adjustment to the DCS case plan, referring to other DCS contracted services, and assisting the family to access community resources and/or change-focused interventions.

Assessing Progress

During monthly contacts, reassess the family’s progress toward achieving the outlined behavioral changes in the case plan. Consider each parent, guardian, and/or custodian’s engagement in services and supports, and whether the services and supports identified in the case plan are promoting the desired behavioral changes.

To determine whether the positive change is occurring within the family, reevaluate the family’s protective factors. The protective factors are:

  • social and emotional competency of children;

  • social connections;

  • concrete support in times of need;

  • knowledge of parenting and child development; and

  • parental resilience.

Refer to Protective Factors Framework for guidance on evaluating protective factors.

If the information gathered indicates that a situation or adult behavior in the household could pose a safety threat to a child, collect additional information to explore the area of concern.

Make a report to the Child Abuse Hotline and conduct a separate Family Functioning Assessment of this household if the information collected reveals new or previously unreported incidents of abuse or neglect, or possible safety threats in the household. See Family Functioning Assessment – Investigation.

At any point in time, if any child in the home is observed to be in present danger, the DCS Specialist must implement a present danger plan that controls the present danger prior to leaving the child or family. See Present Danger Assessment and Planning.

Conduct a case plan staffing to assess the progress made toward enhancing the caregiver protective capacities and/or protective factors to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect. If the assessment indicates that:

  • identified behavior changes and protective factors have been adequately addressed, outcomes have been achieved, and the child is safe at home; complete an Aftercare Plan with the family and close the case;

  • the child appears to be unsafe in the current situation; immediately implement a safety plan following policy and procedure outlined in Safety Planning; complete an FFA as required in Family Functioning Assessment – Progress Update; or

  • case circumstances indicate that court oversight is necessary; file a petition with juvenile court.

Closing a Case with Children Identified as Safe

A case with children identified as safe may be closed when:

  • The parent recognizes the circumstances that cause the child to be at risk of abuse or neglect and has enhanced caregiver protective capacities and/or strengthened protective factors to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect.

  • The child is currently safe in the home and the caregiver’s progress toward enhancing caregiver protective capacities and/or strengthening protective factors is sufficient to lead the DCS Specialist and DCS Program Supervisor to believe that the child will be safe at home in the foreseeable future and the risk of another report to DCS is low.

  • The parent is involved and actively engaged with extended family members, community support networks or service providers who will be able to help the family maintain these changes over time.

  • The parent knows how and where to access help if problems arise in the future.

  • The child has been placed, as arranged by the parent, guardian or custodian, in an alternate, safe, permanent, legal placement with a relative, non-custodian parent, or other custodian.

  • The follow-up services needed by the relative, non-custodial parent or alternate caregiver to continue to meet the child's needs have been established.

Prior to case closure:

  • Confirm that the parent, guardian, or custodian is aware of available financial and non-financial services and eligibility requirements.

  • Confirm the parent, guardian, custodian or caregiver has access to needed services through Department or community resources.

  • Assist the parent, guardian, custodian or caregiver to complete the necessary applications for services.

  • Confirm that the parent has extended family members or community support networks that can assist them if difficulties arise.

  • Confirm that the parent knows how and under what circumstances to seek help in the future.

Prior to case closure, the DCS Specialist will document the outcome of services and an assessment of the enhanced caregiver protective capacities and strengthened protective factors in the Aftercare Plan.

Follow policy and procedures in Aftercare Planning and Services when the decision has been made to close the case.

Efforts to Locate Prior to Closing an In-Home Case with Safe Children

If the child and family cannot be located, the DCS Specialist will make reasonable efforts to locate the child and family as follows:

  • Make at least three (3) attempts to locate the alleged child victim(s) and any other children in the home through home visits at different times of day and on different days.

  • Send a certified letter to the family’s last known address.

  • Contact people who may have information about the location of the child victim or family, such as known relatives, the reporting source, the landlord, and the tribe if applicable.

  • Review the Family Assistance Administration (FAA) AZTECS database to determine if a current address is available for the child and the child’s family.

  • Contact the County Jail and the Department of Corrections if the DCS report or other information indicates current or recent incarceration.

Prior to approving case closure, the DCS Program Supervisor will confirm that sufficient efforts to locate were made.


Document in Notes, contacts with the following persons:

  • family members;

  • Department personnel;

  • members of the service team;

  • tribal social services representatives; and/or

  • other service team members regarding the case.

Documentation of contacts should include information on dates, places, individuals involved, and the nature of the contact, and provide a factual summary of the following:

  • assessment of the parent’s behavioral changes;

  • observations of the family's interactions; and

  • observations of the environment.

Document all conversations with the family regarding caregiver protective capacities and protective factors that may be strengthened and include information on community-based or Department provided service referrals.

The DCS Specialist will document all services provided to the family (via DCS or another agency/source) including:

  • type of service or service name, including:

    • services the family is already involved in prior to DCS (e.g., counseling through the RBHA, DDD services, etc.);

    • referrals by the DCS Specialist to any community-based agency (e.g., parenting classes, food boxes, etc.), and;

    • any referral to services directly provided by DCS or DES (e.g., DES childcare, Building Resilient Families, S.E.N.S.E. program, etc.);

    • date of referral; and

  • outcome of services.

File copies of all assessments, treatment records, monthly reports, and other related documents in the hard copy record.

File a copy of service requests in the hard copy record.

File a copy of each of the following Supervision documentation tools in the hard copy record:

In-Home Preparation and Introduction Supervision Documentation, DCS-2179

In-Home Exploration Supervision Documentation, DCS-2180A

In-Home Case Planning Supervision Documentation, DCS-2180B

In-Home Progress Update Supervision Documentation, DCS-2181

In-Home Aftercare Supervision Documentation, DCS-2182

Document all face-to-face visits with the child and parent/caregiver, in the Notes tab.

If a Courtesy DCS Specialist is responsible for making the ongoing monthly face-to-face visits, assign the DCS Specialist with ongoing responsibility for the monthly visits to the case.

Effective Date: July 26, 2021
Revision History: November 30, 2012, January 31, 2018, June 4, 2019, February 1, 2021