Child Welfare FAQ

What should I do if I see a child being abused?
Call the 24-hour reporting number, 530-225-5144 and give detailed information. You may also call the police.

What is the difference between Child Welfare and Children's Services?
Children's Services is the agency that oversees and provides child welfare services, along with an array of other services, to children and families in Shasta County.

Who is my caseworker?
You may find your caseworker by calling 530-225-5650.

Who handles child custody issues?
Parental child custody issues should be directed to the Family Court at 530-225-5707 or 530-225-5650.

Who handles issues of homelessness?
Homelessness is not a crime; it is a lifestyle or situational issue that, unless it poses a substantial danger to a child, is not investigated by Children's Services. The family may be referred to the CalWORKs, Good News Rescue Mission, city or county housing authority or other resources if appropriate.

Does Children's Services remove children?
No, Children's Services does not remove children from their home. In order for children to be removed from their parent, a law enforcement officer must assess the situation and determine immediate endangerment. If a child is in immediate danger, the child will be temporarily turned over to the custody of Children's Services, which will then work to provide reunification services to the family.

Does Children's Services investigate drug use?
No. Children's Services will get involved with drug investigations only at the request of law enforcement. Drug use by itself does not constitute child abuse. There must be other factors, such as the parents neglecting the needs of their children due to their drug use.

If I report abuse or neglect, do I have to identify myself?
No. You can remain anonymous. However, it is helpful to give your name and telephone number to the worker taking the report in case he or she needs to obtain more information later. Some professionals who come in frequent contact with children are called mandated reporters. These people are required by law to report suspected abuse and give their names when doing so.

Can I be sued for making a report?
The law provides that anyone who reports known or suspected child abuse is protected from civil or criminal liability unless it can be proven that the report was false and that the person who made the report knew it was false.

What happens after a report is made?
No two reports are handled in exactly the same way. Decisions made by the professionals involved are based on each child's unique situation. The agency receiving the report will determine how to proceed based on all of the information available. In general, the social worker interviews the child, the parent(s), and others who may have information about the situation before deciding how to proceed. The worker's primary responsibility is the protection of the child.

If I make a report does it mean that the child will be taken away from the home?
Most reports of child abuse do not result in children being removed from their homes. The goal is to keep the child safely in his or her home. To reduce the problems in the family, a social worker refers the family to community resources and services. If this is not sufficient to resolve the problem, then the social worker must protect the child's safety by removing him or her from the home and into a neutral situation, either with a responsible relative, who has been evaluated by the social worker, or into emergency foster care.

If my child is removed from our home, is it permanent?
California has strict rules about removal of children from their families. However, because children are vulnerable, the law also affords them significant protection. If the Agency and law enforcement decide that your child has been abused, neglected, or is at risk of abuse or neglect, he or she may be placed in protective custody and removed from your home. The Juvenile Court then becomes involved to determine the best plan to protect your child. The Juvenile Court will order that you participate in specific services designed to reunify your family, and will monitor your progress. It is a very serious step for the Juvenile Court to order permanent removal of children from their parent(s) and is only done when parents fail to successfully complete the court ordered services and fail to demonstrate that they can protect their child.

If my child is removed from my home, how do I get him/her back?
Specific services developed and agreed to by the family, the Court, and the social worker are provided to the family in order to resolve the problems that brought the family to the attention of the Agency in the first place. Once it is determined that the home environment is safe the child can be returned. The Agency strongly believes in family reunification whenever possible.

What are the qualifications of a social worker?
A social worker is a highly trained professional with a minimum of 30 semester units of social welfare and / or appropriate behavioral science courses or a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW). He/she has knowledge and skills in: principals of human development and family behavior; social work methods and procedures; techniques and principles of interviewing, assessments and counseling; problem solving methodology; social and community resources and ability to identify, develop and utilize these resources; analyzing problems and needs of families; and developing constructive solutions. 

What kind of peer review and quality control exists in the Children's Services system?
In most counties, child welfare social workers work with other agencies such as law enforcement, hospitals and medical personnel, school staff, public health, mental health practitioners, and others. There are quarterly case reviews conducted by certified case reviewers and the Quality Improvement Unit and submitted to the state for second level quality assurance. Additional checks are made by supervisors when cases are transferred or closed and prior to each court hearing. The supervisor will check to see that documentation and paper work was completed, and that the required contacts with children and parents were made. Most importantly, they review service plans to ensure that families and children are receiving the services they need. Additionally, in Shasta County, each case is reviewed at every major decision point by a diverse team of community professionals to ensure that appropriate services are offered and that each family receives fair and equal treatment.

For Children's Mental Health Services click here