At 98% for the Sep-Nov 2010 quarter, DSHS is meeting its target for timely response to reports of child and abuse neglect. The protection of vulnerable children is one of state government’s most important responsibilities.
Statewide in November 2010, 99.5% of children in referrals requiring an emergency response (384 out of 386 children) were seen or attempts made within 24 hours. For non-emergent response, the rate was 97% (1,824 out of 1,881 children) in 72 hours.
The DSHS Children’s Administration is enhancing practice and business processes to increase child safety at the point of first contact. Improvements include standardizing the protocol for intake across the state to clearly describe expectations, responsibilities, and criteria related to child safety.
An intake decision tree guides intake staff in screening decisions that determine response times. Supervisors review all intakes before they are assigned to social workers. The target for initial response time may not be met when:
- Based on new information gathered throughout the intake process, the screening decision is changed from 72 hour response or alternate intervention to 24 hour emergency response to ensure child safety.
- Supervisory approved extensions are not yet documented. (Extensions are approved for various reasons, such as when law enforcement takes the lead on investigations, delaying a DSHS response, and when a neutral setting is required for safe access to a child).