Child Passenger Restraint/Car Seat Requirements

1200-500.20 | Revision Date: 07/01/14

Overview

This policy guide reviews safety procedures for the transportation of children.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

California Vehicle Code

Child Restraint Systems (CRS)

Procedure

Transporting a Child up to Eight Years Old

CSW Responsibilities

Transporting a Child who is Eight Years Old or Older

CSW Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Forms

Referenced Policy Guides

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy was updated from the 03/26/12 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.  

POLICY

California Vehicle Code

California Vehicle Code Section 27360 requires that any child who is under eight years of age must be placed in a rear seat in an appropriate child restraint system (CRS) while traveling in an automobile. The Vehicle Code does permit limited exceptions to this requirement.

 

In non-emergent situations, children with special health care needs can be transported to a placement, doctor or mental health appointment, or from one place to another.

Child Restraint Systems (CRS)

The DCFS regional offices are equipped with three types of CRS:

 

A child shall not be transported in a rear-facing CRS in the front seat of a vehicle that is equipped with an active frontal passenger airbag.

 

Office management is to ensure that the expiration dates (6 years after manufacture date) of the CRS in their regional office have not been exceeded.

Back to Policy

PROCEDURE

Transporting a Child up to Eight Years Old

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Identify the appropriate type of child restraint system (CRS), correct method and location of installation, exemptions, and remedies using the following charts.

 

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when strapping the child securely in the safety seat.  Below are general guidelines.

 

Child Weighs Less than 22 Pounds

Type of CRS

Infant seat

Seat orientation

Rear-facing

Ideal location

Center of the back seat

Alternative location

Other back seat

Child Weighs Between 22 and 40 Pounds

Type of CRS

Toddler or convertible child safety seat

Seat orientation

Forward-facing

Ideal location

Center of the back seat

Alternative location

Other back seat

Child is Under Eights Years Old

Type of CRS

Booster [or convertible child safety] Seat

Seat orientation

Forward-facing

Ideal location

Center of back seat

Alternative location

Other back seat

 

  1. The following exemptions apply to policies and procedures regarding transportation of a child using a CRS provided the remedies listed next to each exemption are applied:

 

Exemption

Remedy

  • CRS is impractical due to physical unfitness, medical condition, or size (e.g. child is in a body cast).
  • A child may be transported without the use of a CRS. Instead, secure the child using a seatbelt. If possible, obtain the assistance of another CSW or other responsible adult to sit with the child.
  • In a life-threatening emergency and there is no CRS available (e.g. when a CSW is threatened by a parent or other involved party during a detention and law enforcement is not present).
  • A child may be transported without the use of a CRS. Instead, secure the child using a seatbelt. If possible, obtain the assistance of another CSW or other responsible adult to sit with the child. Then drive to the nearest point of safety and install the child in the CRS. If a CRS is not available, call the regional office to request assistance.
  • When a child weighing more than 40 pounds is being transported in a vehicle with a backseat that is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder safety belt.
  • Secure the child in the backseat using a lap safety belt.
  • When a child under 8 years of age is 4 feet 9 inches in height or taller.
  • The child may be properly restrained by a safety belt rather than a CRS.
  • If there is no rear seat, the rear seats are side-facing seats, the rear seats are rear-facing, the CRS cannot be properly installed in the rear seat, all rear seats are occupied by other children age 7 or under, or medical reasons necessitates that the child not ride in the rear seat.
  • The child may ride in the front seat if properly secured in a CRS that meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Transporting a Child who is 8 Years of Age or Older

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Use the 5-Step test to determine if a child can fit into the vehicle seat belt safely without a booster as follows:
  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the hips/thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

 

  1. If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, the child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit correctly for the best crash protection.

 

  1. If the shoulder strap and lap belt rest on the appropriate areas of the child, secure the child using the seat belt.

Back to Procedure

APPROVALS

None

HELPFUL LINKS

Forms

Safety Belt Safe USA Flyer

Safety Belt Safe USA Flyer (Spanish)

 

There are many nationally certified child passenger safety technicians throughout California. Check with the local CHP office or local Health Department to find a technician or “fitting station.” Use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website to find a fitting station. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

Referenced Policy Guides

0600-505.10, Placing Children with Special Health Care Needs

Statutes

Vehicle Code Section 27360 – States requirements for transportation on a highway in a motor vehicle by a parent, legal guardian, or driver of a child or ward who is under eight years of age.

 

Vehicle Code Section 27363 – States exemptions to requirements for use of a CRS for transportation of a child or ward.

Back to Helpful Links