Writing the Detention Report

0300-303.15 | Revision Date: 07/01/14


This policy guide provides instructions and guidelines on writing the Detention Report for children taken into temporary custody, as well as for Non-Detained Petition filings.



Detention Reports

Non-Detained Petitions

American Indian Children


Writing the Detention Report

ER CSW Responsibilities

ER SCSW Responsibilities

ER ARA Responsibilities


Helpful Links



Referenced Policy Guides


Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 12/07/12 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.


Detention Reports

When a child is taken into temporary custody and/or a Non-Detained Petition is filed, the Detention Report is the primary evidentiary document submitted by DCFS in support of the petition allegations. The Detention Report must be routed to Intake and Detention Control (IDC) no later than 10:00 A.M. on the judicial day prior to the detention/ arraignment hearing. The detained and non-detained petitions, as well as the Court Addendum report are written by IDC, which are submitted with the Detention Report and considered by the court within seventy-two (72) judicial hours of the child's detention or of a Non-Detention Petition being called into IDC. Weekends, court holidays, furlough days, and legal holidays are excluded in calculating these deadlines.


When a CSW decides to take one or more children (related or unrelated) into temporary custody while leaving one or more children (related or unrelated) in the home, the CSW must address the reasons why the child (ren) was not detained in the Detention Report.  The facts must state that the child(ren) is not at risk of abuse, and/or neglect if allowed to remain in the home. Additionally, the signature of the Assistant Regional Administrator (ARA) is required on the Detention Report to leave children in the home when siblings are detained. When a child(ren) is left in the care of a non-offending parent who resides in a different home, the signature of the Assistant Regional Administrator (ARA) is not required.


At the detention/arraignment hearing, the court examines the child's parents, legal guardians and other persons having knowledge of the circumstances that caused a petition to be filed. The court will release the child to his/her parent(s) unless a prima facie case is made and can show that the child comes within WIC Section 300 and any of the following circumstances exists:


The juvenile court determines whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from his/her home and whether there are available services, which would prevent the need for further detention. For American Indian children, the juvenile court determines whether active efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.


Standards and information that must be addressed in the Detention Report include the following:

Non-Detained Petitions

Non-Detained Petitions may be filed at any time when the assessment of the family leads to the conclusion that the safety and protection of a child requires judicial intervention, but immediate detention is not warranted. There are three (3) types of non-detained petitions: WIC 300, 342 and 387. The CSW is responsible for writing the Detention report when filing a Non-Detained Petition.

American Indian Children

CSWs must provide active efforts when there is reason to know that the child falls under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of an Indian child.


The following are suggested guidelines for providing active efforts:


  1. A request to the Indian child's tribe to convene traditional and customary support and resolution actions or services.


  1. Identification and participation of tribally designated representatives at the earliest point.


  1. Consultation with extended family members to identify family structure and family support that may be provided by extended family members.


  1. Frequent visitation in the Indian child's home and the homes of the child's extended family members.


  1. Exhaustion of all tribally appropriate family preservation alternatives.


  1. Identification and provision of information to the child's family concerning community resources that may be able to offer housing, financial, and transportation assistance and actively assist the family in accessing the community resources.

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Writing the Detention Report

ER CSW Responsibilities

  1. Ask the parent(s) to sign the DCFS 179, Parental Consent and Authorization for Medical Care and Release of Education Records, DCFS 179-MH, Parental Consent for Child's Assessment & Participation in Mental Health and/or Regional Center Developmental Services, and DCFS 179-PHI, Authorization for Disclosure of Child's Protected Health Information (PHI) .
  1. Obtain information regarding the child(ren)'s medical, mental, emotional and school history and potential needs.


  1. Ask the parent(s) if their child may be an American Indian from a federally or non-federally recognized tribe and complete the ICWA-010(A).


  1. Within two (2) hours of detaining a child, telephone IDC at (323) 881-1303 and provide the IDC staff person with the date and time of the detention and all necessary identifying case information, including placement information.


  1. If the child is detained after 3:00 P.M. and IDC was not notified by 5:00 P.M., telephone ERCP within two (2) hours of detaining the child at (213) 639-4500.
  1. Provide the ERCP staff person with the date and time of the detention and all necessary identifying case information, including placement information.
  1. Contact IDC within two (2) hours the next business day if the detention was initially reported after hours to ERCP.
  1. ERCP staff must fax ERCP Placement Log of all children detained by ERCP staff to IDC at (323) 881-0146 no later than the morning of the next business day.


  1. If appropriate, submit a Medical HUB referral to the Hub located closest to the caregiver's home, for every child taken into temporary custody.


  1. Receive from IDC, the date and time of the detention/arraignment hearing and/or the Non-Detained Petition Hearing; as well as when the Detention Report must be submitted to IDC.


  1. Provide either oral or written notice to all the parties, including tribes, of the detention/arraignment hearing.


  1. Prior to creating the Detention Report complete the following:


  1. Complete all appropriate fields on the Detention Report populated by the database.


  1. Complete the Detention Report by 5:00 p.m. on the due date given by IDC to ensure timely filing of petitions with the court.


  1. Obtain ARA approval if one or more of the following conditions exist:
  1. The recommendation is to allow one or more of the child(ren), regardless of their age, to remain in the home when one or more children in the same case or an associated case are taken into temporary custody.
  1. When placing a child age six (6) or younger in congregate care.
  1. A child under the age of five (5) is left in the home (59 months or younger).
  1. When parents reside in the same home, the child(ren) is detained from one parent, and the child remains with the non-offending parent because either the offending parent or non-offending parent has left the home.
  1. If the recommendation is for a child(ren) to remain in the home and it is a sexual abuse case.


  1. Request on-line approval for the Detention Report and print it. Sign and date the hard copy.


  1. Submit the hard copy of the Detention Report with any supporting documents and any attachments to the SCSW for approval.


  1. When the report is approved, route the Detention Report with any attachments, including the ICWA-010(A) for each child, to support staff for final preparation and delivery/faxing to IDC by 5:00 p.m. on the due date given by IDC.

ER SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the packet, Detention Report, and any supporting documents, including all SDM tools used:
  1. If approved, sign and date the Detention Report. Approve the Detention Report on-line and return the packet to the CSW if ARA approval is not required.
  1. If ARA approval is required, sign the Detention report and send the packet to the ARA without approving the detention report on-line.

ER ARA Responsibilities

  1. Review the Detention Report and any supporting documents and attachments, including all SDM tools.
  1. If approved, sign and date the report and return the packet to the SCSW for on-line approval.
  1. If not approved, return the packet to the SCSW for corrective action.

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Supervisor Approval

ARA Approval



Timeframes for submitting Detention Reports to Intake and Detention Control (IDC)

Detention Report Sample



Detention Report

ICWA-010(A), Indian Child Inquiry

LA Kids

DCFS 179, Parental Consent and Authorization for Medical Care and Release of Education Records (also available in Spanish)

DCFS 179-MH, Parental Consent for Child: Mental Health/Developmental Assessment and Participation in Mental Health/Developmental Services (also available in Spanish)

DCFS 179-PHI, Authorization for Disclosure of Child's Protected Health Information (also available in Spanish)

DCFS 4216, Last Minute Information for the Court

ICWA-010(A), Indian Child Inquiry Attachment

JV-501, Paternity Finding and Judgment

Medical HUB Referral Form

Relative Notification Letter (also available in Spanish)

Referenced Policy Guides

0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0070-548.20, Taking Children into Temporary Custody

0070-570.10, Obtaining Warrants and/or Removal Orders

0080-502.25, Family Maintenance Services for Court and Voluntary Cases

0080-505.20, Health & Education Passport (HEP)

0100-510.21, Voluntary Placement

0100-510.60, Placement Considerations for Children

0100-510.61, Placement Responsibilities

0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

0100-520.11, Home Approvals Not Meeting Title 22 Approval Standards

0100-520.70, Exemptions for Criminal History Records

Family Members and Prospective Guardians with Criminal History Records

0300-301.05, Filing Petitions

0300-303.07, Non-Disclosure Orders

0300-303.08, Resolving Detention Disagreements between Field Operations and IDC

0300-306.05, Noticing Process for Juvenile Court Proceedings

0300-306.20, Notice Requirements for Alleged Fathers

0300-306.45, Removal Orders

0300-306.75, Due Diligence

0300-318.05, Obtaining Restraining Orders

0300-508.30, Identifying and Notifying the Court of Recurring Efforts to Locate Relatives and Non-Relative Extended Family Members (NREFMs)

0400-504.00, Family Visitation

0600-500.00, Medical Hubs

0600-500.20, Health and Medical Information

0600-501.09, Consent for Mental Health and/or Developmental Assessments and Services

0700-500.10, Education of DCFS-Supervised Children

1200-500.05, Adopting and Serving Children Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

FYI 10-52, New Petition Filing Timeframes


Welfare and Institutions Code Section 224.2(d) – States in part that no proceeding shall be held until at least ten (10) days after receipt of notice by the parent, Indian custodian, the tribe, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, except for the detention hearing, provided that notice of the detention hearing is given as soon as possible after the filing of the petition initiating the proceeding, and proof of the notice is filed with the court within ten (10) days of the filing of the petition.


WIC Section 290.1 and 291 – Addresses who is required to be noticed upon filing an initial petition with the juvenile court.


WIC Section 300 – Describes the criteria for a child becoming a dependent of the court.


WIC Section 306 – Describes the duties of the social worker and Indian Tribes entreated to them while working within the scope of their regular duties under the directions of the Juvenile court.


WIC Section 306.5 – Describes the placement of minor in custody with any siblings or half siblings.


WIC Section 308 – Explains the notification requirements and rights to the parents and the child when a child is taken into temporary custody.


WIC Section 319 – Explains the process of the arraignment/detention hearing (also known as the Initial Petition hearing).


WIC Section 342 – Describes the procedures when a subsequent petition is filed based on new allegations or circumstances other than those under the original sustained petition.


WIC Section 349(d) – States that children are entitled to attend court hearings. Every child four years or older must be advised of his or her right to attend court hearings by the children's services worker and/or his or her attorney of record. A child must attend court hearings unless his or her appearance is waived by his or her attorney of record. The reasons for non-appearance shall be recorded in the minute order. The children's services worker is responsible for arranging transportation of the child to the court. In all cases, the attorney for the child shall consult with the child and explain the outcome of the proceedings.


WIC Section 361.7 – States that active efforts must be unsuccessful before taking an Indian child into temporary custody (except when child is in imminent danger) and prior to termination of parental rights.


WIC Section 385 – States that any order made by the court in the case of any person subject to its jurisdiction may at any time be changed, modified, or set aside, as the judge deems met and proper, subject to such procedural requirements as are imposed by this article.


WIC Section 387 – States that an order changing or modifying a previous order by removing a child from the physical custody of a parent, guardian, relative, or friend and directing placement in a foster home, or commitment to a private or county institution, shall be made only after noticed hearing upon a supplemental petition.

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