2200. Intake Process and Response

Approval: Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 1972

Revised Date: July 1, 2018

Policy Review: July 1, 2023


Children’s Administration (CA) receives and processes reports of child abuse and neglect, requests for services and provides information and referrals according to federal and state law on a 24-hour basis.


This policy applies to all CA intake staff.


RCW 9A.16.100 Use of Force

RCW 13.34.030 Juvenile Court Act - Definitions

RCW 13.34.360 Safety of Newborn Children Act

RCW 26.44.020 Abuse of Children - Definitions

RCW 26.44.030 Abuse of Children - Reports

RCW 46.61.687 Child Passenger Restraint

RCW 74.13 Child Welfare Services

RCW 74.15 Care of Children, Expectant Mothers, Persons with Developmental Disabilities


  1. The intake worker will:
    1. Conduct a comprehensive interview with any referrer, including making reasonable efforts to learn the referrer’s name, address, and telephone number and conduct a FamLink person search for all persons, victims, perpetrators, parents and family members listed in the intake.
    2. Contact and document collateral source information in order to complete a comprehensive intake when:
      1. Sufficient information is not available from the referrer to determine the intake screening decision or appropriate response time.
      2. It is necessary to verify or clarify a child abuse or neglect (CA/N) allegation.
    3. Process reports with allegations of CA/N, circumstances placing a child at imminent risk of serious harm and requests for services specific to CA from any source and in any form, and document in an intake.
      1. Sufficiency Screening
        Screen in intakes for Child Protective Services (CPS) intervention if the following sufficiency screening criteria are met:
        1. The alleged victim is under 18 years of age;
        2. The allegation, if true, minimally meets the WAC definition of CA/N or it is alleged a child’s circumstances place him or her at imminent risk of serious harm; and
        3. The alleged subject has the role of a parent, person acting in loco parentis, or unknown; or
        4. The subject is providing care in a facility subject to licensing by DSHS, Department of Early Learning (DEL), or in other state-regulated care.
      2. Allegations of CA/N or Imminent Risk of Serious Harm
        Utilize the FamLink intake, Chronicity Indicator, and Structured Decision Making (SDM) Intake and Intake Practice Guides located on the CA intranet to determine assignment to CPS Investigation, Family Assessment Response (FAR), or for Division of Licensed Resources DLR/CPS.
        1. Screen in for:
          1. CPS or DLR/CPS Investigation when there is an allegation of:
            1. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.
            2. Serious physical abuse or serious neglect.
            3. Physical abuse to a child three years or younger for DCFS.
            4. Abuse or neglect reported by a physician, or a medical professional on a physician’s behalf, regarding a child under age five.
            5. Injury or bruise on a non-mobile infant, birth to twelve months regardless of the explanation about how the injury or bruise occurred.
          2. CPS or DLR/CPS Investigation when a report is received from a commissioned law enforcement officer stating a parent has been arrested for Criminal Mistreatment in the fourth degree. RCW 9A.42
          3. CPS Investigation when:
            1. Child or youth in the household is having sexualized contact or engaging in sexual behaviors with other children or youth in the home. (See reference for behaviors that may be considered common for childhood development).
            2. There is an open dependency case involving the child victim or other member of the household.
            3. A dependency action involving the child victim or household was closed within the previous 12 months.
            4. An alleged victim or subject has been named in three or more intakes screened in for investigation or Family Assessment Response (FAR) in the past 12 months.
          4. CPS FAR when it is indicated on the Structured Decision Making Screening Tool.
          5. DLR/CPS Investigation when there is an allegation of CA/N in a facility subject to licensing by DLR or Department of Early Learning (DEL) or the facility is state regulated. Follow the intake requirements in the DLR CA/N Handbook – Investigating Abuse and Neglect in State-Regulated Care.
        2. Screen in CPS Risk Only reports when a child is at imminent risk of serious harm and there are no CA/N allegations. These include but are not limited to reports:
          1. From LE about a sexually aggressive youth under age 8.
          2. From the prosecutor's office about a sexually aggressive youth under age 12 who will not be prosecuted.
          3. Involving CA/N allegations against an individual age 18-21 who resides in a state-regulated or licensed facility, or facility subject to licensing.
          4. Of a child at imminent risk of serious harm on an open Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) case.
          5. Of a child at imminent risk of serious harm in the care of a licensed or unlicensed provider.
        3. Screen in reports made by a physician licensed under RCW Chapter 18.71 on the basis of expert medical opinion that child abuse, neglect, or sexual assault may have or has occurred and that the child's safety will be seriously endangered if the child is returned home. RCW 26.44.030(8)
        4. Screen in reports from anonymous referrers when alleged CA/N meets the sufficiency screening criteria or there is imminent risk of serious harm and one or more of the following exists:
          1. There is a serious threat of substantial harm to a child.
          2. The allegation(s) includes conduct involving a criminal offense that has, or is about to occur, in which the child is the victim.
          3. A member of the household has a prior founded report of CA/N within three years of receiving the most recent intake. Inform the referrer that, if he or she remains anonymous and the allegation is assessed at a lower risk, the intake (with the exception of DLR/CPS) will be screened out and not be assigned for investigation. 
        5. Screen in all reports of CA/N or imminent risk of serious harm involving a facility or a facility subject to licensing, regardless of the anonymity of the referrer.
        6. Screen in reports involving a newborn exposed to substances including alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and any drug with abuse potential to the following pathways:
          1. CPS (Investigation or FAR) or DLR/CPS Investigation when there is a CA/N allegation.
          2. CPS Risk Only when there is no CA/N allegation but the newborn is one of the following:
            1. Substance affected (as identified by a medical practitioner)
            2. Substance exposed and risk factors indicate imminent risk of serious harm.
      3. Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC):
        1. Complete the CSEC screening question for all intakes involving suspected or confirmed allegations of sexual exploitation of a child or youth.
        2. Assign all intakes with suspected or confirmed allegations of CSEC to CPS or DLR/CPS investigations when there are allegations of CA/N and the alleged subject is a parent, guardian, legal custodian or person acting in loco-parentis.
        3. Notify law enforcement within 24 hours of the time the intake is received on all suspected or confirmed CSEC related intakes when there is reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The intake worker will notify the LE agency with jurisdiction when the 24-hour notification requirement cannot be met by an assigned caseworker or field supervisor managing the straw assignments.
      4. Requests for services for a family or child (Non CPS)
        1. Screen in intakes for:
          1. Family Voluntary Services (FVS) when a parent or legal guardian requests services in the home or temporary placement of a child, and there is no anticipated court involvement.
          2. Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) when receiving a request:
            1. For a family assessment for a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) or an At Risk Youth (ARY) petition.
            2. From a youth age 12-17, parent (custodial or noncustodial), caregiver, LE, Tribal social worker or CA, HOPE Center or Crisis Residential Center (CRC) staff when at least one family member is voluntarily requesting CA assistance for a family experiencing immediate family crisis due to conflict or a youth exhibiting high risk behaviors.
          3. The following pathways when receiving reports from a CRC, Hope Center or Overnight Youth Shelter involving a runaway youth and there are no allegations of CA/N:
            1. FRS for youth age 12 and older.
            2. FVS for youth under age 12.
          4. The following pathways when there are no allegations of CA/N regarding a parent or caregiver and requests are received for services involving commercially sexually exploited children and youth and the request is made by the youth, parent or other community member:
            1. FRS for youth age 12 and older.
            2. FVS for youth under age 12.
          5. Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) when:
            1. Services are requested for a family or child, the request is appropriate and there is service availability. The caregiver, child, community member or other child welfare agency may make a service request.
            2. A parent transfers a newborn (birth to 72-hours old) anonymously at a hospital emergency room, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic if open and personnel are present to accept the child. See Safety of Newborn Children Act (Safe Haven law).
          6. Extended Foster Care (EFC) services when a youth requests services, and assign to where the youth currently resides.
          7. Non-CPS rule infraction on reports regarding DLR or DEL licensed home or facility that do not contain allegations of CA/N.
          8. IV-E and non IV-E Tribal Placement/Payment Only on all tribal payment requests, for both open and closed cases, unless it is a modification to an existing payment-only case.
        2. Refer all inquiries regarding adoption to a DLR supervisor.
      5. Indian Child Welfare (ICW)
        1. Make efforts to determine if a child is affiliated with a federally recognized Tribe. See Washington State Tribes: Tribal Contact and Coordination Guidelines  and Tribal Agreements located on the ICW page on the CA intranet.
        2. If a child or family is affiliated with a Washington state federally recognized Tribe:
          1. Attempt collateral contact with the Tribe prior to making a screening decision.
          2. Document the contact or attempts in the ICW tab in the CA Intake.
          3. Follow Indian Child Welfare Manual Chapter 1.
      6. Law Enforcement (LE)
        1. Consult immediately with the intake supervisor if there is an indication the child may be in present danger and a LE  child welfare check may be needed.  See 1110. Present Danger policy.
        2. Follow 2570. Mandated Reports to Law Enforcement policy.
      7. Domestic Violence (DV)
        1. Screen for DV on all intakes by asking the following universal screening questions, “Has any adult used or threatened to use physical force against an adult in the home?” If so, the intake worker must ask, “Who did what to whom?”
        2. Offer DV resource information to the referrer on all screened in or out intakes when DV is identified and the referrer is not familiar with DV resources. Resource information is located at Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the DSHS/CA's DV site.
      8. Contracted Provider
        1. Screen out CPS intakes regarding a contracted provider (not acting as a parent, guardian, or in loco-parentis) that does not have a DLR or DEL license as third party and send the report to LE if an alleged crime has been committed.
        2. Complete a CA Contracts Unit Complaint form (not an intake) when receiving non-CPS complaints regarding a contracted provider that does not have a DLR or DEL license. See Contract Complaint Link on the Contracts Tab on the Intake and CPS page on the CA intranet.
        3. Inform the CA headquarters contracts unit manager when made aware of a screened-in CPS intake related to the following persons or their biological family:
          1. A contracted provider who is not licensed or subject to be licensed by DLR or DEL, or
          2. An employee or sub-contractor of the provider.
      9. Alerts and Requests from Other States 
        1. Generate an intake when an alert or request is received from another state.
          1. Screen in intakes when the child is in Washington state and there are allegations of CA/N that occurred in Washington state meeting the sufficiency screen or there is imminent risk of serious harm.
          2. Screen out the intake when it is determined that the child is not in Washington State.
        2. Screen out intakes with requests for courtesy home walkthroughs or child welfare checks for a child residing in Washington State if there are not allegations of CA/N or imminent risk of harm and refer to appropriate resources (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) or LE).
      10. After Business Hours, Weekends and State Holidays Intake Response  
        1. The intake worker immediately notifies the intake supervisor of an emergent intake (no later than one hour after determining it is emergent).
        2. The intake supervisor will contact the after hours supervisor/area administrator for an after hours response when:
          1. A child is in present or impending danger.
          2. A face-to-face cannot be completed during normal business hours.
      11. Additional Requirements
        1. Provide assurance to referrers that CA will make all legal and reasonable efforts to maintain their confidentiality.
        2. Inform the referrers the name of any referrer may be disclosed for:
          1. Court proceedings.
          2. Dependency or criminal court proceedings.
          3. Criminal Investigations by LE including malicious reporting.
          4. When the court orders disclosure.
        3. Inform the referrer that reports or testimony made in good faith have immunity under RCW 26.44.060.
        4. Generate an intake regardless of where the child resides in Washington state.
        5. Generate a new intake on an open case when a report is received alleging a new instance of abuse or neglect. If the intake is screened in, the case will be assigned to a CPS caseworker.
        6. Identify a minor child as a subject only when he or she is the parent of the alleged victim.
        7. Generate and screen out an intake when a report is received about a pregnant woman’s alleged abuse of substances and if there is no CA/N allegation or imminent risk of serious harm regarding children in her care. Substances can include alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and any drug with abuse potential.
        8. Generate a new screened out intake when a CA caseworker receives additional reports of the same CA/N allegations that are already documented in an intake (excluding facility related intakes) and:
          1. Select the reason code option of “Allegation Documented in Previous Intake.”
          2. Include the previous intake number in the explanation dialogue box in Decision tab in FamLink.
          3. The supervisor must confirm all allegations were previously documented.
        9. Complete the following when any child is reported to intake as Missing from Care (MFC).
          1. Notify the assigned caseworker and his or her supervisor of any child MFC. Refer to Intake Practice Guide on the CA intranet for notification details.
          2. Document the notification in a case note.
        10. Respond to inquiry only calls by providing resource information as requested and available. Inquiry calls are not documented in FamLink because there is no CA/N allegation, concern or request for services specific to CA, and do not require screening.
    4. Create and document the intake in FamLink on the date and time CA receives the information. Complete the intake according to the following timeframes and intake pathways:
      1. Four hours:
        1. Emergent CPS, CPS Risk Only, or DLR/CPS
        2. FRS
      2. Four business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday)
        1. Non-Emergent  Investigation
        2. FAR
        3. Non-Emergent DLR/CPS
      3. Two business days
        1. Information Only
        2. Third Party
        3. CFWS
        4. Rule Infraction
        5. ICPC Home Study. See 5602. ICPC policy.
  2. The intake supervisor will:
    1. Review all intakes to make a final screening decision and pathway assignment. The final screening decision is based upon information in the intake and FamLink, and critical thinking that balances child safety, risk and mitigating factors.
    2. Restrict intake/case records during the process of documenting an intake and notify his or her area administrator when it is learned:
      1. The subject, victim, or client is an employee or family member of DSHS or DEL.
      2. The case is high profile. High profile cases include those involving a child fatality or near-fatality, reports in the media about events in a new intake, a child in an open case is the subject of an Amber Alert, or a parent or caregiver has been arrested as the suspect of child abuse or neglect in a new intake.
      3. The appointing authority determines it is necessary.
    3. Review the case history and current allegations on all screened out intakes that have the chronicity flag indicated to:
      1. Review and document patterns or history to determine if cumulative harm exists. RCW 26.44.020 (16)
      2. Assess if a call back to the referrer or collateral contact is necessary for additional information to make a final screening decision.
    4. Review FamLink Desktop alerts during his or her shift prior to clearing intakes. If there is an alert on a child identified in the intake, he or she will notify the assigned office immediately.
    5. Document an intake time frame extension in a case note explaining the rationale within seven calendar days of granting the extension. Extensions (not to exceed two hours) are only approved by the intake supervisor to allow intake staff additional time to complete collateral contacts.


When completing an intake, the intake worker will follow steps outlined in the Intake Practice Guide located on the Intake page on the CA Intranet.


  • Intake Report DSHS 14-260 located on the Intake and Forms pages on the CA Intranet.