3.1 Engaging the Family and Opening the Case


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​An in home CPS case is opened when the assessed level of risk determined by the assessment process, the parental/guardian capacity to protect and the level of informal and formal supports indicate that a child may be safely maintained in their home. A referral for prevention services can be made by the SSW on all open in home CPS cases with a substantiated or a services needed finding (see SOP Chapter 6) for information about DCBS prevention services and referrals.

The services that a SSW may perform are social work functions such as:

  • Family and individual counseling; 
  • Advocacy; 
  • Case coordination; and 
  • Referral to other agencies or community resources.

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) emphasizes key provisions around prevention and family preservation services. FFPSA stresses that children thrive best and deserve to be in family like settings whenever they can do so safely. The use of foster care should be an intervention of last resort. FFPSA has made partial federal title IV-E funds specific to prevention services available to states for the first time.

Practice Guidance


The SSW assigned to the family:
  1. Reviews the results of the investigation/assessment; 
  2. Makes the initial home visit within five (5) working days of the case assignment in order to discuss: 1 
    1. The continuing family assessment; 
    2. Identifying SSW and family roles and expectations; 
    3. Initiating the formation of a family team, including identified fathers as outlined in SOP 4.15 Family Attachment and Involvement; and 
    4. Identifying service providers. 
  3. Along with the family, identifies needed services and the prevention strategy that will be identified on the case plan and possible evidenced based practices (EBPs) that will be needed to mitigate the risk to the child(ren). 
  4. Ensures that the family receives the DPP-154 Service Appeal Request, either by mail or by hand delivery, and documents that the family has received it; 
  5. Asks the appropriate family members to sign the: 
    1. DCBS-1 Informed Consent and Release of Information and Records (if appropriate for HIV/AIDS, alcohol or other drug treatment); 
    2. DCBS-1A Informed Consent and Release of Information and Records Supplement to obtain permission from the client in order to consult with other professionals; and 
    3. DCBS-1B Application for Services
  6. Follows guidelines related to HIPAA compliance; 
  7. Ensures that the family case plan is developed within fifteen (15) calendar days of case assignment by the FSOS.


  1. The purpose of the first visit is to engage the family in establishing a therapeutic relationship based on trust.