Child Welfare Services Disaster Response Plans

Pursuant to the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, PL 109-288, Section 6 (16); Part B Section 422 of Title IV of the Social Security Act; and Senate Bill 703, Chapter 583, Section 29 (c) Statutes of 2007; and the WIC Section 16500.1(c)(1); the CDSS as the single state agency is mandated to oversee CWS Disaster Response Plans for California. It is in this capacity that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) requests each county to update current changes to their Child Welfare Services (CWS) Disaster Response Plan by using the template created by The Children's Services Quality Management Branch (CSQMB). The template is intended to be used as a guide to help counties incorporate the 2006 federal disaster response criteria as part of local child welfare plans. Minors in the probation system and tribes must also be included in the plan. Counties who contract with Adoption ROs for adoption services should also be included in the plan.

An All County Letter (ACL) or All County Information Notice (ACIN) that provides guidance to the counties and the CWS Disaster Response Plan is sent to the 58 CWS and Probation Department counties annually. Counties are required to update and return plans that address the following criteria to the Disaster Planning and Response Unit (DPRU) by December 31st of each year.

The CWS Disaster Response Plan describes the responsibilities and actions required for the effective operation of locating and monitoring dependent and probationary children under the care or supervision of the CDSS. Disaster response plans includes procedures describing how the county will do the following:

  1. Identify, locate, and continue availability of services for CWS children, Probation children, non-minor dependents, including non-minor dependents residing in foster care, out-of-county placements, children placed in or out of California through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), cross coordination with with Tribal representative for Indian children in placements, and out-of-state non-minor dependents under county care or supervision who are displaced or adversely affected by a disaster;
  2. Respond appropriately to new CWS cases in areas adversely affected by a disaster and provide services in those cases;
  3. Address and provide care for unaccompanied minors;
  4. Remain in communication with caseworkers and other essential child welfare personnel who are displaced because of a disaster;
  5. Preserve essential program records; and
  6. Coordinate services and share information with other states and counties. Include a description of the process utilized by the county to ensure that information regarding children placed pursuant to the ICPC occurs with both the sending state and the CDSS.

If you have any questions regarding recent county Child Welfare Services Disaster Response Plans, please email the DPRU inbox at