340:75-1-26.1. Safety procedures for field visits
Personal safety precautions are taken by each Child Welfare Services employee due to the involuntary nature of many child welfare services and potential for volatile and dangerous situations. • 1
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-1-26.1
1. (a) Prior to initiating a home visit with a client for any purpose, the child welfare CW specialist:
(1) assesses case record information and determines whether there are any risk factors associated with the family, the family's home or neighborhood.When the specialist believes the home visit cannot be made safely, the CW supervisor is consulted.When the CW supervisor determines the home visit presents safety concerns, law enforcement is contacted for assistance;
(2) prepares either a paper day sheet or schedule in Microsoft Outlook Calendar, listing the planned visits for the day and maintains the schedule as much as possible.A copy of the day sheet is left in plain sight on the CWspecialist's desk or with the supervisor.When major changes in the schedule occur, the CW specialist informs the district office of the changes;
(3) arranges the work schedule to conduct new or questionable visits early in the day;
(4) notifies office staff when he or she leaves the office and returns.The CW specialist notifies the district office after his or her last visit of the day is finished when the specialist does not intend to return to the office; and
(5) is aware of where help can be obtained in the area of the home visit in case of an emergency.
(b) District offices maintain adequate basic safety equipment supplies for the CW specialist to keep in the car when making home visits.The CW specialist, has available:
(1) a cellular phone, whenever possible;
(2) one change of clothing;
(3) clean towels for clean-up or decontamination;
(4) surgical gloves for handling the injured or methamphetamine-exposed child;
(5) disinfectant hand wipes;
(6) plastic trash bags for covering car seats and floorboards, and for carrying clothes that may need decontamination; and
(7) dust masks to limit breathing chemicals or other fumes.
(c) When preparing to park and leave the vehicle used for making the home visit, the CW specialist:
(1) parks in the open and near a light source that offers the safest walking route to the home;
(2) locates the clients' building before exiting the car when the clients' residence is in an apartment complex, whenever possible;
(3) parks on the street rather than a driveway, and in the direction the specialist plans to leave; and
(4) takes only the items necessary to complete the home visit.Purses or wallets are concealed when left in a parked and locked car.
(d) When approaching the residence, the CW specialist:
(1) looks and listens for signs of someone in the residence and assesses whether there is any indication of danger from the occupants of the residence;
(2) is aware of any smells associated with substance abuse;
(3) observes the outside of the residence, the surrounding homes, any animals, or unfamiliar vehicles; and
(4) when carrying a cellular phone, programs the phone to easily dial 911.
(e) To make a safe entrance into the residence, the CW specialist:
(1) goes only to the door that is in plain sight of the street and stands to the side of the door when knocking;
(2) as the door is opened, looks quickly inside to determine if there are any safety threats;
(3) does not enter the home if an unseen person calls for the specialist to enter;
(4) quickly evaluates the clients' attitude and demeanor to determine if there are warning signs of aggression, violence, substance use, or suspicious behavior;
(5) does not enter the home when an adult is not present.When there are children in the home who may be unable to care for themselves alone, law enforcement assistance is immediately requested; and
(6) does not enter the home when accompanied by law enforcement.
(A) When law enforcement enters the home when no adult is present, the CW specialist remains outside the residence to ensure thespecialist's physical safety.
(B) When law enforcement requests the CW specialist's assistance in the residence due to an emergency with the child, the CW specialist does not enter the residence until it has been secured by law enforcement and is determined safe to enter;
(7) does not attempt to aggressively persuade the client to allow entrance to the home when he or she refuses to allow access.When denied access, the specialist leaves the residence and consults with a supervisor; and
(8) leaves the residence when he or she does not feel safe entering the home and consults with a supervisor.
(f) When in the client's residence, the CW worker specialist is particularly aware of any signs of risk.The CW specialist:
(1) once inside theclient's residence, stays near an exit and remains alert and observant;
(2) pays attention to any unusual smells, particularly those associated with the manufacture or use of drugs;
(3) remains aware of the possibility of any other persons in the residence and inquires about anyone that may appear to be in another room;
(4) does not go into any other parts of the residence without the client's permission.Proceeds with caution when entering any room; and
(5) leaves immediately when there is risk to specialist's safety.
(g) When leaving the client's residence, the CW specialist remains alert to safety risks by:
(1) observing any activity or persons near the residence or in the neighborhood;
(2) having car keys in hand when walking to the parked car; and
(3) not lingering to make phone calls or notes, but instead leaves the neighborhood immediately.
(h) When the CW specialist has an ongoing permanency planning or family-centered services case with original or new allegations of methamphetamine use or manufacture, the same precautions are taken as in an investigation.[OAC 340: 75-3-8.7]