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Originated in 1993, the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) is a federal initiative designed to assist states in implementing a system that is expected to be a comprehensive automated case management tool that meets the needs of all child welfare staff involved in foster care and adoption assistance case management. SACWIS collects and manages information necessary to facilitate the delivery of child welfare support services, including family support and family preservation. In exchange for the additional funding provided to a state to implement a SACWIS, the state must agree that the SACWIS will be the sole case management automation tool used by the public and private caseworkers so that SACWIS holds a state's "official case record" - a complete, current, accurate, and unified case management history on all children and families served by the Title IV-B/IV-E state agency. SACWIS is required to support the reporting of data to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) and the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and to interface with a State's Title IV-A (TANF), Title XIX (Medicaid), and Title IV-D (Child Support) systems. Currently, most states are at some stage of SACWIS planning, development, implementation, or operation. Washington State is currently SACWIS compliant and its SACWIS is called FamLink.



Functioning as a “case management” system, SACWIS is the electronic case file for children and families served by a state’s child welfare programs. AFCARS are reports/data produced by SACWIS for the federal Administration of Families and Children. States (such as Washington State) that develop a SACWIS with federal funding must not collect the AFCARS data from a separate information system once the SACWIS is operation.


Safety Assessment

Used throughout the life of the case, a safety assessment identifies impending danger and determines whether a child is safe or unsafe. Assessments are based on comprehensive information gathered about the family.


Safety Plan

A casework document developed when it is determined that the child is in imminent or potential risk of serious harm is referred to as a safety plan. In the plan, the child welfare caseworker targets the factors that are causing or contributing to the risk of imminent serious harm to the child, and identifies, along with the family, the interventions that will control them and ensure the child's protection. In Washington State, the safety plan is a written agreement between a family and CA that identifies how safety threats to a child will be immediately controlled and managed. The safety plan is implemented and active as long as threats to child safety exist and caregiver protective capacities are insufficient to protect the child.


Secure Crisis Residential Centers (S-CRC)

In Washington State, S-CRCs provide twenty-four hour availability for short-term out-of-home placements of up to five days for runaways placed by law enforcement. These facilities were mandated by the "Becca Bill" legislation passed in 1995. The S-CRCs are either facility secure or staff secure, but otherwise operate as other CRCs, with an emphasis on assessment of needs and family reunification.


Sexual Abuse

Defined by DSHS as committing—or allowing to be committed—any sexual offense against a child as defined in the Washington State criminal code, sexual abuse is the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the sexual or other intimate parts of a child or allowing, permitting, compelling, encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing a child to engage in touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the person touching the child, the child, or a third party. In general, to be considered child abuse that CPS will investigate, these acts have to be committed by a person responsible for the care of a child (e.g., a daycare provider, a parent, or a licensed foster parent). If a person not responsible for the care of the child commits these acts, it may be considered sexual assault and would be investigated solely by the police.



Shelter Care Hearing

When a child is removed from her parent’s care, the court must hold a shelter care hearing within 72 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. The primary purpose of the shelter care hearing is to determine whether the child can be immediately and safely returned home while the adjudication of the dependency is pending. The court will order removal from the parents’ care if it finds reasonable cause to believe that reasonable efforts were made to prevent removal and either the child has no parent to care for her or release of the child to the parent would present a serious threat of substantial harm to the child.



A brother or sister is a child’s sibling. The Children’s Administration is committed to keeping brothers and sisters placed into out-of-home care together whenever possible.


Social Impact Bonds (SIB)

Social Impact Bonds use private investments to implement or expand prevention and early intervention social programs that have a high likelihood of offsetting future public costs. New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have been early adopters of SIB investments to address prisoner recidivism, homelessness, and unemployment. The United Kingdom has been a leader in developing pilot SIB investment programs aimed at preventing/reducing out-of-home care for children. See the link to POC’s brief on SIBs and follow the link below for detailed information on the essential criteria to consider before considering a SIB investment.


Solution Based Casework (SBC)

A component of Washington State’s practice model, solution based casework (SBC)  is a family-centered practice model that identifies the safety threats to the child and builds on a family's strengths to alleviate the threat. Caseworkers are taught engagement skills, interviewing techniques, family life cycle development frameworks, and relapse prevention techniques. In their work with families, caseworkers: 1) quickly build a consensus with the family and service providers on what needs to happen to reduce threats, protect children, and set achievable goals; 2) help the family identify cycles of maltreatment and utilize relapse prevention techniques to prevent further maltreatment; 3) document and offer encouragement for improvements; 4) focus on every day challenges the family faces; 5) work with the family to document where specific risk factors and safety threats have or have not been managed. The three basic goals of SBC are: case plans specific to safety threats; respectful partnership; and focus on pragmatic everyday family life tasks. See Practice Model.


Solution Focused Management (SFM)

To support caseworkers in their use of Solution Based Casework (SBC), Children’s Administration trained all management staff in SFM. SFM helps CA managers support caseworkers implement SBC; it is a parallel process that reinforces the manager’s use of the same values, techniques, and language used by caseworkers with their clients. SFM involves: identifying solutions that are already working and amplifying them to promote positive changes; focusing on what’s possible rather than on the causes of problems; getting managers to stop doing what isn't working and look for opportunities to do things differently; encouraging managers to turn to the expertise and strengths within their team for solutions that work; and encouraging managers to apply solution focused principles and concepts in their management style, including language and questions derived from solution focused interviewing.


Structured Decision Making (SDM®)

Designed as a tool to assist CPS workers in making decisions regarding child safety and the risks associated with a child remaining in a home, the risk assessment portion of Structured Decision Making (SDM®) was implemented by Washington State in October 2007 following an intensive training and validation process.