SOGIE awareness during child welfare intakes

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance to child welfare services hotline social workers when receiving referrals alleging abuse related to a child or youth’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression (SOGIE).

If there is an allegation of abuse or neglect due to the child’s SOGIE the social worker should ask a list of specified questions.   Social workers must assess the threat to a parent or caregiver’s acts based on SOGIE may pose to the child’s safety and well-being.  Affirming or supporting a child’s SOGIE is not abuse or neglect.

The hotline worker should enter relevant information pertaining to SOGIE into the narrative section of the referral.  Hotline workers do not need to routinely complete the SOGIE data fields unless they have spoken directly to the child in a meaningful conversation about SOGIE.  Probation officers may need to cross report information to child welfare services and must consider SOGIE information when assessing families.

The child is the principle owner of their SOGIE information.  If it is unknown whether the parent or caretaker is aware of the child’s SOGIE, information should not be disclosed without the child’s.  The child welfare services agency must consider the need for privacy of the child’s SOGIE information prior to referring a parent or caregiver to a SOGIE-specific community resource.

Social workers who are first responders should be trained on SOGIE community resources and child’s privacy considerations regarding SOGIE.  (ACL 19-92, October 8, 2019.)