Social Workers (AB1978) Hotline

Social workers can report concerns regarding a county child welfare agency practices, policies, or procedures that endanger the health, safety, or well-being of children at: TOLL FREE 1-844-796-6283

Remember, when you report concerns, you not only protect children and families, but also support the improvement of children’s systems though accountability. The mission of child welfare is to ensure the safety and well-being of children and families. Help us to support accountability and ensure children’s services can consistently meet this mission.

Who can report concerns through this hotline?

Social workers who have reasonable cause to believe that a policy, procedure, or practice, related to the provision of child welfare services by a county child welfare agency, that meets the criteria listed below, may make a voluntary report to this hotline.

What types of reports can be made to this hotline?

Any concerns regarding policies, procedures, or practices, related to the provision of child welfare services by a county child welfare agency, that i) endangers the health or well-being of children, ii) are contrary to existing statute or regulation, or iii) are contrary to public policy can be reported through the hotline..

Types of reports that are not able to be accepted include:

  • Labor disputes, such as general personnel matters or disciplinary actions taken within the county;
  • Caseload size complaints that are not part of a larger systemic concern;
  • County facilities, physical plant or work accommodations;
  • Reports from members of the public that are not employed as Social Workers in a county child welfare agency or State Adoptions Workers contracted to provide adoptions services to county child welfare agencies.

How can I report a concern about a policy, procedure, or practice in a county?

Reports of concerns can be made by calling the hotline at 1-844-796-6283. Live staff will be available on the hotline from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday–Friday, excluding holidays. After hours, callers can leave a message with their contact information or reports can be made via the AB 1978 Hotline website by either completing the AB 1978 Hotline Report form or by providing a detailed email and sending it to the AB 1978 Hotline mailbox at AB1978Hotline@dss.ca.gov.

For reporters who wish to send information electronically, it is important to complete the form and provide as much information as possible to help the reviewer ensure they have enough information to follow up or begin an investigation into relevant disclosures.

How will my report be handled?

Once a report is received, it is reviewed by a staff member to determine if it meets the criteria outlined in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 10605.5(a)(1) legislation for the office. If the report is determined to meet the statutory criteria be relevant, then an internal review of the report will be initiated. Depending on the nature of the report, this review may include additional interviewing of the reporting party, review of CWS/CMS records or an onsite review in the county.

Will my confidentiality be protected?

The identity of a social worker making a report under this statute will be protected and can only be released a) if the social worker consents to disclosure, or b) if there is an immediate risk to the health and safety of a child. In the second case, the Department will strive to protect reporter confidentiality, but it should be noted that the details and nature of the report may make it possible for county leadership to infer the source of the report.

An example of a circumstance in which there is immediate risk to the health and safety of a child would be if a report comes in stating a child is in placement with a caregiver who is unsafe and the responsible agency has knowledge of this risk and is taking no action, and there is credible supporting information.

Public reporting of disclosures

Welfare & Institutions Code Section 10605.5(d) mandates that CDSS report and publish summary information from reports received by the hotline and the actions taken by the department in response beginning January 1, 2018. Publication information will be available here on or after that date.

Can I face repercussions for making a disclosure?

Social workers making a report may be protected under whistleblower laws when disclosing information about violations or noncompliance with law in the workplace. The State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has information regarding the California Whistleblower Protection Act (Labor Code Section 1102.5). In addition, there is a fact sheet available that provides clarification on what is covered under the Whistleblower law.

For more information or to discuss possible concerns, you may also consult your local labor representative.

Contact information

You can contact the AB 1978 Hotline through the toll free number, or for administrative questions, you can contact the Outcomes and Accountability Bureau at (916) 651-8099 and ask to speak to someone regarding the AB 1978 Hotline program. For other types of reports, you can contact the following programs:

  • For concerns about children or youth in foster care, you can contact the Foster Care Ombudsman’s Office to report abuse or right’s violations, as well as other foster care concerns.
  • For concerns or violations in licensed foster care, residential or child care facilities, you can make a report to Community Care Licensing through their complaint hotline or website.

Frequently asked questions & resources

A list of frequently asked questions about the Social Worker hotline is available to the public.

Public information poster is also available for social workers to reference.