Family and Children's Index (FCI)
The Family and Children’s Index (FCI) is an interagency data information system which ties together basic information about children and their families who have had relevant contact and have been identified as at-risk for abuse or neglect by the participating agencies. The data is gathered from each agency’s existing data system(s). FCI allows authorized professionals from participating agencies to know when other agencies may have pertinent information about a child or family with whom they are involved.
In 1991, Assembly Bill 3491 (Gotch) was adopted by the State Legislature, which added Section 18961.5 to the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC). This Section authorizes counties to establish a computerized database system within the county to allow specified provider agencies to share certain identifying information regarding families at-risk for child abuse or neglect for the purpose of forming multi-disciplinary teams.
Provider agencies are defined as governmental or other agencies which have as one of their purposes the prevention, identification, management or treatment of child abuse or neglect. The provider agencies serving children and their families which may share certain identifying information under WIC Section 18961.5 include, but are not limited to: Social Services, Children’s Services, Health Services, Mental Health Services, Probation, Law Enforcement and Schools.
In June 2009, there was a Board Motion to enhance FCI. This Board Motion came after considerable efforts were made by the County to identify an information sharing system in use in another county or state. No such system was ever identified. Thus, it was ordered that FCI be enhanced and under the leadership of the CEO, ICAN, DCFS, ISD and other affected agencies, much work was done to significantly improve FCI.
A new (MOU) was executed on August 11, 2010. Attached to the MOU are the participating agencies protocols for use of the system. The following Los Angeles County Departments/Agencies participate with FCI: ICAN, Chief Executive Office, Los Angeles County District Attorney, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Health Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, Probation Department and the Department of Public Social Services. In addition, there was a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that was entered into with the Los Angeles Police Department on October 22, 2010 and an additional amendment to the MOU was executed on July 22, 2011 to add the Department of Coroner.
In the work to enhance FCI, additional legislation was secured. This legislation includes: County-sponsored AB 2322 (Feuer/Bass) which was signed by the Governor on September 29, 2010. The law became effective immediately because an urgency clause was attached to the bill.
This law allows FCI to:
AB 2229 (Brownley), introduced by the District Attorney (DA), was also signed into law on September 29, 2010. This law facilitates a more expeditious exchange of information among participating FCI agencies by reducing the number of members required to form a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) from three to two. It also allows for the information to be shared in person, telephonically, by facsimile or electronically. This law became effective on January 1, 2011. And on June 11, 2013, AB 406 (Torres/Bloom) was signed which removed the Sunset clause from AB 2229 WIC 18951.7 – provisions added with AB 2229 now operate indefinitely.
Current state law for FCI can be found in Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Sections 18961.5 to 18961.7.
In 2010 a Communications Log (called the CommLog) was developed which allows for agencies to connect with one another electronically – making it much more efficient and easy for an agency to find out actual case information about another agency’s involvement with a family. The CommLog allows requests for information between departments to be sent through secure electronic means using the County’s Intranet. All activity is logged and tracked allowing for effective monitoring of all requests.
The CommLog works as follows:
The FCI Leadership Team is currently in the process of working with FCI participants on an updated MOU – which will now be a MOA so that county and city agencies can all be covered in one document. Agencies have been asked to examine their criteria as to what data they will contribute to FCI and these may be updated as well. Also, discussions have taken place between the FCI Leadership Team and a number of Independent Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and MOAs to add these LEAs will continue to be pursued. Work will also take place to expand FCI usage by adding Los Angeles County Office of Education, Children’s Hospital, private hospitals and city school districts.
FCI is an extremely valuable system as it directly addresses concerns regarding information sharing by allowing for information to be shared through the use of a 2 person MDT and also allows for this information to be shared electronically. No other system allows for this kind of information sharing. FCI is automated, efficient and easy to use and is of great value to users of the system who can easily obtain much needed information for case investigation and case development.