Many families create dangerous behaviors logs to submit as evidence in their applications and appeals for IHSS protective supervision. In about 9 out of every 10 behavior logs I review contain the same critical mistake:
Behavior logs typically don’t contain enough entries to show that the applicant requires 24-hour supervision.
The problem with behavior logs not containing enough entries is that one of the requirements for protective supervision is that the applicant must need 24-hour supervision. (Manual of Policies and Procedures § 30-757.173.) If the applicant’s dangerous behaviors do not occur frequently enough (e.g., every day) or unpredictably, then your appeal could very well be denied. For example, if your behavior log shows that your loved one leaves the stove on around twice a week, an administrative law judge may find that this behavior does not occur often enough to qualify for protective supervision.
One of the ways to avoid this common problem is to document attempted dangerous behavior rather than only document behaviors that are fully carried out. An example of an attempted dangerous behavior is when a parent prevents his/her mentally impaired child from wandering outside by redirecting the child. Even though the child does not succeed in leaving the house, the child still attempted to do so and would have eloped but for the parent’s intervention. The reason to document attempted dangerous behaviors is because it is the policy of the California Department of Social Services that a person does not have to suffer actual injury to be eligible for protective supervision. You only need to demonstrate that the applicant has history of a propensity for placing him/herself in danger. (All-County Letter 15-25.)
Here’s an example of the problem with behaviors logs, which comes from a recent case:
Martha appealed the County’s denial of protective supervision for her son, Jason. Martha created a dangerous behavior log, documenting Jason’s dangerous behaviors for three weeks. Martha described four of Jason’s dangerous behaviors, including putting inedible objects in his mouth, eloping, turning the gas stove on, and misusing the microwave. However, Martha had her hands full during the day by providing constant supervision to Jason while also taking care of her other two children. By the end of the day, Martha was exhausted and had a hard time remembering every time she had to redirect Jason from engaging in a dangerous behavior. So Martha only wrote down one of Jason’s four dangerous behaviors each day. She figured that the administrative law judge will get the gist of the types of behaviors Jason engages in during the three week period.
When Martha attends her hearing, the judge asks her what dangerous behaviors Jason engages in and how often. Martha answers that Jason engages in four dangerous behaviors, each of which occur numerous times per day. However, Martha’s testimony is now inconsistent with her behavior log, which does not show that Jason attempts each dangerous behaviors multiple times per day, or even on a daily basis. The judge may now have doubts about Martha’s credibility.
It should be noted that dangerous behavior logs are generally not required when applying for protective supervision or appealing a denial of protective supervision. Based on the prevalence of the problem with behavior logs, it might be prudent to avoid submitting one as evidence in your case. Instead, there are many other ways to document your loved one’s need for protective supervision.
Ultimately, if you are going to create a dangerous behavior log for your protective supervision case, make sure to document all attempted dangerous behaviors.
The information in this post is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.