5160. Adverse Action on a Foster Care License

Notice: Due to leadership decisions to create statewide consistency and to support the DCYF RESJ framework, recent court decisions, legislation, recent WAC changes, and the launch of the online application portal, etc., this policy is under current revision and may not reflect current practice. For specifics about these changes, please email DCYF Rules and Policies Unit for assistance.

Approval:       Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 1974

Revised Date: August 31, 2015

Sunset Review: August 31, 2018


Provide Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) staff direction when a licensing violation occurs in a licensed foster home or facility that affects the health, safety and well-being of children placed.


This policy applies to all DLR licensing staff.


RCW 43.20A.205
RCW 74.14A.020
RCW 74.15.010


  1. DLR has jurisdiction over all foster home licenses and licensing applicants even if a person requests to withdraw his/her licensing application, or fails to renew his/her license. WAC 388-148-1625 (3).
  2. DLR must deny, suspend, or revoke a license when a licensee cannot care for children in a manner that provides for the safety, health and well-being of children.
  3. DLR may limit or restrict a license or require the licensee to enter into a compliance agreement to ensure the safety, health and well-being of children in care.
  4. DLR may suspend or revoke a license, if a foster home or group care licensee has more children, different ages or genders than the license allows without prior approval from the licensor.   
  5. DLR must disqualify any person from having unsupervised contact with children in out-of-home care if he or she does not meet licensing requirements. RCW 74.15; WAC 388-06A
  6. If DLR denies a request for an exemption to the Minimum Licensing Requirements (MLR), a licensee does not have appeal rights.


  1. Considering a legal action:
    The DLR worker must:
    1. Consider a legal action against the licensee when one of the following has occurred:
    2. Substantiation of child abuse or neglect.
    3. Serious licensing violations that cannot be corrected.
    4. Follow the Decision Making Matrix and consult with the Assistant Attorney General’s (AAG) Office when considering a legal action or change to a license.
    5. Determine the adverse action in consultation with DLR management.
    6. Changes to a license action include:
      1. The DLR worker may modify the license at any time during the licensing period depending on the circumstances or wishes of the licensee.  
      2. The DLR worker must notify the state home licensee of his/her appeal rights when any modification is made to the license, unless the change occurs at license renewal.
    7. Changes to a probationary license, actions include:
      1. DLR may issue a probationary license as part of a corrective action plan when the licensee is unable to comply with MLRs or has been the subject of multiple complaints or concerns about noncompliance with licensing regulations.  Probationary licenses are rarely issued, and should only be considered as a final attempt to bring a licensee into compliance.  Probationary licenses are not considered full licenses and placements with probationary licenses are not eligible for IV-E funding. 
      2. When deciding whether a probationary license will be issued, the following must be considered:
        1. An intentional or negligent violation of licensing requirements.
        2. A history of violation of licensing requirements.
        3. A current violation of licensing requirements.
        4. Whether the licensee is making a good faith effort to comply with the licensing requirements.
        5. Any other factors relevant to the specific situation. 
    8. In collaboration with the licensee, the DLR worker will develop a plan to correct the area of noncompliance within the probationary period.
    9. A probationary license may be issued for up to six months and, at the discretion of DLR, and may be extended for an additional six months.
    10. DLR must immediately terminate the probationary license if, at any time, the noncompliance for which the probationary license was issued presents an immediate threat to the health or well-being of the children.
    11. An existing license is invalidated when a probationary license is issued.
    12. At the expiration of the probationary license, DLR will reinstate the original license for the remainder of its term, issue a new license, or revoke the original license.
    13. Probationary licenses will only be issued following staffing with the DLR Administrator and the AAG, with an agreement from the licensee.
    14. Upon approval as to form and content by the AAG, the DLR Area Administrator must sign and send the final letter by certified mail or other proper method of service to the licensee as provided in RCW 43.20A.205.
    15. Licensees may request to be placed on a no referral status at any time.
    16. The licensee does not have appeal rights if DLR makes the decision not to issue a probationary license.
  2. Agency Staff Disqualification, or Licensing Denials, Suspensions or Revocations
    The DLR worker must:
    1. Consult with the AAG when considering agency staff disqualification, denial, suspension, or revocation, to determine legal sufficiency.
    2. Prepare a draft disqualification, denial, suspension, or revocation (as applicable) letter for review by the AAG when a determination is made to take adverse licensing action. The letter must include:
    3. Document a concise summary of the CPS or licensing allegations (if applicable), RCW, and WAC violations, findings, and conclusions.
    4. Document any corrective action attempted, if appropriate.
    5. Detailed citation of all applicable RCW/WAC violated.
    6. Complete information advising the licensee of their administrative hearing rights, including the filing process and timeframes.
    7. Send an approved letter by the AAG to the DLR Supervisor to sign and send to the DLR Area Administrator for final approval.
    8. Send the signed letter by certified mail or other proper method of service to the licensee. RCW 43.20A.205
    9. Send the DLR Administrator settlements to review and approve.
    10. Consult with the AAG when an Administrative Law Judge overturns the licensing action.