DCYF will be transitioning to an online caregiver application system. 
To ensure a smooth rollout, DCYF is pausing new foster parent applications from Nov. 1, 2022 - Mar. 1, 2023.
This does not apply to kinship applications, license renewals, and those getting licensed through a child placing agency. 

Guidelines, Laws & Rules



Washington State laws and rules that pertain to foster care can be found at the following:

  • Child Care Agencies/Licensing Requirements
    • WAC 110-148 - Minimum Licensing Requirements for Child Foster Homes
    • WAC 110-145 - Minimum  Licensing Requirements for Group Care Facilities
    • WAC 110-147 - Minimum  Licensing Requirements for Child Placing Agencies
  • General

Federal laws that apply to foster care and adoptions can be found at the following:


4420. Health and Safety Visits with Children and Monthly Visits with Caregivers and Parents

43022. Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care

According to the above DCYF policy 43022, Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care, the following is not allowed:

  • Use of the child or youth’s name
  • Identifying the child or youth as being a child in care
  • Any sharing of case specific information about the child or youth or the child or youth’s family

In some cases, there could also be a safety concern around even sharing a child or youth’s photo, so please check in with the child or youth’s assigned DCYF worker before posting.

Investigating Abuse and Neglect FAQ

These questions and answers describe what you can expect when reporting abuse and neglect and when foster parents are being investigated for allegations of abuse and/or neglect or a licensing violation.

Anyone who suspects abuse and neglect of a child may call their local DCYF office or EndHarm (1-866-363-4276) to make a referral.

The law requires mandated reporters to report suspected abuse and neglect to CPS or local law enforcement.

  1. The name, address and age of the child.
  2. The name and address of the child's parent, guardian or other persons having custody of the child.
  3. The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.
  4. Any evidence of previous incidences.
  5. Any other information which may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child's abuse or neglect and the identity of the perpetrator.

You do not need to have all of this information when you call to make a report, but the more accurate information you can provide, the better equipped the offices will be to assess the child's risk.

Allegations of child abuse and neglect in licensed facilities are investigated by the Licensing Division Child Protective Services (LD/CPS). The LD/CPS investigator has up to 72 hours to make face to face contact with the alleged victim of child abuse. The investigator will notify the foster parents of the referral at the earliest point in the investigation that will not jeopardize child safety. Investigators usually have 45 days to complete an investigation. Investigations are not to exceed 90 days unless law enforcement is involved. At the end of the investigation, the investigator will send written notice of findings to the alleged subject and the parents of the alleged victim.

The Licensing Division Child Protective Services (LD/CPS) investigates concerns about child abuse and neglect as defined by law RCW 26.44. These allegations are about physical abuse, sexual abuse, negligent treatment and/or maltreatment, abandonment, exploitation, and child fatalities. Licensing investigations are about licensing regulation violations (WAC 110-148). Some referrals may include both licensing violations and child abuse and/or neglect allegations. The licensor will follow up on any licensing concerns that come to the department's attention during either type of investigation.

Because foster children are in the Department of Children, Youth, and Families' care, social workers, including LD investigators and licensors, may speak with foster children without your consent. LD/CPS social workers investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect may also interview your biological and adopted children without your consent. However, they must notify you that they have interviewed your children as soon as possible as long as informing you will not jeopardize the safety of children or the investigation. Licensors investigating licensing violations need your consent to speak with your children.