New foster parent applications are on pause 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. 

Caring for My Relative or Friend's Child

What to Expect

In the first days of your kinship child's placement, there is a lot that happens, including:

  • An invitation to attend a Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) meeting where you can hear more about the reasons why your kinship child is experiencing foster care. We strongly encourage you to attend this meeting if possible!
  • A court "shelter care hearing" will be held within 72 hours. Read more about the different kinds of hearings in the brochure "Dependency Court Process for Caregivers."
  • A caseworker visits with you and your kinship child during the first week.
  • A medical insurance coverage card will be mailed to you. You can also ask the caseworker to look up the young person's Provider One or Apple Health Core Connections identification number in FamLink.
  • Family Time visits with parents and siblings.  Support your kinship child's connection to their parent(s) and siblings by following the court and your caseworker's instructions about Family Time.

What to Do

There are a few things you'll need to do after your kinship child is placed in your home:

  • Keep your kinship child enrolled in and attending the school they were in when they lived with their parent(s). If you believe a new school needs to be discussed, please talk with your kinship child's caseworker.
  • Schedule an initial medical appointment using one of the following options:
    • Option 1
      • Schedule an initial health screen within the first five days of placement.
        AND
      • Schedule an EPSDT or Well Child exam within 30 days of coming into care.
    • Option 2
      • Schedule an EPSDT or Well-Child exam within the first five days of placement.
      • Schedule a dental exam if a child has one tooth. This is not required if the child has had a dental exam in the past six months.
  • Keep track of transportation expenses on the Caregiver Monthly Transportation Reimbursement form and turn in complete forms to the child or youth's caseworker.
  • Set up any necessary child care. Connect with Child Care Aware of Washington for help locating child care near you.
  • Tell the caseworker about any unplanned parent-child contact, such as phone calls, unexpected visits, etc.
  • Share with the caseworker any concerns regarding the child, such as abuse, neglect, medical, behavioral, developmental, or educational issues.

Ongoing Considerations

Financial Support

  • Caring for children and youth comes with expenses, and there are two important options to consider for ongoing financial support.
  • Non-Needy Child-Only TANF
    • TANF is an important financial resource that provides a monthly payment to unlicensed caregivers for eligible children in their care. You are strongly encouraged to apply!
    • Apply online at www.washingtonconnection.org or visit your local Community Services Office. While you may be asked for information about your income, your TANF eligibility will not be based on your income because you are a kinship caregiver. If you are applying in person or calling to ask questions about TANF, be sure to let the person you are speaking with know that you are an unlicensed kinship caregiver.
  • Licensing
    • Getting licensed provides the greatest long-term financial support available to kinship caregivers. Getting licensed is a process, and our goal is to support you through the experience.
    • DCYF Licensing Division is ready to help you! Kinship caregivers are eligible for considerations that are not available to foster parents. From income to training requirements, there are a lot of licensing elements that can be changed to help you get licensed.

Support

You are a family member as well as a kinship caregiver; juggling these roles may be challenging. You may have sad or disappointed feelings about why your kinship child needed to be placed in your care. You may need to use new or different parenting approaches with your kinship child. These feelings and experiences are normal. Consider attending a support group where you can meet other kinship caregivers who share similar experiences. Visit the Alliance CaRES to learn more.

Parents

You may be saying to yourself, "But I want these kids to go home to their parent(s). This isn't supposed to be a long-term placement." We support you in wanting your kinship child to go home. In fact, reunification is our first and primary goal, but we know that sometimes a parent may need more support or time to learn new behaviors. Even if you think your kinship child will be placed with you for a short period of time, we encourage you to get licensed and begin benefiting from the support available through licensing.

Contacting a Caseworker

Some relatives and family friends know that a parent is struggling and that the family member's children may need to stay with someone else. Other times, a kinship caregiver is surprised to hear that their kinship child needs to live with someone else for a while.

  • If you believe that you may need to step forward to be a placement resource, contact the family's caseworker: 
    • If your relative's child is experiencing foster care, ask for the family's caseworker's name and contact the caseworker. If you don't have the caseworker's contact details, you can look them up in the DCYF employee directory
  • If you believe that a relative's child is experiencing foster care, but you aren't sure, please be aware that DCYF can neither confirm nor deny that a child is in placement. One way to bridge this challenge is to call the local child welfare office that serves the area in which the family lives.  
    • When DCYF staff answer the phone, share that you are calling because you believe your relative's child entered care and you would like to speak with the caseworker.  While the receptionist can't tell you if your relative's children are in care, they can get you to a caseworker or supervisor who can. 

What is ICPC, and Does it Impact Me

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is an agreement that governs the placement of children from one state into another state.

Have You Received a Relative Search Letter?

  • Call or email the search specialist listed in your letter. Learn about ways you can support and be involved with your relative or family friend and their child or youth. Then, decide how or if you are able to help.
  • Relative search will continue through the life of a case until reunification or permanency is found.