4260. Placement Moves

Original Date: September 27, 1995

Revised Date: June 9, 2022

Sunset Review: June 30, 2026

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff

Policy Update Memo Effective July 1, 2023


Provide direction to Department of Child, Youth & Families (DCYF) child welfare employees about children in DCYF care and custody currently placed in out-of-home care and:  

  • Identifying when it is necessary for a move to a different out-of-home placement.
  • Notifying current kinship and licensed caregivers about a child’s prospective move.


This policy applies to DCYF child welfare and Licensing Division (LD) employees.   


RCW 13.34.050  Court order to take child into custody, when—Hearing.

RCW 13.34.130  Order of disposition for a dependent child, alternatives—Petition seeking termination of parent-child relationship—Placement with relatives, foster family home, group care facility, or other suitable persons—Placement of an Indian child in out-of-home care—Contact with siblings.

RCW 13.34.150  Modification of orders.

RCW 26.44.056  Protective detention or custody of abused child—Reasonable cause—Notice—Time limits—Monitoring plan—Liability.

RCW 74.13.300  Enforcement action—Definition

RCW 74.15.030  Powers and duties of secretary

42 U.S.C. 671  State plan for foster care and adoption assistance


  1. Child welfare employees must:
    1. Attempt to minimize placement moves for children in out-of-home care.
    2. Not move children placed with relatives or suitable persons, unless:
      1. Their health, safety, and well-being cannot be protected adequately in their current placement or they are hindering the child’s return home, per RCW 13.34.130.
      2. The court orders the placement change.
  2. When determining if a child should be moved, child welfare employees must consider the child’s safety, permanency needs, and what is in their best interest.
  3. Determining when to move a child in the care and custody of DCYF:
    1. Present danger or safety threat
      1. Child welfare employees must seek removal of a child from an out-of-home placement if they determine the child’s placement poses a present danger or safety threat to the child.
      2. LD
        1. LD CPS investigators must notify their supervisor when a child is in present danger, there is a safety threat, or their safety is in jeopardy per RCW 74.15.010.The LD CPS supervisor must immediately contact the assigned caseworker’s supervisor once they receive notification of the safety concern and are recommending the child to be removed.
        2. If LD and caseworkers disagree about removing the child, LD and child welfare employees must follow the chain of command up to the Licensing and Field Operations assistant secretaries for review. The Field Operations assistant secretary will determine placement of the child.
    2. Caseworkers must seek removal of a child if a caregiver’s home study is not approved per Placements with Unlicensed Relatives or Suitable Person policy.
    3. Founded Finding in a Foster Home
      If child welfare employees, the private agency, or a tribe asks LD to maintain the license of a foster home or group care provider after the provider receives a founded finding of child abuse or neglect:
      1. LD can only continue the license if it is within the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) guidelines per 42 U.S.C. 671. This does not include tribe-licensed homes or facilities.
      2. The LD area administrator (AA) must consult ASFA guidelines for corrective action plans and continuation of foster care licenses.
      3. The child welfare regional administrator (RA) and the LD senior administrator must review the case with the director of field operations before caseworkers’ process adoption consents or agreement to a plan of guardianship if a child remains with a caregiver or in a facility with a founded finding for child abuse or neglect (CA/N) or where LD believes revocation is necessary.
    4. Revoked Foster Home License
      If LD revokes the license and children in DCYF care and custody are presently in the home, the LD AA must:
      1. Notify the child welfare AA and the private agency or tribal social service agency, when applicable.
      2. Conduct a joint staffing with child welfare employees to discuss the issues and concerns, and the child’s safety and permanency. Child welfare employees will determine placement of the child.
  4. Prior to Moving a Child
    Caseworkers must:
    1. Offer or provide services, e.g., respite, Family Preservation Services (FPS) or evidence based practices (EBP), or Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) that can support the child remaining in the home if:
      1. The placement does not pose a present danger or a safety threat, and
      2. DCYF is considering moving a child or the caregiver is asking for the child to be moved.  
    2. Consult their supervisor regarding recommendations to move a child before making a decision to remove a child.
    3. Conduct a Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) meeting prior to an out-of-home placement move, or within 72-hours of the move if an immediate safety threat warrants removal before an FTDM meeting can occur.
    4. Verify children placed with relatives or suitable persons:
      1. Health, safety, and well-being are not being protected adequately in their current placement or that they are hindering efforts to return the child home, per RCW 13.34.130.
      2. Have a court order for the placement change.
  5. Moving a Child
    1. Caseworkers must:
      1. Follow Indian Child Welfare (ICW) Policies and Procedures when there is reason to know any one of the following:
        1. The child is a member of a federally recognized tribe.
        2. The child is eligible for membership and is the biological child of a member of a federally recognized tribe.
        3. The juvenile court has found that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies.
      2. Reconsider placing the child with full or half-siblings according to Placement Out-of-Home and Conditions for Return Home policy.
      3. Contact the Relative Search Unit (RSU) whenever a relative search is needed and follow the Kinship Care: Searching for, Placing with, and Supporting Relatives and Suitable Other Person policy. The RSU will complete the Relative Search Tracking DCYF 10-544 form with all relatives identified.
      4. Follow the Licensed Foster Care and Licensed Kinship Care: Placement and Support policy if a child moves to a new licensed placement.
      5. Follow Placement - Intensive Resources and Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) policies if a child is moved out of state.
    2. Follow Behavior Rehabilitation Services (BRS) policy if a child or youth is receiving BRS and coordinate moving the child or youth with the regional BRS program manager.
  6. Notification to Caregivers
    1. If a child has lived in the same foster or kinship family home for at least 90 calendar days, the caseworker, or LD employees if agreed to in writing, must notify caregivers at least five days prior to moving a child using Five-Day Notice to Move DCYF 27-082 unless:
      1. A court order requires an immediate change in placement.
      2. The child is being returned home.
      3. The child’s safety is in jeopardy.
      4. The child is residing in a receiving home or group home.
    2. If a child has not lived in the same foster or kinship family home for at least 90 consecutive days, or one of the circumstances in 6. a. 1- 4 applies and it is not possible to provide five days’ notification, then the caseworker must notify the foster family of the child’s impending move as soon as reasonably possible.
    3. If LD recommends moving a child from placement, the assigned caseworker must inform the licensed provider of the child’s move as soon as possible unless the LD employee has agreed to do so.
  7. Documentation
    Caseworkers must:
    1. Document in FamLink a child’s move within three business days of a child moving.
    2. Describe the following information in FamLink.
      1. Efforts to prevent the placement move and reasons why the child was moved.
      2. Child’s routine and special needs related to their:
        1. Safety
        2. Psychological well-being
        3. Physical and behavioral health care
        4. Culture
        5. Education
        6. Religious affiliation
      3. Efforts to place siblings together.
    3. Document in an ICW specific case note, efforts taken to find placement consistent with placement preferences when there is reason to believe the child is a member, or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, in a federally recognized child according to Chapter 7: Indian Child Placement Preferences and Relative Search in Indian Child Welfare Policies and Procedures.


Five-Day Notice to Move DCYF 27-082 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

Relative Search Tracking DCYF 10-544 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)