4532. Therapeutic Or Treatment Foster Care

Service Definition

  1. Therapeutic or treatment foster homes are those licensed foster families that have been identified to care for extremely behaviorally/emotionally disturbed children who cannot function in a family home without specialized treatment and expertise.
  2. Therapeutic foster parents have specialized skills in managing these children. Often these homes have a pre-determined, designated intensive "package" of services that are delivered to every child placed in the therapeutic foster home.
  3. Therapeutic foster care is provided directly through DCFS licensed foster homes and by contract or agreement with other agencies. These services do not include those accessed through Rehabilitative Treatment Services described in section 4533, following. If Treatment Foster Care is provided through a Rehabilitation Treatment Services contract, see section 4533 for provisions for access and management.


Eligibility is determined, in accordance with regional procedures, following assessment of service and placement options.

Procedures for Access

  1. The social worker determines that appropriate relative care is not available prior to placement of the child in foster care.
  2. The social worker locates and contacts an available, appropriate foster home parent utilizing the locally determined placement system.
  3. The social worker informs the foster parent of DCFS responsibilities toward finding a relative that is similar and familiar to the child. The social worker assists the foster parent by providing clear information and consultation/resources if needed to care for a particular child.
  4. In instances where placement is not emergent, the social worker must arrange pre-placement visits to reduce the anxiety of the child around the placement and to familiarize the child with the child's temporary family. When possible and appropriate, the social worker must involve parents in pre-placement visits. Unless emergency preempts such involvement, the child's social worker must be involved in the pre- placement visits and the actual placement in the foster home. See section 45282, paragraph H, for the requirement to contact the child placed after hours or on weekends within the next few days following placement.
  5. To reduce conflict between DCFS and foster parents about the temporary nature of foster care, social workers need to be clear at the time of placement, and regularly thereafter, about the long term and permanency plan for the child.
    1. To help the foster parent decide if they can care for the child, the social worker provides the foster home parent with information about the immediate condition of the child, the child's behaviors, school and medical information, and specifics of the permanency plan that will affect the child and the placement. See the Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 4000, section 4120, paragraph A, for requirements to disclose information regarding HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases to the residential care provider for the child who is less than 14 years of age.
    2. The social worker clarifies dates of future visits to the foster home and provides the foster home with written background information and emergency numbers when placing the child. Most regional offices have designated forms for providing information to foster parents. Specific information to be provided to the foster parents includes:
      1. Child's full name, birth date, and legal status.
      2. Last school of attendance and eligibility for special education and related services.
      3. Medical problems/history including name of doctor/ dentist and medical coverage.
      4. Name and address of parent/guardian.
      5. Reason for placement.
      6. Emergency procedures and any special instructions.
      7. The name and telephone number of the social worker and of the social worker's immediate supervisor.
  6. See section 45282 for procedures regarding federal funding.
  7. The social worker makes a contact with the foster home within three days following placement to see how the child is adjusting.
  8. The social worker and the licenser encourage foster parents to keep a record of the child's stay in their home, including any medical reports received by the foster parent, significant developmental milestones, behavior, schools attended, names of all medical providers and dates of visits, grades/report cards, friends, pets, and pictures of the child.
  9. Whenever possible or appropriate, the social worker must provide parents/guardians with information about the child's adjustment, health, and school progress while in foster care.
  10. After the initial contact following placement, the social worker must visit the foster home and have face-to-face contact in the foster home with the foster parents and child every calendar month not to exceed 40 days between visits. The social worker conducts these on-site interviews to ensure the health and safety of the child, to assess the child's adjustment to placement, to assess services needed by the child or foster parent, and to provide casework support to assist foster parents in caring for the child. The social worker must document the activities in the case SER. When there are problems with a placement, the social worker works with foster parents to find resources for resolving problems. For example, specialized training, consultation, or other support may be needed at particular times with particular placements.
  11. For children who are dependent under chapter 13.34 RCW, the social worker must notify the current caregiver of the date of scheduled court review hearings pertaining to the child. The social worker almost notify the caregiver of the caregiver's right to an opportunity to be heard in the review hearing and to provide the court with information. This right to notice of hearings and opportunity to be heard applies to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relatives who are caring for the child at the time of the hearing. This hearing notice does not give the caregiver legal status as a party to the case. The court will make the final decision about whether and how the caregiver will provide input at the hearing.
  12. When the child's social worker has a specific concern or complaint regarding a foster home, the worker conveys the concerns in writing to the foster care licenser for that home. When the complaint is an allegation of CA/N, the social worker shall make a CPS referral.
  13. When a child is to be removed from a foster home, the social worker shall send five-day written notice to the foster parent prior to the date of the child's move unless a court order or concern for the child's health and safety requires that the child be moved immediately.
  14. Procedures for contracted or other types of therapeutic foster care vary, depending on the contract or agreement with DCFS. The social worker consults their supervisor, the special placements coordinator, or home finder, and regional procedures for specific guidelines.