45274. Placements with Unlicensed Relatives or Suitable Persons

Original Date: April 15, 2008

Revised Date: October 20, 2022

Sunset Review Date: October 31, 2026

Approved by:  Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff

Policy Update Memo Effective October 1, 2023


In order to support and preserve connections to family relationships, children should be placed in the safest setting that best meets their needs. Children are best cared for by a person they have a relationship with, when the caregiver is assessed as safe and suitable. An unlicensed caregiver is a relative or suitable person as described in RCW 74.15.020(2)(a) or 13.34.130(1)(b).


This policy applies to DCFS employees.


RCW 13.34.060 Shelter care-Placement-Custody-Duties of Parties

RCW 13.34.065 Shelter care-Notice of Custody and Rights

RCW 13.34.130 Order of Disposition for a Dependent Child

RCW 26.44.240 Out-of-home care-Emergency Placement-Criminal History Record Check

RCW 74.15.020 Definitions

PL 110-351 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008


  1. Before a child is placed with an unlicensed caregiver:
    1. All persons living in the home will be identified.
    2. The home and property will be assessed for safety concerns.
    3. The decision to place the child with an unlicensed caregiver will be based on the results of the character, competence and suitability assessment per Background Checks policy.
    4. The unlicensed caregivers will have an approved home study for the child being placed.
  2. A child may be placed with an unlicensed caregiver prior to the completion of a home study under the following circumstances:
    1. An emergent placement refers to those limited instances when the department is placing a child in the home of unlicensed individuals, including neighbors, friends or relatives, as a result of:
      1. The sudden unavailability of the child’s primary caregiver  (i.e. biological parents, legal guardians, licensed or unlicensed caregiver);
      2. A disrupted placement with a licensed or unlicensed caregiver.
    2. An unlicensed caregiver has been identified for a child in placement, has passed the required background check and the Area Administrator (AA) approved the placement with the unlicensed caregiver pending the outcome of the home study.
  3. The caseworker will provide the unlicensed caregiver with the appropriate forms needed to request a home study. Once the documents have been completed, the caseworker will submit the required documents to Licensing Division (LD) within 30 days of the placement.
  4. When a child is placed in out-of-home care with an unlicensed caregiver, follow Kinship Care: Searching for, Placing with, and Supporting Relatives and Suitable Other Persons policy.
  5. Caseworkers must follow DCYF Administrative 6.04 Supporting LGBTQIA+ Individuals policy and assist caregivers in accessing LGBTQIA+ supports and resources
  6. The child must be moved from the placement if the unlicensed caregiver’s home study is not approved for that child.
  7. Unlicensed caregivers will be made aware of the financial supports available to him or her when a child is placed in the home.


Caseworker must:

  1. Before placing a child in an unlicensed caregiver’s home:
    1. Conduct a walkthrough of the unlicensed caregiver’s home and property using the Household Safety Inspection for Unlicensed Placement and Adoptions Home Study Updates form DCYF 10-453 form. For courtesy supervision cases, follow requirements in Courtesy Supervision policy.
    2. Complete the assessment of character, competence, and suitability to determine if the caregiver is a suitable placement per the Background Checks policy. This includes obtaining results of the background check for all household members aged 16 and older. 
    3. Review the content in the completed home study in FamLink under the Provider icon to verify the caregiver has an approved home study for the child being placed.
    4. Obtain AA’s approval on the Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210 form when required per policy section 2.b. above.
  2. In those limited instances where the unlicensed caregiver is being referred for a home study after the placement occurs, the caseworker must submit the following information to LD within 30 days of placement:
    1. Family Home Study Application DCYF 10-354 form completed by the caregiver.
    2. Background check summary for all household members age 16 years and older indicating all members passed the required background check.
  3. When discussing the financial support options available to the unlicensed caregiver include the following:
    1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits through Community Services Office (CSO)
    2. Relative Support Services Funds (RSSF)
    3. Licensed foster care
    4. Clothing allowance
  4. Discuss the caregiver’s requirement to comply with the case plan and court orders, including but not limited to family time, sibling visits, and any other conditions ordered by the court. Non-compliance with the case plan or court order is grounds for removal of the child from the caregiver, subject to review by the court.
  5. Document the following in FamLink:
    1. Completion of the walkthrough of the home and property including any safety concerns identified.
    2. Results of the background check for all household members age 16 and older on the Background Check tab in the Person Management page.



Administrative Approval Request DCYF 05-210

Family Home Study Application DCYF 10-354

Household Safety Inspection for Unlicensed Placement and Adoptions Home Study Updates DCYF 10-453



Background checks policy

Completing the Home Study policy

DCYF Administrative 6.04 Supporting LGBTQIA+ Individuals policy