5100. Applying as a Foster Parent or Unlicensed Caregiver

Notice: Due to leadership decisions to create statewide consistency and to support the DCYF RESJ framework, recent court decisions, legislation, recent WAC changes, and the launch of the online application portal, etc., this policy is under current revision and may not reflect current practice. For specifics about these changes, please email DCYF Rules and Policies Unit for assistance.

Approval: Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 1974

Revised Date: July 1, 2018

Sunset Review: July 1, 2023


Applications for foster home licenses, adoption, relative care, and suitable other are submitted to local offices and processed by Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) staff, to assess competence and suitability of potential caregivers for children in out-of-home care.


This policy applies to all DLR licensing staff.


42 U.S.C. § 671  State plan for foster care and adoption assistance
RCW 49.60.030  Freedom from discrimination, declaration of civil rights
RCW 74.15  Care of children, expectant mothers, persons with developmental disabilities
RCW 74.13.250  Preservice training, foster parents
RCW 74.13.332 Rights of foster parents


  1. Children's Administration (CA) is prohibited from denying any person the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent, on the following basis: race, creed, color, national origin, gender, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal. 
  2. All applicants seeking to care for children in CA care and custody must have an approved family home study.
  3. All licensing applicants must complete required training as noted in 5180. Foster Parent Training.
  4. Relatives and suitable others seeking to be placement resources for children in foster care are not required to be licensed in order for the child to be placed with them, provided that they are appropriate and willing and able to meet the child’s needs. However, if the permanent plan is Relative Guardianship Assistance Program (RGAP) the relative is required to be foster care licensed.
  5. Applicants seeking only to be an adoptive placement are not required to be licensed.
  6. Applicants seeking a foster home license must meet the licensing regulations specified in WAC 388-148.
  7. Foster care maintenance payments can only be issued to licensed foster homes.
  8. All provider and case files (electronic and paper information) must be restricted for personnel and personnel’s household members if employed by: CA, Economic Services Administration (ESA), Department of Early Learning (DEL), or by DLR Administrator directive.
  9. DCYF employees seeking foster care licensing or adoptions follow DCYF Administrative 11.25 Child Care Licensing or Approval, Program Payments and Enrollment, Foster Care Licensing, Placement, and Adoption for DCYF Employees policy.


The DLR worker or designee must:

  1. Begin a home study when DLR receives an application and completed background checks for all household member(s) and those living on the premises age 16 and older. DLR may decline a home study application if a child is not placed in the home and DCFS is not seeking placement with the applicant or if there are identified safety concerns.
  2. Date-stamp applications and accompanying documents from prospective applicants and assign to a DLR worker.
  3. Create a provider, if needed, and enter the application into FamLink.
  4. Compile a six section folder with documents filed with the most current document on top of the section. (See CA intranet under DLR Programs, DLR Forms)
  5. Store large documents for regional licensing in an additional file, clearly labeled as to the contents.
  6. Restrict access to provider files when applicable. See #8 above.



DCYF Administrative 11.25 Child Care Licensing or Approval, Program Payments and Enrollment, Foster Care Licensing, Placement, and Adoption for DCYF Employees policy