6500. Photograph Documentation

Approval:   Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date:      September 16, 1995

Revised Date:      April 27, 2017

Policy Review:     April 30, 2022


To ensure effective documentation of a child’s physical condition or surroundings when responding to allegations of child abuse or neglect (CA/N) or when a child is in the care and custody of Children’s Administration (CA).


This policy applies to CA staff.


RCW 13.50.010  Definitions - Conditions when filing petition or information - Duties to maintain accurate records and access—Confidential  child welfare records.

RCW 26.44.050  Abuse or neglect of child - Duty of law enforcement agency or department of social and health services - Taking child into custody without court order, when.

RCW 71A.10.020   Developmental Disabilities - Definitions

RCW 74.13.283  Washington State Identicards - Foster youth.


  1. CA staff may take photographs for evidentiary and case management purposes only. Not all cases will require photographic documentation.
  2. When taking photographs, only use a state issued device with standard settings, and do not alter, enhance or filter the photographs in any way.
  3. CA staff must follow the County Child Abuse, Fatality and Criminal Neglect Investigation Protocol, located on the CA Intranet, prior to taking any photographs when documenting a child’s physical condition related to CA/N.  Protocols may authorize photographs of the child by law enforcement, a child advocacy center, another agency or forensic interviewer.
  4. When the case does not meet the County Child Abuse, Fatality and Criminal Neglect Investigation Protocol, complete the following to document a child’s physical condition related CA/N:
    1. Prior to taking any photographs, request parent or caregiver permission in a Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) child protective services (CPS) investigation case if the parent is present and has care and custody of the child.
    2. Prior to taking any photographs, request permission from the child who has the capacity to understand what giving permission means.
    3. Obtain parental permission if photographs are needed in a Family Assessment Response (FAR) case.
    4. Document the caseworker’s request to photograph a child and the child or parent’s answer in FamLink.
    5. Photograph the child when the alleged subject is not present whenever possible.
    6. Take one full-length photograph of the child that includes his or her face.
    7. Photograph the injury that show the shape, size and location of the injury. Include photographs taken from a distance and close-up with a standard measurement (such as a ruler) to demonstrate size.
    8. If an alleged injury is located under clothing, caseworkers may ask a child to remove outerwear, roll-up sleeves, or pant legs, lift up shirt to expose back or lower torso. Removal of clothing will be based on the child’s age and development.
    9. Photographing a child may not be possible or appropriate due to, but not limited to, the following:
      1. The child is unable to communicate verbally due to a developmental disability as defined in RCW 71A.10.020.
      2. The child demonstrates emotional distress or discomfort about being photographed.
      3. The parent or child does not give permission.
      4. When a photograph of a child cannot be taken:
        1. The caseworker must ask the parent and child, if present, for permission to observe the injury.
        2. If the observation is permitted, document the following information on the Child’s Physical Description form DCYF 15-359 or in a case note and staff with supervisor:
          1. Child’s name and date of birth
          2. Case number
          3. Location, date, and time of contact with the child.
          4. Caseworker name, office and phone number
          5. Name of any other adult present for the face-to-face with the child.
          6. When applicable, facility name, type of license and address
          7. Description of the child’s physical condition that may include injuries (location, shape, size, color)
          8. When applicable, the name, date, and contact information of any other professionals who viewed the injury.
        3. If observation of the injury is not permitted:
          1. Assess if present danger exists during contact with the child;
          2. If present danger does not exist, request the parent take the child to his or her primary care physician or urgent care provider.
        4. If the parent will not or does not access medical care for the child:
          1. Staff with your supervisor; and
          2. Notify law enforcement.
  5. When taking photographs of the child’s surroundings, the DCFS/CPS caseworker and DLR/CPS investigator must:
    1. Request permission from the parent or caregiver.
    2. Photograph the room or area at a distance to identify place and overall condition.
    3. Take photographs of health and safety hazards that are outside of the house and the hazards are in public view.
    4. Take close-up photographs of items that present health and safety risks.
    5. Take photographs with and without an item of standard measurement to demonstrate size.
    6. Take photographs to demonstrate progress when identified health and safety risks have been eliminated.
    7. Document the following in a case note:
      1. Caseworker’s request for permission and the caregiver’s response in FamLink.
      2. When a photograph of a child’s surroundings cannot be taken or permission from the caregiver is not given:
        1. Name of any other individuals who were present at the time of the observations.
        2. Description of the environment as it relates to the child’s health and safety.
  6. DLR workers must document conditions of a home or facility as necessary by doing the following:
    1. Obtain caregiver permission to photograph items inside and the condition of the home or facility.
    2. Photograph the room or area at a distance to identify place and overall condition.
    3. Take close-up photographs of items that present any health and safety risks.
    4. Take photographs to demonstrate progress when identified health and safety risks have been eliminated.
    5. Document the worker’s request and caregiver’s response in FamLink.
  7. The CA caseworker must:
    1. Photograph and document a child’s height and weight within five business days of placement in out-of-home care per 2421. Emergency Planning for Children in Out-of-Home Care policy.
    2. Photograph and update the height and weight information of the child:
      1. When there are significant changes in the child, e.g. change in appearance, major weight loss or gain, etc.
      2. Every six months for a child younger than six years.
      3. Annually for a child age six years and older
    3. Follow 43103. Washington State Identicard, Instruction Permit and Personal Driver License for Foster Youth policy when photographing a youth to obtain a state issued photo identification card prior to his or her 18th birthday
    4. Include a clear photograph of the child when referring to the WA Access through Northwest Adoptions Exchange (NWAE), per the Identifying Adoptive Families policy.
  8. CA staff must upload every photograph taken of the child or child’s surroundings, except those taken for Identicard purposes, into File Upload in FamLink in their unaltered state within seven calendar days. This includes photographs that are not clear or taken in error. CA staff must not delete photographs from the device until uploaded into FamLink. Uploaded photographs must include the following information:
    1. Date and time of the photograph.
    2. Location where the photograph was taken.
    3. A brief description of what is in the photograph.
    4. First and last name of the photographer.
    5. Title, workplace and contact information of the photographer.
  9. CA staff must assess for present danger and report to intake when any child which there is an open case is believed to be at imminent risk of serious harm or there is a new allegation of child abuse or neglect.
  10. CA staff must upload every photograph received from any individual or entity, such as law enforcement or providers, into FamLink. Maintain all hard copies of photographs in the hard-copy file. Document the following in a case note when a photograph is received:
    1. Date the photograph was received.
    2. Name of the person who provided the photograph.
    3. Name and contact information of the person who took the photograph, if available.
    4. Description of what the photograph depicts
    5. Any additional information specific to the pictures.



  • CPS Guide
  • FamLink File Upload Quick Help Guide (CA Intranet)
  • Storing Multiple Images in FamLink (CA Intranet)
  • Digital Photo Quick Help (CA Intranet)
  • How to Attach an Image to a Case Image Upload  (CA Intranet)
  • Identifying Adoptive Families policy
  • Ten-4 Bruising Rule