6605. Records Management

Original Date:      February 15, 1998

Revised Date:      January 28, 2020     

Sunset Review Date: January 31, 2024   

Approved by: Edith Hitchings, Interim Assistant Secretary of Operations


To provide guidance on creating, organizing, and securing client and provider records, and to increase the use of electronic records. This includes records created, obtained, used, sent, or produced while conducting the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) business. 


This policy applies to the DCYF Child Welfare (CW) and Licensing Division (LD) employees. 


RCW 26.33.330 Records sealed-Inspection-Fee

Chapter 40.14 RCW Preservation and Destruction of Public Records

Chapter 40.16 RCW Penal Provisions

RCW 42.56  Public Records Act


  1. DCYF records, regardless of format or location, are public records and subject to discovery, disclosure, and established retention schedules.
  2. Employees must:
    1. Safeguard confidential client and provider information from inappropriate use and disclosure.
    2. Maintain security and confidentiality of client or provider information when moving hard-file records to an alternative DCYF office.
  3. Accessing or Disclosing Electronic or Hard-File Records
    Employees must:
    1. Access records for business purposes only.
    2. Only disclose records for purposes allowed by federal or state law.
  4. Creating, Organizing, and Storing Hard-File and Electronic Records
    Employees must:
    1. Store client and provider electronic information in FamLink. Employees may only store records temporarily in DCYF share folders, personal folders, or desktops when there is a business need.
    2. Create hard-files in the office responsible for case management, with the exception of Family Assessment Response cases when there is less than 15 pages of records.
    3. Create provider hard-files for all foster care licensing and home study applications received by LD.
    4. Keep hard-file records secured with the assigned caseworker, LD worker, or in designated file storage areas. 
    5. Store and maintain all hard-file records at DCYF offices, this includes employees that telework, unless:
      1. Hard-files are needed for a court proceeding and will remain with the worker.
      2. Supervisor approval is obtained.
    6. Report any duplicate identification numbers for the same person, case, or provider to the service desk for possible corrections.
    7. Print FamLink generated records only when there is a specific business need. For example, but not limited to, records:
      1. Needed for an investigation.
      2. Required for case reviews or other auditing purposes.
    8. Only store state business related records to the DCYF network.
  5. Restricted Electronic Records
    1. DCYF must make electronic records “restricted” when they involve any of the following:
      1. DCYF employees, their household members, and other relatives or individuals identified by the DCYF employee.
      2. Adoption support cases.
      3. High profile cases and providers.
      4. Cases and providers in litigation.
      5. Other circumstances approved by supervisors.
    2. DCYF may allow access to restricted records to employees who:
      1. Have an active assignment to the case or provider.
      2. Have a “need to know” in order to perform their required work responsibilities.
  6. Sealed Adoption Records
    DCYF must seal a case record after the child’s adoption is finalized and the dismissal order is received per RCW 26.33.330.
  7. Imaging Records
    1. May access imaged records through FamLink File Upload when there is a business need.
    2. Must send closed hard-files for imaging or retention to the DCYF Records Imaging Unit (RIU) at Mail Stop 40982 or PO Box 40982, Olympia, WA 98504 within 90 calendar days of the closure, including but not limited to:
      1. Child and Family Welfare Service (CFWS) cases.
      2. Child Protective Services (CPS) cases, CFWS.
      3. Family Preservation Services (FPS).
      4. Interstate Compact and Placement of Children (ICPC) cases.
      5. LD/CPS cases.
      6. Providers.
      7. Title IV-E files.


  1. Constructing and Managing Child Welfare Case Hard-File Records
    Employees must:
    1. Create hard-file cases, when needed, using case binders and official case binder tabs. These binders are known as volumes.
    2. Use the case binder tabs to organize records by type and date order.
    3. Create new volumes as needed.
    4. Number the volumes in chronological order.
    5. Retain no more than the two most recent volumes for open cases in local offices.
    6. Send all other volumes to the RIU.
  2. Constructing and Managing LD Provider Hard-File Records
    LD workers must:
    1. Create a hard-file using a six section folder.
    2. File records in the folder in the order found on the Provider File Cover Sheets or the Agency File Cover Sheets with the most current information on top of each section.
    3. Create new volumes as needed.
    4. Number the volumes in chronological order.
    5. Retain no more than the two most recent volumes for open providers in local offices.
    6. Send all other volumes to the RIU.
  3. Constructing and Managing LD/CPS Case Hard-File Records
    LD/CPS Investigators must:
    1. Create the hard-file case record for each intake using a file folder.
    2. File records in the folder with the most current information on top.
    3. Insert new records into the current file folder.
    4. Create and number new folders in chronological order as needed.
    5. Retain the open investigations records in the local office.  
    6. Send closed cases to the RIU.
  4. Managing and Storing Hard-File and Electronic Records
    1. Employees must:
      1. Review case and provider records at the time of assignment for duplicate person identification numbers.
      2. Update the file location tab in FamLink when a hard-file is:
        1. Created for a new case or provider or when an additional volume is needed.
        2. Being sent to the RIU.
        3. Placed on ligation hold.
      3. Enter or upload case or provider records directly into FamLink or place in the hard-file per the Documentation policy. 
      4. Follow the Electronic Communication policy for text and email record storage.
      5. Delete electronic records not subject to a litigation hold from F-drives, share drives, or desktops once the records are entered in or uploaded to FamLink.
    2. If records are stored outside of FamLink temporarily, employees must:
      1. Contact the Information Technology service desk to restrict the share folder.
      2. Delete records from the share drive after the records have been saved to FamLink.
  5. Accessing Restricted Electronic Records
    When area administrators or supervisors are allowing access to restricted providers they must:
    1. Assign restricted cases and providers to employees that have a “need to know” to complete their work duties.
    2. Document in the Case or Provider Restriction Information Comments Section in FamLink the reason for restricting the case or provider and if the reason is related to:
      1. A specific employee, including their name.
      2. Litigation, including the name of the claim or lawsuit.
  6. Accessing Sealed Adoption Records
    When information is requested from a sealed adoption file, employees:
    1. May request limited access from the Headquarters Adoption Program Manager.
    2. Must be send Non-DCYF employees’ requests to the Public Disclosure Unit.
  7. Litigation Holds on Records
    Employees must:
    1. Preserve physical and electronic records when they have been notified of a litigation hold per DCYF Administrative 13.02 Management of the Litigation Discovery Process policy.
    2. Respond by email within two business days of receiving the tort request email from risk management.
  8. Closed Case or Provider Records
    When a new record is received for a case or provider that has been closed and sent to RIU, employees must complete one of the following within 14 calendar days:
    1. Upload records to FamLink.  
    2. Send records to the RIU that are too large or in formats that cannot be uploaded to FamLink


Agency File Cover Sheets (located on the DCYF CA intranet, under LD Programs, under LD Resources)

DCYF Administrative 13.06 Establishing DCYF Records Management Retention policy

Provider File Cover Sheets (located on the DCYF CA intranet, under LD Programs, under LD Resources)

Records Management Advice

Records Management 101: The Basics and Why it Matters

State Agencies Record Retention Schedules - DCYF