Child Welfare

Temporary Actions in Response to COVID-19

All DCYF background check applicants who require fingerprints can be conditionally approved for the purpose of the background check if they pass an in-state name and date-of-birth background check. Fingerprints are still required and the DCYF background check team will track this work moving forward.

Removes crimes that do not relate directly to child safety, permanence or well-being while considering disproportionate impacts on individuals with criminal history.

Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions

DCYF background check staff will use previous fingerprint results, when available, for new background checks requiring fingerprints, and complete new in-state background check for any new criminal or negative action history.

DCYF caseworkers, contracts managers, foster care licensors and home study specialists will not perform secondary assessments when an individual with criminal or negative action history passed the background check.

DCYF staff will use previously completed administrative reviews for new background checks that do not reveal new crimes or negative actions.

Emergent placement decisions occur within an hour of completing a federal name-based background check with applicants completing an in-state name and date-of-birth and fingerprints within 15 days. Current practice requires removal of children if either of these subsequent background checks reveal a crime that may relate directly to child safety. Integrating the review process prior to removal may allow placement to continue depending on the crime and availability of information at time of this initial review.

General Questions

Individuals will still complete background check applications. The DCYF background check team will complete in-state background checks, determine if the individual is conditionally approved for the purpose of the background check and notify the individual and requesting staff if approved. Applicants will continue to receive the fingerprint appointment forms and they will need to submit fingerprints when it is safe and resources are available.

DCYF caseworkers and contracts managers will no longer request criminal history from applicants who passed the background check and accept the background check decision as final. Other program vetting requirements will remain in place, except as noted above.

DCYF background check management staff will review the new background information with the goal of continuing placement if the information most likely does not relate directly to child safety. These decisions will consider the amount of time passed since conviction, seriousness of the crime and purpose of the background check.

Child Welfare Visitation

General Guidance (as of Aug. 5, 2021)

  • The COVID screening phone calls to the parents or caregivers the day before and day of the visit will shift to a phone call the day before the visit. Informing caregivers, parents, and others participating in the visit about DOH and CDC recommendations for face coverings will help with expectations for the visit.
  • If the caseworker wishes to approve other family members to attend the visitation, they are welcome to do so. The caseworker will need to provide contact information to the family member(s), so they can participate in the screening calls (the day before). 
  • For Family Time: If there is an affirmative response to any screening questions, a virtual/electronic visit can be provided. If the attending family member(s) provides an affirmative response to the screening questions, they are welcome to attend the in-person visit virtually or by an electronic device.
  • For CIHS: If there is an affirmative response to the screening questions, sessions will need to be canceled, and the assigned Social Service Specialist notified.  Services may need to be suspended until in-person can occur again if affirmative responses persist for two consecutive weeks. 
  • CIHS providers can attend FT visits to provide parent/child observation and hands-on coaching with approval from the DCYF Social Service Specialist. 
  • Gifts and other items given to children at the visit will not be quarantined or sanitized. The children can return to their placement resource with those gifts. Caregivers and visit providers need to contact the caseworker for questions about gifts returning home with the child or youth.

Mask Guidance (as of Aug. 5, 2021)

  • Masks or social distancing is NOT required for outdoor visits.
  • Mask are still required when transporting children. (This only applies to family time providers and caseworkers.)
  • Masks are still required for indoor visits.


Current Guidance

COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance for Children and Youth in Care

Combined In-Home Service Providers Guidance Document - Sep. 3, 2021

Family Time – Supportive Virtual Family Time Program and Training (eLearning)

Supportive Remote Visitation for Children in Foster Care Video

Allowable Child Care for Children in Out-of- Home Placement During COVID-19

Accessing Child Care for Children in Out-of- Home Placement During COVID-19

Continue to Report Child Abuse and Neglect - April 16, 2020

Child Abuse Prevention Month Mandatory Reporter Graphic 

COVID-19 Update - Behavior Rehabilitation Services (11/23/2020)

COVID-19 Update - Emergency Placement Services (11/23/2020)

Archived Documents

For copies of previously published guidance, visit the Washington State Publications Library or email

Family Time and Sibling and Relative Visits Interim Policy Memo

Family Time Visitation Webinar Q&A

Family Time & Combined In-Home Provider Q&A

Family Time FAQs

Child Placing Agency Webinar Q&A

COVID-19 Update - Combined In-Home Services (11/23/2020)

Group Home Recruitment Webinar Q&A

Sign Up to be a Temporary Residential Youth Worker

Foster Care Group Home Providers COVID-19 Guidance

Behavior Rehabilitation Services COVID-19 Guidance Webinar