Appendix A: Definitions

The following definitions apply for purposes of the CA Practices and Procedures Guide.

ABANDON” means when a child's or youth’s parent, guardian, or other custodian has expressed, either by statement or conduct, an intent to forego, for an extended period, parental rights or responsibilities despite an ability to exercise such rights and responsibilities. If the court finds that the petitioner has exercised due diligence in attempting to locate the parent, no contact between the child or youth and their parent, guardian, or other custodian for a period of three months creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment, even if there is no expressed intent to abandon per RCW 74.14A.020 and RCW 13.34.030.

ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (AIDS)” means a disease to the immune system due to an infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV destroys the CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) of the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. To be diagnosed with AIDS, a person with HIV must have an AIDS-defining condition or have a CD4 count less than 200 cells/mm3, regardless of whether the person has an AIDS-defining condition.

ADMINISTRATIVE INCIDENTS" are serious and emergent incidents involving CA clients, staff and providers.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW” means a review open to the participation of the parents of the child or youth, conducted by a panel of appropriate persons at least one of whom is not responsible for the case management of, or the delivery of services to, either the child or youth or the parents who are the subject of the review, per 42 USC 675, Sec. 475.

ADOPTION SUPPORT AGREEMENT” means a written contract between the adoptive parent(s) and the department that identifies the specific support available to the adoptive parent(s) and other terms and conditions of the agreement.

"AFTERCARE SERVICES” means the provision of less intensive, ongoing services to youth and their families following the youth’s discharge from residential care or in-home services.

AGE OR DEVELOPMENTALLY-APPROPRIATE” means activities or items that are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same chronological age or level of maturity or that are determined to be developmentally-appropriate for a child, based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for an age or age group; and  in the case of a specific child, activities or items that are suitable for the child based on the developmental stages attained by the child with respect to the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of the child.

“AGGRAVATED CIRCUMSTANCES” means DCYF is no longer required to provide reasonable efforts to reunify the family, if at least one of the following criteria in RCW 13.34.132 are met.

ALLEGED GENETIC PARENT” means an individual who is alleged to be, or alleges that the individual is, a genetic parent or possible genetic parent of a child or youth. An alleged genetic parent does not include a presumed parent under chapter 26.26A RCW, an individual whose parental rights have been terminated or declared not to exist, or a donor of gametes or embryos. RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 26.33.020; RCW 26.26A.010.

"AT-RISK YOUTH" means a juvenile who:

  1. Is absent from home for at least 72 consecutive hours without consent of his or her parent.
  2. Is beyond the control of his or her parent such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person.
  3. Has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to the substance abuse.

RCW 13.32A.030

BEHAVIORAL REHABILITATION SERVICES (BRS)” are temporary intensive wraparound supports and treatment program for youth with extreme, high level service needs used to safely stabilize youth and assist in achieving a permanent plan or less intensive services.  These services can be provided in an array of settings and are intended to safely:

  • Keep youth in their own homes with wraparound supports to the family.
  • Reunify or achieve alternative permanency more quickly.
  • Increase family based care by using a wraparound approach.
  • Reduce length of service by transitioning to a permanent resource or less intensive service.

BLOODBORNE PATHOGENS (BBP)” are diseases and bacteria that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, the hepatitis B or C virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

BORROWED FOSTER HOME” is reimbursement made for the use of the foster home only through a CPA contract and the case management responsibilities remain with DCYF. Borrowed foster home services will be authorized for a maximum of six month increments.

"Caregiver" means an adult living in the home permanently or semi-permanently and has routine responsibility for childcare. This may be the other legally responsible adult, another adult relative or a live-in partner. It may also be any other adult with regular ongoing time in the home and has routine responsibility for childcare.

"CASE PLAN" means a written statement by the social worker of the anticipated activities, including service agreements, which are planned in the conduct of the case.

CERTIFICATION FOR ADOPTION” means a person or persons constituting a household have submitted an application for adoption to the department or a child placing agency, have had a satisfactory home study completed, and have been determined suitable as adoptive parent or parents.

"CHILD," "JUVENILE," and "YOUTH" mean any unemancipated individual who is under the chronological age of 18 years. RCW 13.32A.030


CPS WAC Definitions of CA/N

Child abuse or neglect means the injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed. An abused child is a child who has been subjected to child abuse or neglect as defined in this section.

  1. Physical abuse means the non-accidental infliction of physical injury or physical mistreatment on a child. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, such actions as:
    1. Throwing, kicking, burning, or cutting a child;
    2. Striking a child with a closed fist;
    3. Shaking a child under age three;
    4. Interfering with a child's breathing;
    5. Threatening a child with a deadly weapon;
    6. Doing any other act that is likely to cause and which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks or which is injurious to the child's health, welfare and safety.
  2. Physical discipline of a child, including the reasonable use of corporal punishment, is not considered abuse when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent or guardian for the purposes of restraining or correcting the child.
    1. The age, size, and condition of the child, and the location of any inflicted injury shall be considered in determining whether the bodily harm is reasonable or moderate.
    2. Other factors may include the developmental level of the child and the nature of the child's misconduct.
    3. A parent's belief that it is necessary to punish a child does not justify or permit the use of excessive, immoderate or unreasonable force against the child.
  3. Sexual abuse means committing or allowing to be committed any sexual offense against a child as defined in the criminal code.
    1. The intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the sexual or other intimate parts of a child or allowing, permitting, compelling, encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing a child to engage in touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of the person touching the child, the child, or a third party.
    2. A parent or guardian of a child, a person authorized by the parent or guardian to provide childcare for the child, or a person providing medically recognized services for the child, may touch a child in the sexual or other intimate parts for the purposes of providing hygiene, child care, and medical treatment or diagnosis.
  4. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, sex trafficking and commercial exploitation as those term are defined by law. Sexual exploitation also includes, but is not limited to, such actions as allowing, compelling, encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing a child to participate in one or more of the following:
    1. Any sex act when anything of value is given to or received by any person for the sex act;
    2. Sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic activity to be photographed, filmed, or electronically reproduced or transmitted;
    3. Sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic activity as part of a live performance, or for the benefit or sexual gratification of another person.
  5. Negligent treatment or maltreatment means an act or a failure to act, or the cumulative effects of a pattern of conduct, behavior, or inaction, on the part of a child's parent, legal custodian, guardian, or caregiver that shows a serious disregard of the consequences to the child and creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety. 
    1. When considering whether a clear and present danger exists, evidence of a parent's substance abuse as a contributing factor must be given great weight.
    2. The fact that the siblings share a bedroom is not, in and of itself, negligent treatment or maltreatment.
    3. Poverty, homelessness, or exposure to domestic violence perpetuated against someone other than the child does not, in and of itself, constitute negligent treatment or maltreatment.
    4. A child does not have to suffer actual damage or physical or emotional harm to be in circumstances that create a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety.
    5. Negligent treatment or maltreatment may include, but is not limited to one or more of the following:
      1. Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, or health care necessary for a child's health, welfare, or safety, such that the failure shows a serious disregard of the consequence to the child and creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety;​
      2. Actions, failures to act, or omissions that result in injury or risk of injury to the physical, emotional, and/or cognitive development of a child, such that it shows a serious disregard of the consequences to the child and creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety;
      3. The cumulative effects of a pattern of conduct, behavior, or inaction by a parent or guardian in providing for the physical, emotional or developmental needs of the child, such that it shows a serious disregard of the consequences to the child and creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety;
      4. The effects of chronic failure on the part of a parent or guardian to perform basic parental functions, obligations, or duties that causes injury or substantial risk of injury to the physical, emotional, or cognitive development of the child, such that it shows a serious disregard of the consequences to the child and creates a clear and present danger to the child's health, welfare, or safety. ​
  6. A Parent or guardian abandons a child when the parent or guardian is responsible for the care, education, or support of a child and:
    1. Deserts the child in any manner whatever with the intent to abandon the child;
    2. Leaves a child without the means or ability to obtain one or more of the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and medically necessary health care; or
    3. Forgoes for an extended period of time parental rights, functions, duties and obligations despite an ability to exercise such rights, duties, and obligations.
  7. Abandonment of a child by a parent may be established by conduct on the part of a parent or guardian that demonstrates a substantial lack of regard for the rights, duties, and obligations of the parent or guardian or for the health, welfare, and safety of the child. Criminal activity or incarceration of a parent or guardian does not constitute abandonment in and of themselves, but a pattern of criminal activity or repeated or long term incarceration may constitute abandonment of a child.

"CHILD ACTION PLAN" means the services and tasks that are provided to the child and placement provider as necessary to support the placement and meet the needs of the child while in out-of-home care. The Child Action Plan includes objectives and tasks pertaining to the following:

  • Educational needs
  • Medical needs
  • Social needs
  • Psychological needs
  • Cultural needs
  • Independent living needs

“CHILD AND FAMILY TEAM (CFT)” means a group of people established by the family and WISe agency that consists of family members and other people connected to them through natural, community, and formal support relationships. The CFT develops and implements the family’s plan, addresses unmet needs, works toward the child, youth or family’s vision and team mission, and monitors progress regularly to revise and refine the plan of care.

"CHILD IN NEED OF SERVICES (CHINS)" means a juvenile who:

  1. Is beyond the control of his or her parent such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person.
  2. Has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least 24 consecutive hours from the parent's home, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement on two or more separate occasions and has exhibited:
    1. A serious substance abuse problem or
    2. Behaviors that create a serious risk of harm to the health, safety, and welfare of the child or any other person.
  3. Is in need of necessary services, including food, shelter, health care, clothing, educational, or services designed to maintain or reunite the family, and
    1. Who lacks access, or has declined, to utilize these services.
    2. Whose parents have evidenced continuing but unsuccessful efforts to maintain the family structure or are unable or unwilling to continue efforts to maintain the family structure

"CHILD IN NEED OF SERVICES (CHINS) PETITION" means a petition filed in juvenile court by a parent, child, or the department seeking adjudication of placement of the child. RCW 13.32A.030

CHILD PLACING AGENCIES (CPAs)” are agencies which place children or youth for temporary, continued care, or adoption licensed by DCYF chapter 74.15 RCW and WAC 110-147.

CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES (CPS)” means those services provided by DCYF designed to protect children and youth from child abuse and neglect, as defined in RCW 26.44.020, and safeguard such children and youth from future abuse and neglect, and conduct investigations of child abuse and neglect reports. Investigations may be conducted regardless of the location of the alleged abuse or neglect. Child Protective Services includes referral to services to ameliorate conditions that endanger the welfare of children and youth, the coordination of necessary programs and services relevant to the prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and services to children and youth to ensure that each child and youth has a permanent home. In determining whether protective services should be provided, DCYF must not decline to provide such services solely because of the child's or youth’s unwillingness or developmental inability to describe the nature and severity of the abuse or neglect.

CLIENT" means, for the purposes of defining a child client is a child (or youth up to age 21) in the care, custody, and/or supervision of the Children's Administration and/or the Department of Social and Health Services as it relates to services CA provides.

"COMMERCIALLY SEXUALLY EXPLOITED CHILD" (see also SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM) means a child who has not attained 18 years of age who is induced to perform any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

"COMMUNITY NETWORK" means working relationships between DCFS, cultural consultants, key informants (lay/professional person), natural helpers (extended families, folk healers), and other agencies to develop cultural responsiveness.

"COMPELLING REASON” means, for purposes of the Adoption and Safe Families Act and RCW, a factor in case planning that presents an unusual circumstance that makes necessary a decision which would not normally be made for a child or family. “Compelling Reason” includes, but is not necessary limited to:

  1. Circumstances in which a child:
    1. Is over age 14 and is opposed, following a discussion with the caseworker of the alternatives, to adoption as a permanent plan;
    2. Has significant ties to the child’s family which are positive and expected to be on-going and would be disrupted by termination of parental rights;
    3. Is in placement for reasons other than abuse, neglect, abandonment, or no parent able or willing to care for the child (e, g., children in care due to the risk they pose to others, due to behavioral management issues, etc.);
    4. Does not have a permanent placement resource identified and for whom there is significant risk that an adoptive resource will not be found; or
    5. Has other unique situations described in the court report by the caseworker that constitute compelling reasons not to file a petition to terminate parental rights.
  2. The supervising agency is required to recruit, identify, and process a permanency placement resource for a child when a permanent plan other than reunification is identified for the child. In unusual circumstances, it may be appropriate to leave a child in a temporary placement setting until the court decision-making process is completed or in order to meet the treatment needs of the child.
  3. The court or CA has determined that:
    1. A birth parent is considering relinquishment within a reasonable time to free the child for adoption.
    2. A non-offending parent is pursuing an alternate permanent plan.
    3. A professional assessment of the child has determined the child is unable to remain within a family setting.
  4. The parent is incarcerated and:
    1. The incarceration is the only reason for filing the TPR; and
    2. The court has determined the parent maintains a meaningful role in the child’s life.
  5. The child’s Tribe is opposed to adoption and has identified another acceptable permanency plan for the child per RCW 13.38.150.

"COMPLIANCE AGREEMENT" means a written plan approved by DSHS which identifies deficiencies in Contractor’s performance, describes the steps a contractor must take to correct the deficiencies, and sets forth timeframes the contractor must meet in order to return to  compliance within the terms of the contract.

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION” is information that is protected by state or federal laws, including information about DCYF clients, employees, volunteers, interns, work study students, vendors, or contractors that is not available to the public without legal authority. This includes client records. Information is categorized into the following four areas:

  • Category 1: Is public information that can be released to the public. It does not need protection from unauthorized disclosure, but does need protection from unauthorized changes that may mislead the public.
  • Category 2: Is sensitive information that is not specifically protected by law, but is limited to official use only, and protected against unauthorized access. This data is available through public disclosure requests.
  • Category 3: Is confidential information that is specifically protected by law and not available through public disclosure requests. It includes:
  • Category 4: Is confidential information that requires special handling, including, but not limited to:
    •  Protected Health Information (PHI), per DCYF Administrative13.04 Protecting Privacy and Confidential Information policy.
    • Information that identifies a person as being or ever having been a client of an alcohol or substance abuse treatment, or mental health program.
    • Federal wage data.
    • Location of an abused spouse.
    • Data that would compromise the agency’s constituents.

"CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT" is the complete process of identifying, describing and analyzing strengths and problems and then testing, implementing, learning from and revising solutions; the ongoing process by which the agency makes decisions and evaluates it's progress.

CONTINUUM OF CARE” means provision of care from in-home services to highly structured residential care and the ability to provide appropriate services to the child/family.

CONTRACTS” are legally binding written agreements between DCYF and other entities, public or private, for the provision of goods or services or for purposes of data sharing. Terms such as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) may also be used to refer to contracts.

"CONTRACT FORMAT" means an electronic or hard copy contract template developed or approved by Central Contracts Legal Service. A contract format includes but is not limited to: data elements, general terms and conditions, and special terms and conditions. All approved contract formats are available in the Agency Contract Database for use by authorized staff.

"CONTRACT RESOURCES" means the Regional and Statewide Contract Directories on the Intranet/Internet, as well as the Regional Contract/Program Managers.

"CONTRACTED AND/OR LICENSED PROVIDER":The individuals or entity performing services pursuant to contracting with Children's Administration.

"CRITICAL INCIDENT" is an event that requires an immediate and thorough response, notification, information gathering and communication.  All critical incidents are reported through the Administrative Incident Reporting System (AIRS) and in some high profile situations may require an initial phone call alert to headquarters staff. Critical incidents include:

  • Fatality or near fatality of a child with an open case.
  • Fatality or near fatality of a child which services were provided to the family within 12 months preceding the child's death or near fatality, including information only referrals.
  • High profile event receiving media coverage and involves an individual or family for whom we have provided services.

"CULTURAL COMPETENCE" means a set of behaviors and attitudes that enables individuals working with a child or family to learn about or recognize the cultural context of a situation and to integrate that knowledge into an action.

"CULTURAL CONSULTANTS" means culturally competent individuals recognized by the department and/or client as a resource to help assess and/or resolve problems relating to cultural issues.

"CULTURAL DIVERSITY" means the distinguishable differences in life styles, values, traditions, religions, etc.

"CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE" means being proactively engaged with individuals in ways that are appropriate within their cultural values, behaviors, and norms. This can include shared knowledge, beliefs, laws, arts, customs, habits, priorities, expectations, and many other shared practices.

"CULTURE" means the integrated pattern of human behavior including thought, communication, actions, customs, beliefs, values, institutions, of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group.

"CUSTODIAN" means the person or entity who has the legal right to the custody of the child. RCW 13.32A.030

DEPENDENT CHILD” means any child or youth who:

  • Has been abandoned;
  • Is abused or neglected as defined in RCW 26.44.020 by an individual legally responsible for the care of the child or youth;
  • Has no parent, guardian or custodian capable of adequately caring for the child or youth, such that the child or youth is in circumstances which constitute a substantial danger to the child’s or youth's psychological or physical development.

"DESK REVIEW" means a monitoring activity comprised of reviewing information including but not limited to the contractor’s payment and billing system, and reports to verify contract compliance.

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILTY” means a disability attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or another neurological or other condition of an individual found by the secretary to be closely related to an intellectual disability or to require treatment similar to that required for individuals with intellectual disabilities, which disability originates before the individual attains age 18, which has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely, and which constitutes a substantial limitation to the individual. By January 1, 1989, the department shall promulgate rules which define neurological or other conditions in a way that is not limited to intelligence quotient scores as the sole determinant of these conditions, and notify the legislature of this action, per RCW 71A.10.020.


  1. Adolescent - a child age 12 but less than 18 years.
  2. Child - a born person less than 18 years.
  3. Fetus - the unborn child.
  4. Infant - a child from birth until one year of age.
  5. Toddler - a child age one but less than six years.

"DLR COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW": The Comprehensive Review is a thorough review of the BRS contractor or other contracted and/or licensed provider's ability to meet licensing, contracts, and programming requirements. It includes an onsite review, completion of approved forms and tools, and a final report.

"DOCUMENTED MEDICAL CONDITION" is any physical or mental health condition documented by a licensed health care provider that may be temporary or permanent, including but not limited to, a physical injury or a physical or behavioral health condition.

A "documented medical condition" may include physiological, mental, or psychological conditions or disorders, including but not limited to, orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments.

DUAL LANGUAGE (DL) EMPLOYEES” are assigned to DCYF approved DL positions and have provided verification of passing the required DCYF DL employee examination from a DCYF-recognized professional examination, including, but not limited to the:

  • Language Testing International (LTI)
  • Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Language Testing and Certification program (LTC)
  • American Translators Association
  • DSHS Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • State of Washington Administrator for the Courts
  • Federal Court
  • American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

"ETHNIC" means a group designated by customs, characteristics, language, common history and/or racial affiliation.

"ETHNOGRAPHIC INTERVIEWING" means communication with a member of another culture to identify the:

  1. Key cultural differences.
  2. Meaning of those cultural practices and norms.

"EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER" means an adult who is a grandparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, aunt, or first cousin with whom the child has a relationship and is comfortable and who is willing and available to care for the child. RCW 13.32A.030

“EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES” (in relation to adoption support) means a finding by an administrative law judge or a review judge that one or more certain qualifying conditions or events prevented an otherwise eligible child from being placed on the adoption support program prior to adoption.

"FAMILY PRESERVATION SERVICES" means in-home or community-based services drawing on the strengths of the family and its individual members while addressing family needs to strengthen and keep the family together where possible and may include:

  1. Respite care of children to provide temporary relief for parents and other care givers.
  2. Services designed to improve parenting skills with respect to such matters as child development, family budgeting, coping with stress, health, safety, and nutrition.
  3. Services designed to promote the well-being of children and families, increase the strength and stability of families, increase parents' confidence and competence in their parenting abilities, promote a safe, stable, and supportive family environment for children, and otherwise enhance children's development.

RCW 74.14C.010

FOSTER CARE” means the placement of children or youth by DCYF or licensed child placing agencies in homes or facilities licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW or in homes or facilities that are not required to be licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW.

“FOSTER HOMES OR FAMILY FOSTER HOMES” means an individual licensed to regularly provide 24-hour care in their home to children or youth. 

FOSTER PARENT LIABILITY PLAN” means reimbursement for foster parents or respite provider’s personal property damages, losses, or injuries that were allegedly due to the actions of foster or respite children or youth per WAC 110-50-1000 to WAC 110-50-1090.

GROUP CARE” means the provision of a safe, healthful environment for youth in a 24-hour licensed facility for more than six children, which provides the basic needs of food, shelter, and the provision of therapeutic services required for the successful reunification of youth with their family resource.

"GUARDIAN" means that person or agency that (a) has been appointed as the guardian of a child in a legal proceeding other than a proceeding under chapter 13.34 RCW, and (b) has the right to legal custody of the child pursuant to such appointment. The term "guardian" does not include a "dependency guardian" appointed pursuant to a proceeding under Chapter 13.34 RCW. RCW 13.32A.030; 13.34.030

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS” are medical doctors (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), doctors of naturopathy (ND), physician assistants (PA), or advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP).

HEALTH & EDUCATION RECORD” means the entire array of data entry screens in the electronic data system, including the provider, education, behavior, counseling, and daily routine information entered by CA staff.

HEARINGS ON THE MERITS OF THE PETITION” are court hearings that take place after a threshold hearing, and the petitioning youth must show clear and convincing evidence that they have not achieved a sustained permanent plan, and is not likely to achieve such a plan, and that reinstatement is in their best interest. 

HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (HIV)” means the virus that causes AIDS, which is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. HIV is a retrovirus that occurs as two types: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Both types are transmitted through direct contact with HIV-infected body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, or from a mother who has HIV to her child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding through breast milk.

"IMMINENT RISK" means, for Intensive Family Preservation Services, when a decision has been made by the department that without intensive family preservation services, a petition requesting the removal of a child from the family home will be immediately filed under chapters 13.13A or 13.34 RCW, or that a voluntary placement agreement will be immediately initiated. 74.14C.010 RCW

"IMMINENT RISK OF SERIOUS HARM" (Used in Risk Only Intakes and coordination with law enforcement)

Imminent - Having the potential to occur at any moment, or there is substantial likelihood that harm will be experienced.

Risk of Serious Harm - A high likelihood of a child being abused or experiencing negligent treatment or maltreatment that could result in one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Death
  • Life endangering illness
  • Injury requiring medical attention
  • Substantial risk of injury to the physical, emotional, or cognitive development

"IMPENDING DANGER" means parenting behavior that is harmful and destructive to a child's cognitive, social, emotional or physical development that is likely to occur in the immediate or near future that could result in one of more of the following outcomes:

  • Death
  • Life endangering illness
  • Injury requiring medical attention
  • Serious or severe harm

INDIAN CHILD” means any unmarried and unemancipated person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member or citizen of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership or citizenship in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member/citizen of an Indian tribe. 25 U.S.C. § 1903 (4); 25 C.F.R. § 23.2. A child who meets this definition is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

INFORMED CONSENT” means the process by which the treating health care provider discloses appropriate information to a competent patient or their caregiver so that a decision can be made to accept or refuse treatment; including medications. It originates from the legal and ethical right the patient has to direct what happens to their body and from the ethical duty of the physician to involve the patient in their health care.

IN-HOME SERVICES” means services provided in the child’s home in lieu of out-of-home placement equivalent to the level of service intensity required to maintain the child in residential care.

IN-HOME PRE-FACT FINDING” means when DCYF files a dependency petition and children or youth either:

  • Remain in the home.
  • Are returned to the home prior to a dependency being established and DCYF does not retain PCA (Placement and Care Authority) per the court order.

"IN LOCO PARENTIS" A person who acts in the position of a parent of a child and who has assumed on an on-going basis a parent’s rights, duties and responsibilities towards the child. A person living in the home and participating in the day-to-day parenting decisions in one or more of the following:

  • Financial
  • Supervision
  • Decisions on where the child sleeps within the home
  • Discipline
  • Attending medical appointments
  • Attending school conferences

"INQUIRY ONLY CALLS" occur when someone contacts Children's Administration for the sole purpose of obtaining information and not for purposes of alleging CA/N or requesting services specific to CA.

"INTENSIVE FAMILY PRESERVATION SERVICES" means community-based services that are delivered primarily in the home, that follow intensive service models with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing or avoiding the need for unnecessary imminent out-of-home placement. RCW 74.14C.010

LEGALLY FREE -A child is legally free for adoption if the child has no legal parent, either because the parent has died or because parental rights have been terminated (through relinquishment or involuntary termination) by a court order.

"LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY" means individuals that are limited in their ability to read, write, or speak English or have a limited ability to speak or read English well enough to understand and communicate effectively.

LITIGATION is a civil claim or lawsuit alleging that certain kinds of harm or damages were caused by the State of Washington, its agencies, or state employees.

LITIGATION HOLD NOTICE is communication that instructs ‘affected individuals’ who are likely to have DCYF records pertaining to a legal issue to take immediate action to identify and preserve the records for future retrieval.

MEDICAL HISTORY” means health information on the child contained in the child’s case record, as required by the CA Practices and Procedures Guide, chapter 4000, section 43092, Health and Education Record.

MEDICAL NECESSITYFOR INPATIENT MENTAL HEALTH CARE” means a requested service which is reasonably calculated to: (a) diagnose, correct, cure, or alleviate a mental disorder; or (b) prevent the worsening of mental conditions that endanger life or cause suffering and pain, or result in illness or infirmity or threaten to cause or aggravate a handicap, or cause physical deformity or malfunction, and there is no adequate less restrictive alternative available. RCW 71.34.020

"MISSING CHILD" means any child under the care and authority of CA and the child's whereabouts are unknown and/or the child has left care without the permission of the child's caregiver or CA. This does not include children in dependency guardianship

"MONITORING" includes any activity that reviews and evaluates contractor performance and compliance with the terms, conditions, and requirements of a contract.

"MONITORING PLAN" means a written proposal for monitoring contractor(s) compliance with the contract requirements and obligations. The plan is based on the assessment of risk to the department and its clients as well as the performance of services by the contractor.

"NEAR FATALITY" means an act that, as certified by a physician, places the child in serious or critical condition. RCW 74.13.500

"NEAR VERBATIM" means in exactly the same words as were used originally.

"NEWBORN" or "NEONATE" means a child up to age 1 month (4 weeks old).

"ON-SITE REVIEW" is a contract monitoring activity that reviews and evaluates contractor performance and compliance with the terms, conditions, and requirements of a contract at the contractor’s place of business.

“ORIGINAL PLACEMENT DATE” or “ORIGINAL FOSTER CARE PLACEMENT”, for the purposes of the Social Security Act and federal regulations, means the date of the child’s most recent removal from the child’s home and placement into foster care under the care and responsibility of the state agency. 45 CFR 1356.21(k)

This definition applies both to children placed in foster care under a voluntary agreement and to those children under the state’s responsibility through court order. Therefore, the original date of placement, for purposes of Title IV-E and section 422 of Title IV-B, would be when the child is in foster care and the state has been given responsibility for care either through a voluntary placement agreement or a court adjudication. PIQ 83-06

"OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENT or CARE" means a placement in a foster family home or group care facility or placement in a home, other than that of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, not required to be licensed under 74.15 RCW. RCW 74.14C.010

"PARENT" means a biological parent or adoptive parent of a child or an individual who have an established parent-child relationship under RCW 26.26.101, unless the legal rights of that person have been terminated or paternity has been disestablished.


  1. Custodian - a person appointed by the parent, guardian, or court to provide care for a child.
  2. Guardian - a person appointed by the court to provide care or to supervise a child.
  3. Parent - is the prime person responsible for the care of a child and may include:
    1. Adoptive parent - a person the courts grant parental status, rights, and privileges for a child.
    2. Birth or natural parents - the persons, male and female, who conceived and gave birth to the child.
    3. Custodial parent - the parent with whom the child resides:
    4. Legal - a current court order designating a parent's right to the child's custody that may include:
      1. Joint custody.
      2. Parenting plans.
      3. Shared custody.
      4. Sole custody to one parent.
    5. Physical - the parent(s) with whom the child resides or is found.
  4. Stepparent - a person, not the child's parent, who is currently married to the child's parent.
  5. Caretaker - a person who has actual physical supervision responsibility for a child and may include any of the above parenting statuses or a person appointed to provide physical custody.

"PERIOD OF PURPLE CRYING" is a phrase used to describe the time in a baby's life when they cry more than any other time:

  1. The word "PURPLE" is an acronym that describes the characteristics of infant crying:
    1. Peak of Crying - Crying peaks during the second month, decreasing after that
    2. Unexpected - Crying comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason
    3. Resists Soothing - Crying may continue despite all soothing efforts by caregivers
      1. Encouragement of soothing has been shown to help in up to 50% of cases
    4. Pain-like Face - Infants look like they are in pain, even when they are not
    5. Long Lasting - Crying can go on for 30-40 minutes at a time, and often for much longer up to 5 hours in some cases
    6. Evening Crying - Crying occurs more in the late afternoon and evening
  2. The word "Period" informs caregivers that the crying is a temporary event.  

"PLACEMENT DECISION" means the decision to place, or to delay or deny the placement of, a child in a foster care or an adoptive home, and includes the decision of the agency or entity involved to seek the termination of birth parent rights or otherwise make a child legally available for adoptive placement. 42 USC 5115a

PLACEMENT EPISODE” means the period of time that begins with the most recent date that the child or youth was removed from the home of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian for purposes of placement in out-of-home care and continues until one of the following occur, per RCW 13.34.030:

  • The child or youth returns home.
  • An adoption decree, a permanent custody order, or guardianship order is entered.
  • The dependency is dismissed.

"PRESENT DANGER" means immediate, significant, and clearly observable severe harm or threat of severe harm occurring in the present.

"PRESERVATION SERVICES" means family preservation services and intensive family preservation services that consider the individual family's cultural values and needs. RCW 74.14C.010

PRESUMED PARENT” means an individual who under RCW 26.26A.115 is presumed to be a parent of a child or youth, unless the presumption is overcome in a judicial proceeding, a valid denial of parentage is made under RCW 26.26A.200 through 26.26A.265, or a court adjudicates the individual to be a parent.

"PREVENTIVE SERVICES" means preservation services, as defined in 74.14C RCW, and other reasonably available services capable of preventing the need for out-of-home placement while protecting the child. RCW 13.34.030

PRIMARY OR PREFERRED LANGUAGE” is the language a client or caregiver identifies as the language in which they want to communicate verbally or in writing with DCYF.

PRN” stands for pro re nata and means “As needed.”

"PROBATIONARY LICENSE" means a license issued as a disciplinary measure to an agency that has previously been issued a full license but is out of compliance with licensing standards. RCW 74.15.020

"PROPERTY OR PREMISES" means your buildings and grounds adjacent to your residential property that are owned or managed by you.

"PROTECTIVE ACTION" means an immediate short term response to control present danger observed at first contact with a family. Or at any time present danger is identified to manage the immediate threats to a child.

PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION” means medication, the prescribed intent of which is to affect or alter thought processes, mood, sleep, or behavior, including, but not limited to, anti-psychotic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic medications. The classification of a medication depends on its stated, intended effect when prescribed because it may have many different effects. Examples of some such medications are:

  • Amitriptyline/Elavil
  • Desipramine/Norpramine
  • Amoxapine/Asendin
  • Imipramine/Tofranil
  • Trimipramine/Surmontil
  • Fluoxetine/Prozac
  • Sertraline/Zoloft
  • Phenelzine/Nardil
  • Isocarboxazid/Marplan
  • Burpropion/Wellbutrin
  • Carbamazepine/Tegretol
  • Lithium/Eskalith or Lithobid
  • Chlordiazepoxide/Librium
  • Diasepam/Valium
  • Lorazepam/Ativan
  • Propranolol/Inderal
  • Chlorpromazine/Thorazine
  • Halperiodal/Haldol
  • Trifluoperazine/Stelazine
  • Thioridazine/Mellaril
  • Methylphenidate/Ritalin
  • Pemoline/Cylert
  • Amphetamine Sulfate/Amphetamine

"QUALITY ASSURANCE" measures compliance against standards and informs continuous quality improvement.

PUBLIC RECORDS are any writings related to the performance or conduct of government, that was prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics per RCW 42.56.010 (3).

RECORDS are any documents or recorded information regardless of form or characteristics created, sent, organized, or received by DCYF in the course of public business including paper documents, emails, log books, drawings, graphs, charts, video or audio recordings, photographs, phone records, data compilations, planners, calendars, text messages, draft documents, electronically stored information (ESI), and metadata.

“REASONABLE CAUSE” means an individual witnesses or receives a credible written or oral report alleging abuse or neglect of a child or youth, including sexual contact, per RCW 26.44.030.

REASONABLE AND PRUDENT PARENTING STANDARD means the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safely, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child, that a caregiver or designated official for a child care institution shall use when determining whether to allow a child in foster care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. (See Prudent Parenting Guide DCYF CWP_0078 publication).

The term ‘age or developmentally-appropriate’ means:

  1. Activities or items that are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same chronological age or level of maturity or that are determined to be developmentally-appropriate for a child, based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for an age or age group; and
  2. In the case of a specific child, activities or items that are suitable for the child based on the developmental stages attained by the child with respect to the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of the child.

"RELATIVES" means the same as defined in RCW 13.36.020(5), RCW 74.15.020(2), or caregivers of Indian children or youth who are defined by tribal code or custom as relatives or extended family.

RELINQUISH OR RELINQUISHMENT” means the voluntary surrender of custody of a child or youth to the department, an agency, or prospective adoptive parents, per RCW 26.33.020.

RESIDENTIAL CARE” is a generic term for group care, residential treatment, and treatment foster care.

"RUNAWAY" is a juvenile who leaves and remains away from home without parental permission. (This definition is taken from “The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act”.)"SAFE" child means children are considered safe when there is no present danger or impending danger threats or the caregiver's protective capacities control all known safety threats.

"SAFE HAVEN (Safety of Newborn Children Act)" Allows a parent to transfer (abandon) a newborn anonymously and without criminal liability at a hospital emergency room, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic if open and personnel are present to accept the child.

"SAFETY THRESHOLD" means the criteria that must be met in the family's situation to determine that a vulnerable child is unsafe. Criteria include threats to safety that 1) are observable and specific, 2) immediate or near future, 3) out of control, 4) have the potential for severe impacts, there is a vulnerable child 5) there is a vulnerable child.

"SERIOUS INJURY" of a child client is an injury requiring professional and medical treatment (beyond first aid).

"SERVICE AGREEMENT" means a formal written description of services to be provided or performed. Agreements are developed by the social worker with the parent and/or the court and any child over age 13 who is to receive or participate in services.

SEX TRAFFICKING” means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.

“SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM” (See also Commercially Sexually Exploited Child) means any children or youth that the state or tribal agency has responsibility for placement and care authority and who the agency has reasonable cause to believe is or is at risk of being, a sex trafficking victim, this includes children or youth:

  • The agency has an open case for, but they:
    • Have not been removed from their home.
    • Are missing from foster care and have not attained age 18 or such older age as the state has elected under section Social Security Act §475(9) of this the Act.
  • Who are not in foster care, but are receiving services under section Social Security Act §475(9).

SEXUAL ASSAULT” means one or more of the following, per RCW 70.125.030:

  • Rape or rape of a child
  • Assault with intent to commit rape
  • Incest or indecent liberties
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor
  • Custodial sexual misconduct
  • Crimes with a sexual motivation
  • Sexual exploitation or commercial sex abuse of a minor
  • Promoting prostitution
  • An attempt to commit any of the aforementioned offenses

"SEXUALLY EXPLOITED YOUTH" means any person under the age of eighteen who is a victim of one of the following crimes:

  • Commercial sexual abuse of a minor (RCW 9.68A.100),
  • Promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor (RCW 9.68A.101) or
  • Promoting travel for commercial sexual abuse of a minor (RCW 9.68A.102)

“SPECIAL NEEDS” means the specific factors or conditions that apply to the child and that may prevent the child from being adopted unless the department provides adoption support services.

"SUBSTANCE-AFFECTED NEWBORN" means a newborn child who has withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal substance exposure and/or demonstrates physical or behavioral signs that can be attributed to prenatal exposure to substances.

"SUBSTANCE-EXPOSED NEWBORN" means a newborn child who tests positive for substance(s) at birth, or the mother tests positive for substance(s) at the time of delivery or the newborn is identified by a medical practitioner as having been prenatally exposed to substance(s).

SUBSTITUTE CARE” means an out-of-home placement of a child or youth for purposes related to the provision of child welfare services in accordance with chapter 74.13 RCW where the child or youth is in the care, custody, and control of the department pursuant to a proceeding under chapter 13.34 RCW or pursuant to the written consent of the child's or youth's parent, parents, or custodian. 

"SUITABLE PERSONS" means nonrelatives with whom the child or youth, or the child's or youth's family, has a preexisting relationship; who has completed all required criminal history background checks and otherwise appears to be suitable and competent to provide care for the child or youth, and with whom they have been placed pursuant to RCW 13.34.130.

"TEMPORARY OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENT" means an out-of-home placement of not more than 14 days ordered by a court at a fact-finding hearing on a child in need of services (CHINS) petition. RCW 13.32A.030

THRESHOLD HEARINGS” are court hearings that take place following youth filing a petition to reinstate their parent’s parental rights. These hearings consider the parent’s ability and interest in caring for the youth that filed the petition to reinstate parental rights.

TRANSLATORS” means individuals who are working for contracted translation businesses or have passed one of the following, the:

  1. Written translation examination offered by Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Language Testing and Certification Program (LTC).
  2. DCYF or DSHS LTC recognized written translation examination offered by another organization.

TREATMENT FOSTER CARE” means a program designed for children, youth, and their families whose special needs are provided through services delivered primarily by treatment foster parents trained, supervised, and supported by agency staff. In addition to the provision of a safe, healthful environment, foster parents are expected to be members of the treatment team and to perform tasks which are central to the treatment process in a manner consistent with the child’s treatment plan.

"UNEXPECTED DEATH OF A MINOR" means a death not resulting from a diagnosed terminal illness or other debilitating or deteriorating illness or condition where death is anticipated.

UNFOUNDED” means available information indicates that, more likely than not, child abuse or neglect did not occur. Chapter 26.44.020

"UNSAFE" child means children are considered unsafe when they are vulnerable to present or impending danger and caregiver(s) is unable or unwilling to provide protection.

“WRAPAROUND WITH INTENSIVE SERVICES (WISe)” means intensive mental health services and supports, provided in home and community settings, for Medicaid eligible individuals, up to 21 years of age, with complex behavioral health needs and their families. These services are provided by community mental health agencies.

WRITING is handwritten, typed, printed, photographed, and every other means of recording any form of communication. This includes papers, video or audio recordings, and any other documents that information may be obtained or translated per RCW 42.56.010(4).