The primary purpose of establishing national model standards is to help ensure children in foster care are safe while also establishing a reasonable, common-sense pathway to enable more relatives and nonrelatives to become licensed foster parents. Eliminating barriers caused by state licensing standards would assist relatives caring for children in foster care to become licensed and receive ongoing monthly financial assistance, supports and pathways to exit the system with monthly assistance.
Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) Licensing Division reviewed the national model licensing standards for foster homes. Largely, Washington’s licensing standards were consistent with the model standards; however, there were some slight deviations. The deviations consist mostly of minor discrepancies and particulars, as our Washington Administrative Codes (WAC) do not include the specific language or requirements detailed in the national model standards. A few changes do vary significantly and required program and practice changes.
The Licensing Division generated an action plan in order to address how our standards for licensed foster care align with those of the national standards. This required changes to WAC, Policy, Practice and Forms that are used to license a family home.
Relative Foster Family Homes
The Washington state foster care Licensing Division currently waives non-safety licensing standards for relative foster family homes. DCYF encourages these waivers to assist in supporting relative placements. The most commonly used waivers include issues surrounding dual licenses (childcare and foster care), age of applicant, income, household matters to include well testing (alternate plans for water will be developed while testing awaits), bedroom requirements, room sharing and home schooling. DCYF uses Licensing Waiver/Administrative Approval/Relative Non-Safety Exemption Form 15-411 to document said waivers. Policy updates were made in July 2019 and February 2020 for 5120 Licensing State Foster Homes in order to specify the procedure and use of the waivers for field staff.