Respite Care

Respite care is available for foster parents licensed by the Division of Licensed Resources (DLR), a Tribal agency, licensed Child Placing Agencies (CPA), or unlicensed relative caregivers and suitable person placements. It is available when you have a child placed in your care by DCYF or one of Washington’s Tribes. 

Respite care services for unlicensed relative caregivers or suitable person placements are intended to meet the needs of children and families in emergency situations and prevent placement disruptions. Respite services are paid by DCYF if the respite provider for an unlicensed relative caregiver or a suitable person placement is a licensed foster parent.

Persons providing respite care in their own home must be licensed by the Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) as a foster parent. Respite providers must remain within the terms issued on their foster care license (age, gender and number of children). Under the Prudent Parent Law (RCW 74.13.710) you can allow your foster child to spend the night (up to 72 hours) with someone you know and trust. These arrangements are not considered respite care and the foster parent is responsible to pay any costs.

Under the Prudent Parent Law, you can determine who you trust to watch your foster child in your own home for up to 72 hours. If you are arranging in-home respite for longer than 72 hours, the respite provider must meet these requirements:

  • Background clearance through DCYF* 
    *Forms available from DCYF staff
  • Washington state criminal check with fingerprints
  • Have current First Aid/CPR/Infant CPR certification
  • Provide three personal references to DCYF
  • Complete an interview with a DLR licensor or the child’s caseworker

Exchange respite is negotiated and arranged between licensed foster parents and does not include payment by DCYF. The specific guidelines are:

  • You must remain within the terms issued on your license (capacity, age, gender and number of children),
  • You must notify the child’s caseworker of the plan to exchange respite services before the respite takes place,
  • The caseworker must verify there are no licensing complaints pending which would disqualify the respite provider from caring for the child,
  • The caseworker will inform the respite provider of any special needs of the child, supervision requirements and safety issues prior to initiating respite.

Respite care reimbursement rates are established by DCYF. For children receiving a level 1 or 2 foster care rate, the daily reimbursement rate is $22.44.

Children who receive a level 3 or 4 foster care rate are eligible for a daily respite care rate of $38.76.

It is care provided to children placed in your home to give you a break from daily caregiver responsibilities. Respite care gives you the opportunity for personal time away from home and can support you if there is an emergency that takes you away from home. Respite care can play an important role in maintaining the stability of a child’s placement, avoiding disruption and supporting you.

Payment for respite care is taxable income; providers will have taxes deducted from their earnings. Respite providers for foster parents licensed through DLR, will have taxes deducted in their payment received from DCYF. Persons providing respite for foster parents licensed through CPAs are paid directly by the private agency. Because DCYF maintains a contract with the CPA for its services, taxes for respite payments are deducted by DCYF before the funds are sent to the CPA for disbursement to the respite provider.

Each respite provider that is receiving payment must complete a W-9 tax form prior to providing care. Because each person’s tax status is different, the amount of tax deducted from their payment will vary.

E-mail or call the child’s caseworker or the placement coordinator who arranged your respite; let them know the respite has not been paid. If you call make sure to leave a message if the caseworker isn’t available, including your name and contact information. If you are not able to reach the caseworker, you can press “0” for help, or request to speak with the caseworker’s supervisor.

DCYF pays the cost of retention respite for foster families licensed through DLR. DCYF does not pay for retention respite for foster parents licensed through private CPA’s; private agencies assume those costs under their contract with DCYF . However, DCYF does pay for child specific respite, regardless if the foster parent is licensed by DLR or by a CPA. Respite care must be authorized in advance by the child’s caseworker if it is to be paid for by DCYF.

CSR is linked directly to the medical, behavioral or special needs of an individual child placed in your home. CSR offers all families providing care to a child placed by DCYF, relief from the caregiving responsibilities that children with medical, behavioral, and special needs require. This type of respite is authorized on a case by case basis, consistent with the written service plan for the child. You can request to use CSR for half-days or full days. Half days cover up to five hours; anything over five hours is authorized as a full day. The CSR service for your foster child must be periodically re-authorized by the caseworker, and should be discussed in a shared planning meeting. When the caseworker considers a request for CSR, he or she must consider all other possibilities for relief from caregiving responsibilities that could assist you, such as retention respite, school, other relatives of the child, visitation, etc. If you need CSR for more than one week, it must be authorized by the Area Administrator.