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Welcome to the
Online Orientation
for Foster Care Licensing

Thank You for Your Interest in Becoming a Foster Parent!

Orientation will:

  • Discuss the different programs within Children's Administration (CA) with whom you will be working.
  • Provide information on what you can expect when fostering children.
  • Explain both the home study and licensing processes.
  • Introduce our Foster Parent Recruitment & Retention contractors who support prospective foster families as they go through the licensing process.
Orientation is intended for prospective Foster Parents. For questions regarding unlicensed relative/suitable other care please talk with your child's social worker or home study worker.

Welcome to DSHS Children's Administration (CA)

We would like to introduce the two different divisions of CA that you will be working with as you become licensed, maintain your license, and have foster children placed in your home:

  • Division of Licensed Resources (DLR)
  • Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS)

Division of Licensed Resources

Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) completes home studies, licenses foster homes, group homes, and child placing agencies.

  • There are two sections within DLR that you will work with either before and/or after becoming a licensed foster parent:
    • DLR Assessment: Completes home studies for prospective placement families, licenses foster homes, group care facilities, and child placing agencies.
    • DLR Safety and Monitoring: Completes licensing renewals, health and safety visits, foster home moves, and licensing investigations.

Division of Child and Family Services

Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) works directly with the child, child's family, court and the family caring for the child.

  • Once you are licensed, most of your contact with the Department will occur through the child's DCFS worker.

Roles: DLR and DCFS


  • Application through home study and/or licensing completion
  • Monitors the foster families to ensure that the foster parents and foster homes meet the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) or minimum licensing requirements
  • Provides assistance if concerns arise
  • Investigates licensing issues in foster homes


  • Works with you as you work with your foster child
  • Assigned to the child and family
  • Responsible for payments, visitations and reporting to the court
  • Schedules monthly health and safety visits with the child and caregiver, team meetings, sibling visits, etc.
  • Creates the child's case plan and works with the child's family, foster parents, GALs, and others involved in the child's case

The Children We Serve

  • Come from culturally diverse populations
  • Require specific efforts to support and maintain their ethnic and cultural heritage
  • Have special needs due to abuse or neglect
  • These needs may include physical or mental health conditions and may require ongoing treatment, counseling or other additional services

ReMoved Video

  • ReMoved is about a 10 year old girl in the foster care system, that was removed from her home and then separated from her younger brother.
  • This video will help you better understand the children that we serve, but it may evoke some emotions and may be hard to watch.
  • If you have any questions following this video your licensor will be happy to speak with you.
Please view the ReMoved Video

Children's Needs

  • The children that are placed in your home may just have been removed from their biological family or transitioning from another home.
  • Children may have challenging behaviors that reflect negative childhood experiences.
  • It is important that you support the child without speaking negatively about their families.
  • The assigned DCFS worker is there to help with the transition and answer any questions you may have.

What Does an Appropriate Home Look Like?

Foster parents in Washington State are a diverse group of caring people:

  • Married/Single/Divorced or have a Partner
  • A relative of a child in need
  • Multi-Ethnic in heritage
  • Blended family
  • Gay-Lesbian family
  • Sufficient income for the household
  • Supportive of the case plan
  • Willing to work with CA
  • Nurturing and caring
  • Willing to take classes and learn
  • Flexible, patient team players who possess a sense of humor
Please watch, "Why Become a Caregiver?" (video)

DLR and Child Placing Agencies

  • Foster parents can choose to be licensed by the State of Washington through DLR or by a Child Placing Agency (CPA).
    • DLR and the CPAs have the same standards and serve the same children.
    • DLR licenses the homes directly.
    • CPAs certify homes that meet the home study and licensing requirements, and DLR issues the foster home license.
    • CPAs may:
      • Specialize or serve specific populations.
      • Require additional training.
      • Have case managers or additional staff to assist their agency foster homes.
  • If you are interested in working with a CPA, DLR can provide you with a list of local agencies or the Foster Parent Liaisons or Peer Mentors can assist you with obtaining information on this or other foster parent supports.

Types of Care

  • General Foster Care
    • General foster homes are available to take placement of children that are within the age range, gender, and capacity on their license.
    • General foster care homes licensed through DLR or a CPA that have specific skills may also work with a specialized population such as:
      • Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities
      • Medically fragile children
      • At risk youth
      • Physically and/or sexually aggressive youth
  • Child Specific Licensed Foster Care
    • Relatives/suitable others licensed to provide care to a specific child.
  • Respite Care
    • Certified Respite Providers: Respite provider approved to provide respite in a licensed foster home. There are fewer requirements for this.
    • Licensed Respite Providers: Respite providers that provide respite for licensed foster parents in their own home must meet all licensing requirements.

Family First

DCFS staff work with parents toward reunification, while at the same time, prepare an alternate permanent plan if reunification is not in the best interest of the child.

Relatives are considered first for placement. Relative searches are conducted throughout the child's time in care.

Adoption of children in the custody of CA usually occurs with families who already have a relationship with the child.

Washington Administrative Code
388-148 Foster Care Licensing

  • Foster parents must meet all the Washington Administrative Codes (WAC) prior to being issued a foster care license and during the time you maintain your foster care license.
  • The licensor will review the WAC requirements with you.
  • Prior to licensing you are required to read WAC 388-148 in its entirety.

View WAC 388-148 on the DSHS website - https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/foster-parenting/guidelines-laws-rules

Reporting Responsibilities

WAC 388-148-1420

  • As a mandated reporter, the following must be reported to intake no later than 48 hours after the incident occurred
    • Suspected child abuse or neglect
    • Any use of physical restraint, sexual contact between children, any child's suicide attempts
    • Child has a serious illness or injury or psychiatric care that requires medical treatment or hospitalization

WAC 388-148-1425 Child missing from care

  • Caregiver reporting requirement for a child that runs away while in your care

Intake phone number: 1-866-END-HARM (363-4276)

Reporting will be covered in greater depth during Caregiver Core Training.

Please view the Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Video

Application Packet

To Start the Licensing Process:

Submission of the application DSHS 10-354, and background checks DSHS 09-653 for all your household members age 16 years and older will start the licensing process, but we encourage you to submit a fully completed packet for more efficient and quicker processing.

Printable Forms:

To access printable forms click the hyperlink. Enter the form number or name.


Application Packet Continued

Forms required for Foster Care Licensing Applicants:

  • Application Form (DSHS 10-354)
  • Background Authorization Form(s) (DSHS 09-653) are required for all household members age 16 years and older. A criminal conviction does not necessarily disqualify you.
  • Government issued photo ID
  • Out of State Check for Child Abuse or Neglect (DSHS 15-460)
  • Personal Information Form (DSHS 15-276)
  • Marital History (DSHS 09-979)
  • Financial Worksheet (DSHS 14-452)
  • Applicant Medical Report (DSHS 13-001)
  • Policy Agreement (DSHS 10-290)
  • Emergency Evacuation Plan (DSHS 16-204)
  • Employed Foster Parent Child Care Plan (DSHS 10-406)

Additional Information:

  • Please be sure to fill out all of the forms completely and legibly.
  • Please keep a copy of all of your paperwork for your records.
  • Submit your application materials to your local DLR Office (See List on page 27 of this training).

Requirements Prior to Licensing

All Applicants

  • Background Check
    • If the applicant has a criminal FBI Fingerprint Rap Sheet it will be mailed directly to the applicant.
    • The DLR worker will request the FBI Fingerprint RAP Sheet from the applicant in order to proceed with the licensing process.
  • FBI (US Federal Bureau of Investigation)
  • WSP (Washington State Patrol)
  • Children's Administration Data Base Check
  • Out of State Child Abuse Registry Check if applicable
  • Current driver's license and car insurance

Additional Requirements Prior to Licensing

To Start the Licensing Process:

  • Caregiver Core Training (24 hours)
  • Current TB test (completed within last 12 months)
  • Immunizations for biological and/or adopted children
  • If being licensed to care for children under the age of two years old, the following immunizations are required for all household members:
    • Tdap for all household members ages 7 years and above or DTaP if under the age of 6 years
    • Influenza required for all household member ages 6 months and above
      • A medical exception for the influenza vaccine is available if the vaccine would result in a severe medical consequence to the individual.
        Please talk to your licensor for more information.

First Aid/CPR and HIV/BBP Training

First Aid/ CPR and HIV/BBP are required for licensing for all household member 18 years of age and who will be providing care.

  • Free First Aid/CPR/HIV/BBP training is available from:
    Keepthebeatcpr.net or by telephone at 253-217-1105.
    • First Aid/CPR training is required for specific ages.
    • The full CPR class is required, not just the chest compressions class and it cannot be completed online.
    • Licensing requires a current First Aid/CPR certification at all times. It needs to be renewed prior to the expiration on the card and must be provided to the licensor.
  • HIV/AIDS/BBP training
    • Required one time, prior to the issuing of the license.

Foster Parent Training

  • Prior to Licensure: Applicants can count up to 18 hours of training, but it must have been completed within 12 months of DLR receiving the licensing application and meet one of the three core competencies.
  • Licensed Foster Parents: If a foster parent completes more hours than required they can carry over up to 12 hours of training to their next licensing cycle.
  • For more information please see:

Foster Parent In-Service Training
WAC 388-148-1380

  • Licensed foster parents are required to complete continuing education training hours for their license renewal.
  • The training must meet one of the following three core competencies:
    • Understanding and working within the Child Welfare System
    • Parenting and Family Management
    • Caregiver Self-Awareness and Development
  • Required Continuing Education Hours:
    • First 3 year licensing cycle: 36 hours
    • Second 3 year licensing cycle: 30 hours
    • All subsequent licensing cycles: 24 hours

The Home Study Process

Target: Complete the home study and licensing process within 120 days of DLR receiving the application and background checks.

Home Study includes:

  • At least 3 in-person interviews
  • Interviews with all children in the home
  • Contact with all adult children
  • Home inspection

Licensed Foster Homes

Foster homes must meet all of the licensing requirements WAC 388-148

  • Must be clean and sanitary
  • Have a working telephone and be accessible when a child is present
  • Children must be able to escape from every floor
  • Appropriate child proofing for ages birth to six
  • Adequate space and bedrooms with appropriate bed(s)
  • Age appropriate furnishings and activities for children in care

Licensed Foster Home Requirements Continued

  • Must have laundry facilities
  • Bedrooms must have two exits
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb. minimum, 2A10BC rating)
  • Cribs have a maximum of 2 3/8" between vertical slats
  • Smoke alarms
  • Stoves and fireplaces must have a barrier to prevent access by children under 6 years of age
  • First aid kit (See WAC 388-148-1550 for a list of required items)
  • Pools and hot tubs must be fenced/locked/secured regardless of age of children on the license and have a written supervision plan
  • Well test if on private water source within the last 12 months
  • Human and pet medications must be kept in separate locked containers
  • Weapons and ammunition must be locked separately unless both are stored in a gun safe

Next Steps

  • Sign up for Caregiver Core Training (CCT)
  • Complete your application packet and submit to your local DLR Office (See the list on page 27 of this training).
  • Keep a copy of your application packet for your records.
  • Please email the Foster Parent Recruitment Contractor serving your area.
    • In the email please let them know you completed the online foster parent orientation and be sure to provide them with your contact information.

Families from Eastern Washington please contact:

Eastern Washington University Fostering Washington at fosteringwa@ewu.edu

Families from Western Washington please contact:

Olive Crest Fostering Together at fosteringtogether@olivecrest.org

For more information and resources please visit the Foster Parent Website.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to complete Orientation!

We are here to answer any further questions you may have.

Region 1 North Melissa Fielding Spokane fieldmel@dshs.wa.gov 509.990.1766
Region 1 South Maria Rivera Yakima riverma@dshs.wa.gov 509.571.3859
Region 2 North Erin Swan Arlington swanee@dshs.wa.gov 360.631.2137
Region 2 South Jill Sullivan Kent sullijj@dshs.wa.gov 253.372.6011
Region 3 North Codie Jenkins Tacoma jenkicm@dshs.wa.gov 253.260.0452
Region 3 South Myrna Bragg Vancouver braggmm@dshs.wa.gov 360.993.7947

Test Your Knowledge

The last step in this orientation is to take a short quiz and see how well you understand the process of becoming a licensed foster parent.