Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
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Operations Manual

5500. Criminal History and Child Abuse and Neglect History Checks for Out-of-Home Placement

5510. Authority

  1. As part of determining character, competence and suitability of prospective out-of-home caregivers and other individuals to have unsupervised access to children, Children's Administration (CA) is required to conduct background checks (including criminal history and Child Abuse and Neglect or CA/N history) pursuant to RCW 43.43, RCW 74.15.030, WAC 388-06 and PL 109-248.
  2. For purposes of CPS investigations and emergent placement of children with unlicensed relatives and other suitable persons, CA has the authority to access criminal history information directly from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases pursuant to RCW 26.44.030, RCW 74.15 and PL 109-248.

5511. Definition of Required Criminal History and CA/N Checks

  1. A criminal history and CA/N check must be completed for anyone living in the home, age 16 and above, excluding youth in foster care:
    1. Prior to final approval of an out of home placement under the custody of CA with an unlicensed relative or other suitable person, or
    2. Prior to final approval of a foster home license, or
    3. Prior to final approval of an adoptive home study.
  2. For all youth living in the home, ages 16 and 17 (excluding youth in foster care):
    1. A FamLink records check, and
    2. A background check conducted by DSHS Background Check Central Unit (BCCU).
  3. For all adults living in the home, age 18 and above, criminal history and CA/N history must include the following:
    1. A FamLink records check,
    2. A background check conducted by BCCU,
    3. An FBI/WSP fingerprint based criminal history check processed by BCCU; unless the check is for renewal of a foster home license, and
    4. For persons who have lived outside of Washington State in the preceding five years, an out of state child abuse and neglect history check from all other states where the individual has lived during that time.

5512. Persons Subject to Criminal History and CA/N History Check Requirements

  1. CA staff must complete the required background check, as defined in this section, of out-of-home caregivers and other adults who will have unsupervised access to a child in their home, including:
    1. Relative caregivers as defined in RCW 74.15
    2. Other suitable persons as defined in RCW 13.34.130
    3. Foster parents
    4. Adoptive parents approved by CA
    5. All adults living in the home, age 18 and above
    6. All adults who move into the out of home placement after the child is placed or license approved
    7. All youth living in the home, ages 16 and 17 (excluding youth in foster care)
    8. Former foster youth who return to live with a caregiver upon exiting care
    9. Caregivers licensed by Washington State on behalf of child placing agencies and Tribes
    10. Caregivers who reapply for a license after their license has lapsed
    11. Licensed respite providers
    12. Unlicensed relative respite providers
    13. Individuals providing in-home child care for children being served by CA
  2. CA is responsible for conducting the background check for children under the custody of another state who are placed with a foster or unlicensed relative caregiver in Washington State through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
  3. Caregivers of children under the custody of Washington State who are placed in another state through ICPC will have their background check completed by the receiving state according to the receiving state's policy.
  4. Prior to a dependent child being returned to their parent's home, the social worker must conduct a criminal background check on all adults residing in the home.
  5. Complete for safety plan participants per Safety Plan Policy.

5513. BCCU Background Check

  1. A background check conducted by BCCU is required for all adults, age 18 and above, and for all youth ages 16 and 17 living in the home. Youth in foster care are excluded from this requirement, however if a youth ages out of care and later voluntarily returns to foster care, a BCCU check is required.
  2. Prior to a dependent child being returned to their parent's home, the social worker must conduct a BCCU check on all adults residing in the home.
  3. BCCU background checks may be used to authorize unsupervised access to a child to facilitate a safety or service plan.
  4. Each individual must complete and sign a Background Authorization Form (DSHS 09-653) prior to BCCU conducting a Washington State background check. For youth ages 16 and 17, a parent or guardian must also sign the authorization form.
  5. The requesting CA staff must sign the completed Background Authorization Form prior to forwarding the request to BCCU.
  6. A BCCU check is required at the time of re-licensing or if there is a change in the license.
  7. A BCCU check is valid for one calendar year for purposes of the home study process. If it has been longer than one year since the background check was completed, the social worker must request another BCCU check.

5514. FBI Fingerprint Based Check

  1. An FBI fingerprint based criminal history check is required for all adults, age 18 and above.
  2. A completed Background Authorization Form (DSHS 09-653) with required signatures will be faxed to BCCU.
  3. If fingerprints transmitted electronically require a BCCU tracking number (i.e. Originating Case Agency-OCA number) be documented on the Background Authorization form.
  4. CA staff are not to contact the FBI or Washington State Patrol (WSP) for any purpose related to the completion of a background check as this could further delay the process. All requests for status should be submitted through BCCU and they will provide results to CA staff.
  5. CA is required to pay for the cost of processing the FBI/WSP fingerprint check for all persons subject to fingerprints as defined in Section 5512 (A).
  6. Social workers will ensure documentation of one or more of the following notations, as applicable, for each person in the FamLink Person Management page within 3 calendar days of action and/or receipt of information. Additional information is to be documented in case/provider notes.
    • OCA number (insert number) generated, client referred to fingerprint agency, and Background Authorization Form (BAF) faxed to BCCU
    • No hits/no record
    • No disqualifier
    • Five year disqualifier - Include Name of Crime(s)/Negative Action
    • Permanent disqualifier - Include Name of Crime(s) and/or Negative Action
    • Fingerprints rejected, client referred to WSP (as applicable)
    • Fingerprint Waiver: Alternate Approval to Fingerprinting "Approved" (as applicable)

5515. FamLink Records Check for Allegations of Abuse or Neglect

  1. A FamLink records check is required for all individuals identified in Section 5512 of this policy.
  2. Founded reports of child abuse or neglect must be considered in determining whether a person is disqualified from being authorized by the department to care for children. RCW 26.44.100
  3. A FamLink check is required at the time of re-licensing or if there is a change in the license.
  4. Social workers will ensure documentation of one or more of the following notations, as applicable, for each person in the FamLink Person Management page within 3 calendar days of action and/or receipt of information. Additional information is to be documented in case/provider notes.
    • No Founded Finding
    • Founding Finding of CA/N - Specify Type of CA/N (i.e. Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, etc)

5516. Out of State Child Abuse and Neglect History Check for Allegations of Child Abuse or Neglect (CA/N)

  1. If an adult, age 18 and above, has lived in another state during the preceding five years, CA is required to make a request for out-of-state records for allegations of child abuse and neglect in each state the individual has lived during that time. This applies to all individuals identified in Section 5512 of this policy
  2. The individual must sign an authorization of disclosure prior to conducting the out-of-state records check. If the other state does not have a required form, the Out of State Child Abuse and Neglect Information Request form located at:
    http://www.dshs.wa.gov/word/ca/OutofStateRequest.doc
  3. Social workers will ensure documentation of one or more of the following notations, as applicable, for each person in the FamLink Person Management page is completed within 3 calendar days of action and/or receipt of information. Additional information is to be documented in case/provider notes.
    • Other state did not respond within 30 calendar days
    • No Founded Finding
    • Founding Finding of CA/N - Specify Type of CA/N (i.e. Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, etc)

5517. National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Checks for Emergent Placements - Purpose Code X

CA is authorized by the FBI to access the NCIC database "to check for criminal history in limited situations when emergent circumstances exist that do not reasonably allow for immediate fingerprinting prior to placement." In Washington State, emergency placement refers to those limited instances when the Department is placing a child in the home of private individuals, including neighbors, friends, or relatives, as a result of a sudden unavailability of the child's primary caregiver. This is known as a "Purpose Code X" access check. Purpose Code X checks are based on name and date-of-birth information and are a point in time check.

  1. NCIC requests for emergent placement must be conducted under NCIC Purpose Code X in accordance with state and federal laws. (RCW 26.44.030 and PL 109-248)
  2. NCIC checks for emergent placement will be conducted by the NCIC Unit staff at the request of the placing social worker.
  3. NCIC Unit staff will complete a Criminal History Summary Form and provide results of the Purpose Code X check to the requesting social worker.
  4. CA staff may not approve an emergent placement of a child with an unlicensed caregiver until the following has been completed:
    1. FamLink check on all adults in the home; and
    2. NCIC Purpose Code X check on all adults in the home.
  5. A child may not be placed in the home if any adult in the household has a disqualifying event from the DSHS Secretary's List of Crimes and Negative Actions http://dshs.wa.gov/bccu/bccucrimeslist.shtml
  6. When a placement is made, CA staff must ensure the following documents are submitted to BCCU within 10 calendar days of the NCIC Purpose Code X check:
    1. Background Authorization Form (DSHS 09-653)
    2. Fingerprints
  7. The child must not remain in the home if fingerprints are not submitted or any adult in the home refuses to be fingerprinted.
  8. The reason or circumstances why the fingerprints were not completed must be documented in FamLink Provider Notes
  9. The emergent unlicensed placement is not considered final until all background check requirements results have been completed and all other assessments for character, competence and suitability have been completed, including the Relative Home Study.
  10. Results of an NCIC Purpose Code X check for emergent unlicensed placements cannot be used for CPS investigation (Purpose Code C) (see procedures for NCIC Checks for CPS Investigations, Purpose Code C).
  11. Requests for NCIC database access information are not permitted for any reason other than an emergent placement with an unlicensed caregiver (Purpose Code X) or CPS investigation (Purpose Code C).
  12. Social workers will ensure documentation of the date and results of an NCIC Purpose Code X check on each person in the FamLink Person Management page is completed within 3 calendar days of the NCIC request, using the following notations as applicable:
    • No hits/no record; or
    • No disqualifier; or
    • Five year disqualifier; or
    • Permanent disqualifier
  13. Information from NCIC Purpose Code X checks and summary forms may not be printed out, placed in case files, or shared with parties outside of DSHS.

5518. NCIC Checks for CPS Investigations - Purpose Code C

CA is authorized to access the NCIC database for subjects of CPS investigations and other adults related to the investigations. The Purpose Code C check allows the social worker to assess the safety of children in the home and the safety of CA staff conducting the investigation. Requests for NCIC checks for CPS investigations are made in accordance with state and federal laws. (RCW 26.44.030 and PL 109-248). Purpose Code C checks are based on name and date-of-birth information and are a point in time check. Purpose Code C checks are not required and are completed at the discretion of the investigating social worker.

  1. NCIC requests for CPS investigation purposes are conducted under NCIC Purpose Code C.
  2. NCIC checks for CPS investigations will be conducted by the NCIC Unit staff at the request of a CPS investigator or supervisor.
  3. NCIC Unit staff will complete a Criminal History Summary Form and provide results of the Purpose Code C check to the requesting social worker.
  4. If the social worker determines that a Purpose Code C check is needed, they will ensure documentation of the date and results of the check on each person in the FamLink Person Management page within 72 hours of the NCIC request is completed, using the following notations as applicable:
    1. No hits/no record; or
    2. No disqualifier; or
    3. Criminal history found; or
    4. Conviction history found
  5. If necessary, (e.g. due to multiple people with the same common name and date-of-birth), the CPS investigator may follow up with a request for a fingerprint based criminal history check processed by BCCU.
  6. Results of NCIC Purpose Code C checks for CPS investigations cannot be used for NCIC Purpose Code X placement purposes.
  7. Requests for NCIC database access information are not permitted for any reason other than an emergent placement with an unlicensed caregiver (Purpose Code X) or CPS investigation (Purpose Code C).
  8. Information from NCIC Purpose Code C checks and summary forms may not be printed out, placed in case files, or shared with parties outside of DSHS.

5519. Expedited Washington State Background Checks

Washington State criminal history background checks may be expedited through BCCU as approved by the Area Administrator for the following purposes:

  1. When a non-emergent placement move to a relative or other suitable person is determined to be in the best interest of a child and fingerprints have been submitted to BCCU and not yet received also known as urgent unlicensed placement.
  2. To assess authorization of persons 16 years and older to have unsupervised access to children to facilitate a service or safety plan.
  3. To assess youth 16 and 17 years of age living in a home seeking approval for emergency placement.

5520. Background Check Documentation

  1. CA staff will document the following background check information as required in the FamLink Case or Provider Person Management page, Background Check tab:
    • FamLink CA/N history
    • Out-of-State CA/N history. in a Service Episode Record (SER).
    • Washington State Background Check (BCCU)
    • National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Purpose Code X and C search
    • Fingerprints
    • Administrative Review Request for Crime and/or Negative Action (DSHS 15-367)

    * See FamLink Background Check Reference table for additional guidance

  2. Background check request forms, result letters, and rap sheets are to be stored in the caregiver's file.
  3. NCIC Access unit will provide view only summary forms. The NCIC summary forms will be purged 30 days from the request date.

5521. Information Sharing

  1. All information received from the FBI or WSP is authorized for use by CA only for the purpose for which it was obtained; it cannot be used as documentation for other programs or administrations.
  2. If there is a disqualifying event identified by the BCCU and/or the fingerprint check, CA staff must notify the individual of the disqualification in writing within 10 days after receipt of the information.
  3. CA staff may provide a copy of conviction information from fingerprint results, e.g., "rap sheets," to the individual named in the inquiry, if the individual provides a request in writing along with proof of identity. A copy may also be obtained from the WSP. (WAC 388-06-0260)
  4. CA staff must not disclose unfounded or inconclusive findings and related reports of child abuse or neglect as defined in RCW 26.44.020 to a child placing agency, a private adoption agency, or any other provider licensed under chapter 74.15 RCW.

5522. Evaluation and Disposition

CA staff must not license or authorize persons to provide care who has been convicted of or have charges pending for offenses (within the designated time frames) identified in the DSHS Secretary's List of Disqualifying Crimes.

For a list of disqualifying crimes and negative actions, click on the following link:

DSHS Secretary List of Disqualifying Crimes and Negative Actions

CA Reference info - DSHS Secretary's List of Disqualifying Crimes & Negative Actions

  1. No Record of Crime or Negative Action: If the background check reveals no criminal convictions, no founded finding of CA/N, no pending charges or no other negative actions, no further action is necessary.
  2. Record of a conviction for a disqualifying crime or founded finding of CA/N: The social worker/licensor is required to deny the license or authorization to have unsupervised access to children, if the background check reveals the individual is/has:
    1. Convicted of a felony offense identified as a permanent disqualifying event, or
    2. Convicted of a crime identified as a 5 year disqualifying event and it is less than 5 years since conviction, or
    3. Convicted of an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, or
    4. Pending charges for any of the above, or
    5. Founded finding of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment of a vulnerable adult, juvenile or child.
  3. Record of non-disqualifying offense or other negative action, including charges pending longer than one year: requires documentation of Administrative Review, including but not limited to scrutiny of the following factors:
    1. Amount of time since the conviction/negative action
    2. Seriousness of the crime/behavior that led to the conviction/negative action
    3. Number and types of other convictions/negative actions
    4. Age at time of incident
    5. Documentation of successful completion of court-ordered programs and restitutions
    6. Behavior since the conviction/negative action
    7. Vulnerability of child(ren) for whom the individual is authorized unsupervised contact

5523. Review and Decision-Making

  1. Prior to making a decision to authorize unsupervised access to children or an individual with developmental disabilities, the social worker/licensor/contract manager is required to review and scrutinize identified convictions.
  2. The decision-making request and result is to be documented in the client and/or provider file and electronically in the FamLink Person Management page for the individual.
  3. In rare circumstances, an administrative approval or waiver may be granted to authorize an exception for a person with a disqualifying crime or negative action.
    1. The requesting social worker/licensor/contract manager must first determine that allowing the individual unsupervised access to a child will not jeopardize the child's health and safety.
    2. Requests for an administrative review require written authorization using the statewide "Administrative Review Request for Crime and/or Negative Actions" (DSHS Form 15-367)
    3. Requests for Administrative Review are to be submitted according to the following parameters:
      1. Once for each disqualifying crime, set of crimes, and/or negative action for each unlicensed placement. Requests are to be child(ren) specific
      2. At the time of licensing
      3. When a substantial change in circumstances occur, such as a subsequent arrest, conviction, CPS or Licensing referral, etc.
      4. Requests that are denied may be re-submitted when new information or a substantial change in circumstances occur, such as the age of the child/youth, recommendations from a professional, evaluation results, significant progress achieved, etc
  4. Children's Administration cannot claim IV-E or adoption support funds for any child placed in the home with a disqualifying crime on the Permanent List or the 5 Year List and it is less than 5 years since conviction, during the life of an approved Administrative Review.
  5. Social workers/licensers/contract manager will document one or more of the following notations, as applicable, for each Administrative Review requested and granted in the FamLink Person Management page within three calendar days of action and/or receipt of information. Additional information is to be documented in case/provider notes.
    • Administrative Review: Requested
    • Administrative Review: Approved and/or Denied along with specific crime(s)/negative action approved
  6. Overview of Approval Process for Crimes & Negative Actions
    Criminal Conviction and/or Negative Action Authorization Provided By
    Permanent disqualifying crime*

    Children's Administration Assistant Secretary

    Send Request to Director of Field Operations

    Five year disqualifying crime and less than five years since conviction* Regional Administrator / DLR Administrator or Deputy Administrator

    Finding of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment of a vulnerable adult, juvenile or child *

    This includes court findings of child abuse or neglect. For example, an established "B" dependency.

    Regional Administrator / DLR Administrator or Deputy Administrator
    Five year disqualifying crime and more than five years since conviction Regional Administrator / DLR Administrator or Deputy Administrator
    Other Types of Negative Actions, including:
    • Termination, revocation, suspension, or denial of a license, certification, and/or State or Federal contract.
    • Relinquishment of a license, certification, or contract in lieu of an agency negative action.
    • Revocation, suspension, denial or restriction placed on a professional license.
    • Department of Health disciplining authority findings.
    Regional Administrator / DLR Administrator or Deputy Administrator
    Crimes not on permanent or five year list, limited to:
    • A crime against a person (Non-violent property, financial crimes, hunting, fishing, wildlife and animal related crimes or violations are excluded).
    • A drug/alcohol related crime.
    Area Administrator

    Any other crime not on the permanent or five year list (e.g., Non-violent property, financial crimes, hunting, fishing, wildlife and animal related crimes or violations) are reviewed with the social worker's supervisor and approval or denial documented in the background check tab in FamLink on the Person Management Page within in three calendar days of the decision.

    *Children's Administration cannot claim IV-E or adoption support funds for any child placed in the home during the life of this approval.