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



4110. Developing And Ongoing Case Planning

  1. The case plan is developed by the agency legally responsible for custody and supervision of the child.
    1. The department may conduct ongoing case planning and consultation with those persons or agencies required to report CA/N, with consultants designated by the department, and with designated representatives of Washington Indian Tribes if the client information exchanged is pertinent to cases currently receiving CPS or department case services for the developmentally disabled.
    2. Upon request, the department shall conduct such planning and consultation with those persons required to report CA/N if the department determines it is in the best interest of the child or disabled person.
    3. The department shall consult with the care provider regarding the child's case plan. As an integral part of the foster care team, foster parents shall, if appropriate and they desire to, participate in the service plan of the child and the child's family. RCW 13.34.120; RCW 26.44.030; RCW 74.13.280; RCW 74.13.330
  2. If the child is dependent pursuant to a proceeding under chapter 13.34 RCW, the department or agency shall keep the care provider informed regarding the dates and location of dependency review and permanency planning hearings pertaining to the child. RCW 74.13.280

4120. Confidentiality

  1. Except as provided in RCW 70.24.105 regarding confidentiality and HIV information DCFS and child placing agencies shall share information about the child and the child's family with out-of-home care providers regarding developing, monitoring, and revising a child's case plan. Upon any placement, the department of social and health services shall inform each out-of-home provider if the child to be placed in that provider’s care is infected with a blood-borne pathogen for which the child was tested if known by the department. These providers include foster parents, relative care providers, and group home staff. RCW 26.44.030; RCW 74.13.280
    1. A CA social worker, a child placing agency worker, or a guardian ad litem who is responsible for making or reviewing placement case-planning decisions or recommendations to the court regarding a child, who is less than 14 years of age, has a sexually transmitted disease, and is in the custody of the department or a licensed child placing agency may receive information regarding the child, diagnosis, or treatment relating to HIV infection or any other confirmed sexually transmitted disease.
    2. The social worker or medical provider may also provide information regarding HIV or sexually transmitted diseases of the child less than 14 years of age to a person responsible for providing residential care for such a child when the department or a licensed child placing agency determines that it is necessary for the provision of child care services. RCW 70.24.105
  2. If the department conducts case planning and consultation upon the request of a mandated reporter, information considered privileged by statute and not directly related to reports required by RCW 26.44.030 shall not be divulged without a valid written waiver of the privilege, except under conditions described below.
  3. Whenever information is shared with a child's out-of-home care provider, all persons receiving such information shall keep the information confidential and not disclose or disseminate the information except as authorized by law. RCW 26.44.030; RCW 74.13.280
  4. Consistent with the provisions of chapter 42.17 RCW and applicable federal law, the department shall disclose information regarding the abuse, neglect, or near fatality (see Appendix A for the definition) of a child, the investigation of the abuse or neglect, and any services related to the abuse or neglect of a child if any one of the following factors is present:
    1. The subject of the report has been charged in an accusatory instrument with committing a crime related to a report maintained by the department in FamLink;
    2. The investigation of the abuse or neglect of the child by the department or the provision of services by the department has been publicly disclosed in a report required to be disclosed in the course of their official duties, by a law enforcement agency or official, a prosecuting attorney, any other state or local investigative agency or official, or by a judge of the superior court;
    3. There has been a prior knowing, voluntary public disclosure by an individual concerning a report of child abuse or neglect in which such individual is named as the subject of the report; or
    4. The child named in the report has died and the child's death resulted from abuse or neglect or the child was in the care of, or receiving services from, the department at the time of death or within 12 months before death. RCW 74.13.500
  5. The department is not required to disclose information if the factors in paragraph D above are present or if the department specifically determines the disclosure is contrary to the best interests of the child, the child’s siblings, or other children in the household. RCW 74.13.500
  6. Except for cases in paragraph (D.4.) above, requests for information under this section shall specifically identify the case about which information is sought and the facts that support a determination that one of the factors specified in paragraph D is present. RCW 74.13.500
  7. For purposes of paragraphs D. E. and F. above, the following information shall be disclosable:
    1. The name of the abused or neglected child;
    2. The determination made by the department of the referrals, if any, for abuse or neglect;
    3. Identification of child protective or other services provided or actions, if any, taken regarding the child named in the report and his or her family as a result of any such report or reports. These records include but are not limited to administrative reports of fatality, fatality review reports, case files, inspection reports, and reports relating to social work practice issues; and
    4. Any actions taken by the department in response to reports of abuse or neglect of the child. RCW 74.13.505
  8. In determining under paragraphs D. E. and F. above, whether disclosure will be contrary to the best interests of the child, the department must consider the effects which disclosure may have on efforts to reunite and provide services to the family. RCW 74.13.510
  9. For purposes of paragraph D.4. above, the department must make the fullest possible disclosure consistent with chapter 42.17 RCW and applicable federal law in cases of all fatalities of children who were in the care of, or receiving services from, the department at the time of their death or within 12 months previous to the death.
    1. If the department specifically determines that disclosure of the name of the deceased child is contrary to the best interests of the child's siblings or other children in the household, the department may remove personally identifying information.
    2. For the purposes of this paragraph, “personally identifying information” means the name, street address, Social Security number, and day of birth of the child who died and of private persons who are relatives of the child in the child welfare records. “Personally identifying information” shall not include the month or year of birth of the child who has died. Once this personally identifying information is removed, the remainder of the records pertaining to a child who has died must be released regardless of whether the remaining facts in the records are embarrassing to the unidentifiable other private parties or to identifiable public workers who handled the case. RCW 74.13.515
  10. Except as it applies directly to the cause of the abuse or neglect of the child and any actions taken by the department in response to the reports of abuse or neglect of the child, nothing in paragraphs D through I of this section is deemed to authorize the release or disclosure of the substance or content of any psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical, or medical reports, evaluations, or like materials, or information pertaining to the child or the child's family. RCW 74.13.520
  11. The department, when acting in good faith, is immune from any criminal or civil liability, except as provided under RCW 42.17.340, for the purposes of paragraphs D through I of this section. RCW 74.13.525
  12. The department shall:
    1. Allow the Child and Family Services Ombudsman or the ombudsman's designee to communicate privately with any child in the custody of the department for the purposes of carrying out its duties under chapter 43.06A RCW;
    2. Permit the ombudsman or the ombudsman's designee physical access to state institutions serving children and state licensed facilities or residences for the purpose of carrying out its duties under this chapter;
    3. Upon the ombudsman’s request, grant the ombudsman or the ombudsman's designee the right to access, inspect, and copy all relevant information, records, or documents in the possession or control of the department that the ombudsman considers necessary in an investigation; and
    4. Grant the Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman unrestricted on-line access to the Case and Management Information System (CAMIS) for the purpose of carrying out its duties under chapter 43.06A RCW. RCW 43.06A.100

4140. Information Sharing

In order to facilitate communication of information needed to serve the best interest of any child who is the subject of a dependency case filed under this chapter, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) shall, consistent with state and federal law governing the release of confidential information, establish guidelines, and shall use those guidelines for the facilitation of communication of relevant information among divisions, providers, the courts, the family, caregivers, caseworkers, and others. RCW 13.34 and RCW 26.44


4210. Written Case Plans

4211. Court-Involved Cases

Written case plans for court-involved cases shall include:

  1. The child's name, age, date of birth, ethnicity, and primary language.
  2. The parents' name, ethnicity, and primary languages.
  3. A description of all reasonable efforts that have or are being made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the home.
  4. A statement of the specific harms to the child that the interventions are designed to alleviate.
  5. A description of the risk assessment completed as a result of any child abuse investigation.
  6. A discussion of why, without services, the child would be a candidate for out-of-home placement.
  7. A description of the specific programs for both the parents and the child that are needed in order to prevent serious harm to the child. The description shall identify services chosen and approved by the parent.
  8. The reasons such programs are likely to be useful.
  9. A discussion of how the services offered are culturally appropriate.
  10. The availability of any proposed services.
  11. The agency's plan for ensuring that the services will be delivered.
  12. A description of the time frames and goals for each service intervention provided.
  13. Behavior that will be expected before determination that supervision of the family will no longer be necessary. RCW 13.34.145; RCW 74.14A.025; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475

Written case plans for court-involved cases when a new placement or change in placement is recommended shall include:

Copies of all related supporting documents relevant to the recommendation, opinion or assertion by the department. A summary document* may be prepared by the individual provider. The documentation attached should include only relevant documents and does not need to include the entire history. Relevant documents include:
  1. Substance abuse treatment;
  2. Mental health treatment;
  3. Anger management classes;
  4. Domestic Violence classes;
  5. Visitation with a child;
  6. Psychological status of a person;
  7. Physicians report documenting injuries to a child;
  8. Home study;
  9. Licensing action; or
  10. Background check information.

*A summary document may only be completed by the individual provider making the recommendation or assertion. A summary document is not completed by the social worker.

4212. Additional Considerations for Recommendation to Remove the Child From Their Home

A description of why the child cannot be adequately protected at home.

  1. The in-home services considered and why they have been rejected as options.
  2. The preventive services that have been offered or provided and have failed to prevent the need for out-of-home placement, unless the health, safety, and welfare of the child cannot be protected adequately in the home. RCW 13.34.145
  3. The parent's attitude towards placement of the child.
  4. A statement of the likely harms that the child will suffer as a result of removal from the home.
  5. A description of the nature of the parent-child attachment and the meaning of separation and loss to the parent and the child.
  6. A description of steps that will be taken to minimize harms caused by placement to the child.
  7. A description of behaviors expected before DCFS determines that supervision or placement is no longer necessary. RCW 13.34.138

4213. Additional Information if the Child Has Been Removed From Their Home

If removal of the child from the home has occurred, the case plan shall also include:

  1. A description of the type of home or institution in which the child is placed. 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  2. A discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the placement. 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  3. A discussion of why the type of placement selected is the closest proximity to the parent’s home that meets the special needs of the child. RCW 13.34.136
  4. A description of the biological parents' wishes regarding the characteristics of the type of home selected. RCW 13.34.260 42 USC 675, Sect. 475
  5. A discussion of how the placement is the least restrictive (most family like) placement available to meet the special needs of the child. RCW 74.14A.020; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  6. Assurances that the child's placement in any particular foster care setting takes into account the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement. 42 USC 675, Sect. 475
  7. . A description of the long-term permanent plan for the child. RCW 13.34.136
  8. A description of how the supervising agency intends to carry out judicial determinations. RCW 13.34.136; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  9. A description of how the agency will attempt to ensure the child receives safe and proper care. RCW 13.34.136; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.14A.025; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475 RCW 13.34.136; RCW 13.34.130; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  10. A description of how all services provided to parent, child, and foster parents will facilitate the timely, safe return of the child to the home of the parents. RCW 13.34.136; RCW 13.34.130; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  11. A discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the services provided to the child while in care to meet the special needs of the child. Children removed from their home must be screened for multiple needs if they are expected to remain in care beyond 30 days. Any needs of the child identified in the screening process need to be addressed. 42 USC 671A
  12. In the case of a child who has attained age 16, a discussion of the services needed to assist the child to prepare for or make the transition from foster care to independent living. 42 USC 671A; RCW 13.34.; RCW 13.34.145
  13. A discussion of what progress and compliance with the case plan has been made. RCW 13.34.136
  14. A description of the visitation plan between the child and parents. RCW 13.34.136
  15. A list of dates the parent was notified of changes in the placement or visitation plan. RCW 13.34.136
  16. A list of the requirements the parents must complete before resuming custody of the child. RCW 13.34.136
  17. A list of the health providers for the child, the school the child is attending and any special health or educational needs of the child, including descriptions of any medications taken by the child, and the child's immunization records. 42 USC 675, Sec. 475
  18. A list of the steps that need to be taken before the permanency plan is completed. RCW 13.34.136
  19. The expected completion date for the permanent plan. RCW 13.34.136

4220. Dissemination of Case Plans

The written case plan is provided to all parents whose location is known. RCW 13.34.120

4230. Out-of-Home Case Plans

  1. The case plan shall be updated at six (6) months from the current placement episode date. 42 USC 675, Section 475
  2. The Health and Education section of the written case plan is provided to all out-of-home care providers at the time of each new placement and is sent to the provider following six (6) month updates of the case plan. RCW 74.13.280; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475


FRS shall be designed to develop skills and supports within families to resolve family conflicts and may include, but are not limited to, referral to services for suicide prevention, psychiatric or other medical care, or psychological, mental health, drug or alcohol treatment, welfare, legal, educational, or other social services, as appropriate to the needs of the child and the family, and training in parenting, conflict management, and dispute resolution skills. RCW 13.32A.040


4410. Case Plans

  1. CA or the agency responsible for supervising a child in out-of-home care, shall conduct a social study whenever a child is placed in out-of-home care under the supervision of the department or other agency. The study shall be conducted prior to placement, or, if it is not feasible to conduct the study prior to placement due to the circumstances of the case, the study shall be conducted as soon as possible following placement.
  2. The social study shall include, but not be limited to, an assessment of the following factors:
    1. The safety of the child;
    2. The physical and emotional strengths and needs of the child to include all identified needs resulting from a screening within 30 days of placement;
    3. The proximity of the child's placement to the child's family to aid reunification;
    4. The possibility of placement with the child's relatives or extended family;
    5. The racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious background of the child;
    6. The least restrictive, safe, and most family-like placement reasonably available and capable of meeting the child's needs; and
    7. Compliance with RCW 13.34.260 regarding parental preferences for placement of their children. RCW 74.13.065; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475

4420. Placement Planning

  1. To provide stability to children in out-of-home care, placement selection shall be made with a view toward safety and the fewest possible placements for the child. If possible, the initial placement shall be viewed as the only placement for the child. The use of short-term interim placements of thirty (30) days or less, to protect the child's health or safety while the placement of choice is being arranged, is not a violation of this principle. RCW 74.13.290; 42 USC 675, Sec. 475.
  2. The department may purchase care for children and shall follow in general the policy of using properly approved private agency services for the actual care and supervision of such children insofar as they are available. CA shall coordinate placement planning with private agencies. RCW 74.13.031; RCW 74.13.300

4422. Most Family-Like Setting

When out-of-home placement is necessary, children will be placed in the most family-like setting which also meets their needs. The following placement resources are ranked in order from least restrictive (most family-like) to most restrictive (least family-like):

  1. Child's biological or adoptive parents.
  2. Relative placement, including any blood relative, including those of half blood, and including first cousins, second cousins, nephews, nieces, and persons of preceding generations as denoted by prefixes of grand, great, or great-great; stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, and stepsister; brother, sister, uncle or aunt; a person who legally adopts child or the child's parent as well as the natural and other legally adopted children of such persons, and other relatives of the adoptive parents in accordance with state law; spouses of any persons named herein, even if the marriage is terminated; and relatives of any "relative" named above of any half sibling of the child. The proposed placement must be a person with whom the child has a relationship and is comfortable, and who is willing and available to care for the child.
  3. Other suitable persons who have a pre-existing relationship with the child or family.
  4. Institutional care (medical hospitals, mental health institutions, residential habilitation centers). RCW 13.32A.030; RCW 13.34.130; RCW 74.15.020(4)
  5. For Indian children, as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act, relatives include extended family members, as defined by law or custom of the child's tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, a person who has reached the age of 18 and who is child's grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, or stepparent who provides care in the family abode on a 24-hour basis to a Native American/Indian child as defined in 25 USC Section 1903(4). RCW 74.15.020(4)

4423. Relative Placement, Parental Preference, Relative Search, Relative, Notification, and Documentation

When out-of-home placement services are necessary:

  1. Relative Placement

    CA will give preference to placement of the child at shelter care and at disposition with a relative as defined above. Unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the safety or welfare of the child would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child would be hindered, children shall be placed with relatives. RCW 13.34.060

  2. Parental Preference/Parental Placement Wishes

    CA staff shall, absent good cause, follow the wishes of the parent regarding the placement of the child. Preferences such as family constellation and religion shall be considered when matching children to foster homes. Unless a compelling reason is identified, a child shall not be required to be placed in a home of an identified ethnicity except when the Indian Child Welfare Act guides placement preferences. Parental authority is appropriate in areas that are not connected with the abuse or neglect that resulted in the dependency and shall be integrated through the foster care team RCW 13.34.260; 42 USC 671a.

  3. Relative Search, Relative Notification, and Documentation

    Relative searches require social workers to exercise "due diligence" to identify and provide notification to all grandparents and all adult relatives within 30 days after the child's removal from the custody of the birth parents. Exceptions may be made due to family or domestic violence. The reason for the exception shall be documented in FamLink

    Relative search, relative notification and parental placement wishes require social workers to document all information in FamLink on the Relative Search screen.

    See chapter 5000, section 5750, for requirements to place children needing shelter care with relatives. RCW 13.34.130

4425. Cultural Needs of Child and Family

  1. CA will attempt to select placements that meet the cultural needs of the child and family. Services include:
  2. Training culturally competent foster parents.
  3. Providing interpreters and communication services such as sign language translators for LEP clients.
  4. Selecting culturally responsive home-based and community services.
  5. Providing reasonable foster care maintenance payments. RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.13.031; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.13.250; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.13.310; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.14A.025; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.14B.020

4426. Placement Documentation

  1. CA shall document efforts to place the child with a family best able to meet the child's unique needs, considering the factors listed above. RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.14A.025
  2. CA shall document efforts to place the child with a relative, describing if particular relative placements would be detrimental or if relatives are not available. RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 74.15.020
  3. For a child whose permanency plan is adoption or placement in another permanent home, the department must document steps it is taking to find an adoptive family or other permanent living arrangement for the child. The department also must document steps it is taking to place the child with:
    1. A fit and willing relative;
    2. An adoptive family;
    3. A legal guardian; or
    4. Another planned permanent living arrangement; and
    5. To finalize the adoption or legal guardianship. 42 USC 675 Sec. 475

    When the case plan goal is adoption, at a minimum documentation shall include child-specific recruitment efforts, such as the use of state, regional and national adoption exchanges, including electronic exchange systems to facilitate orderly and timely in-state and interstate placements. 42 USC 675, Sec. 475


  1. When making an adoptive or out-of-home placement decision, the emphasis must be placed on the best interest of the child, taking into account the particular child, parents, and circumstances. RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 26.33.010
  2. An adoption or out-of-home placement shall not be delayed or denied on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent or the child involved. This provision does not apply to nor affect the Indian Child WelfareAct of 1978, 25 USC, Section 1901 et seq. 42 USC 671a; RCW 74.14A.020; RCW 26.33.010
  3. The department shall consider giving preference to an adult relative over a non-related caregiver when determining a placement for a child, provided that the relative caregiver meets all relevant state child protection standards. 42 USC 471
  4. CA shall not deny or delay the placement of the child for adoption when an approved family is available outside the jurisdiction or office with responsibility for handling the case of the child. 42 USC 671a
  5. CA shall grant an opportunity for a fair hearing to an individual who alleges that the state has denied or delayed the placement of a child contrary to the requirements of paragraph B or D above. 42 USC 671a