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



State law requires that CA maintain records for services to children and their families as well as for licensed or approved providers and for persons who apply and are subsequently denied licensure or approval for service. RCW 13.34.130; RCW 13.50.010; RCW 26.33.330; RCW 26.44.030

CA will maintain these records in two formats:

  • Automated format in the State of Washington's State Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) called FamLink.
  • Paper records linked to cases in the FamLink system.

The following table identifies tasks and procedures to be completed in FamLink and staff responsible for their completion. The table will be updated as needed to reflect changes in FamLink.

13101. Case Management Responsibilities

1. Searching statewide for information on clients/providers All
2. Document all information received by the department Intake Staff
3. Assign case numbers Intake Supervisor
4. Assign cases Masterfiles Clerk or Other Clerical
5. Update case status Supervisors & clerical
6. Enter record location status Masterfiles Clerk & clerical
7. Maintain current data regarding ethnicity, language, name, social security number (for children in placement), and legal residential address Social Worker
8. Complete SSI eligibility records SSI Facilitators, program managers, support staff
9. Complete Title IV-E records Eligibility Specialists
10. Complete Title XIX records Eligibility Specialist
11. Create and update provider cases

13102. Documentation in FamLink

Social workers must document all case activity in FamLink within 10 days of the date of the event or activity. All hand written notes must be discarded after the information has been entered into a FamLink. CA Management Team can provide exceptions to this requirement on specific pieces of work within the system.

13103. No Personal Files

Social workers must not maintain "personal" files containing case information. Workers must maintain all case related information in the Department's official case file.


13201. Initiating A Case Record

  1. All Children's Administration (CA) cases are:
    • assigned a unique case number, generated by FamLink, and
    • are "family based cases" with the exception of legally free, and adoption support cases.
  2. CA has three types of cases
  3. :
    • Family Case - The intake supervisor (Field or Central Intake) reviews each intake, determine if information is on an existing case in FamLink and either links or creates a new case.
    • Legally Free Case - When a child becomes legally free, the child is deactivated from the family case for the reason of "legally free". FamLink automatically creates a new Legally Free case for that specific child. A legally free case has only one participant and is created without a new intake.
    • Adoption Support Case - After adoption finalization, an adoption support case is created through the Legally Free Case, from the options menu in FamLink. The legally free case should be closed as soon as all work is completed on it. This closed case becomes a restricted case in FamLink. The adoption support case becomes a "sealed" case, meaning it will only show in search results to those with secured adoption support security.
  4. If an adopted child is an alleged victim of abuse or neglect in their adoptive home or if non-adoption support services are requested, a new intake must be created in FamLink and a new family case should be created under the adoptive parents (separate from the adoption support case).

13205. Creation of an Interstate Compact PC (ICPC) Case

CA intake must complete a Non-CPS intake and create a case when a request is made to place a child in Washington State. This is a family based case, and has only one participant. The placement resource is added to the case when placement is approved.

13210. Record Establishment

Case records are created in the local offices for the following screened-in intakes:

  1. Child Protective Services (CPS)
  2. Family Voluntary Services (FVS)
  3. Family Reconciliation Services (FRS)
  4. Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS)
  5. Adoptions
  6. Child Day Care Services
  7. Foster Home/Private Agency Licensing
  8. Intra and Interstate Home studies
  9. Federal Funding

13232. Definitions

For definitions relating to case file make-up, see Appendix A, DEFINITIONS.


All DCFS paper records are to be constructed with the following sections as described in procedures below. The DCFS physical record contains separate sections placed in a binder in the following order: All information in the binder is to be filed in chronological order.

  1. Family Assessment Information
  2. Case Activities
  3. Placement and Legal
  4. Privileged Communication
  5. Child Health and Safety
  6. Family Background
  7. Indian Child Welfare
  8. Service Reports and Correspondence
  9. Correspondence
  10. Reports, Staffings, Visits
  11. Payment
  12. Other
  13. Audio Recording
  14. Federal Revenue

13400. Constructing Licensing (i.e., DLR) Records

All licensed facilitates and homes will have hard copy files with standard sections to facilitate consistency and orderliness of files. The licenser maintains a separate file license for every agency. See section 13700 for information relating to disclose of information in licensing file.

  1. All foster home licensing records are to be constructed using six (6) sections with the following sections:
  2. Section A - Licenses, Applications and Related Documents
    Section B - Provider Notes
    Section C - Personnel Documentation
    Section D - Compliance and Corrective Actions
    Section E - Application attachments and Inspection Reports
    Section F - Miscellaneous Correspondence, Financial and Training

  3. A file is to be constructed for each home/program license issued.
  4. All file documents are to be filed in reverse chronology, with the most current document at the top of the file.
  5. All documents are to be attached to the folder.

13401. Section A - License, Application and Related Documents

This section contain the following materials in the order outlined:
  1. LEP/ASLA Form, DSHS 15-245(x) if applicable
  2. A signed copy of the current license and cover letter
  3. The most recent application form followed by prior applications. Attachments to the application are filed in Section E.
  4. Exceptions, Requests, Licensing Administrative Approvals
  5. Waivers

13402. Section B - Provider Notes

This section contains:

  1. On going narrative regarding contacts, problems, changes made in the home or facility and other information, including renewal assessments.
  2. The home study and autobiography is placed in this section, chronologically within the notes.
  3. Provider notes are put in chronological order with the most current on top.

13403. Section C - Personnel Documentation

This section includes documentation related to licensee personnel, including:

  1. References for the applicant/licensee and staff
  2. Resumes
  3. Medical statements
  4. Professional evaluations
  5. Criminal history clearance documents - including criminal history waivers and administrative review request form for crime and/or negative action approvals

13404. Section D - Complaints and Corrective Actions

This section contains documentation related to reports of incidents, including:

  1. Incident reports
  2. Complaints, Findings, Deficiencies, including copies of CPS and licensing allegations and results of investigations
  3. Conclusions and Corrective Actions
  4. Licensing Letters of Modification, Suspension, Denial, Revocation and Probationary licensing

13405. Section E - Application Attachments and Inspection Reports

This section includes items that accompany the application and other forms completed during the licensing process. The following are examples of documents appropriate for inclusion in this section:

  1. Discipline Policy, Evacuation Plan, Medical Plan, Statement on Region, Training Plan, Articles of Incorporation if applicable, Personnel Policies.
  2. Foster family homes only: Confidentiality Statement, Child Care Agreement, Public Disclosure information, verification of TB Test, copy of First Aid/CPR cards, documentation of attendance at HIV/AIDS classes and blood borne pathogen training.
  3. Fire inspection (if applicable), Health and Safety Inspection Reports (if applicable), and licensing checklists, and with the most current checklist placed at the beginning.

13406. Section F - Miscellaneous Correspondence, Financial, and Training

This section includes correspondence that does not properly fit into the other sections, e.g.:

  1. Payment forms (provider file requests, SSPS FAMLINK forms, respite payment forms, etc.)
  2. Documents that a licensee or the Department providers to verify training hours/classes.

13407. Adding Additional Record Volumes

Staff requests that clerical staff split foster home files into additional (volumes) when the contents exceed the space allowances of the folder (approximately 1 inch). Clerical staff labels the original folder "Volume 1" and assigns the next chronological number to each additional folder; e.g., "Volume 2, "Volume 3, etc.

13408. Licensed Agency Files

Group care files are to be organized by licensing periods. For small facilities, a file may contain more than one licensing period. New volumes start at renewal, with each section of the volume containing only licensure materials for the respective licensing period(s).

  1. File is organized into sections by dividers or tabs indicating the six (6) different sections.
  2. File Management:
    1. Group Care Licensing File contains core materials.
    2. Side files contain addendum materials attached with file
    3. Large documents may be attached in a side file, clearly labeled as to contents.
      1. Process is determined by regions
      2. Files may be filed by name of person or agency
      3. Location of materials identified in licensing file - Section A

13409. Section A

  • Current License and cover letters
  • Exception Requests
  • Administrative Approvals
  • Licensing Application forms and materials
    • Initial program description
    • May include initial agency policies/procedures
    • Agency policy manuals (may be on a disk stored in this Section)

13410. Section B

  • Provider Notes - print at time of licensing actions to reduce the overall size of the file.
  • Health and Safety information should be recorded in Provider Notes

13411. Section C

Agency Personnel Documentation
  • Resumes
  • References
  • Background Clearances on all personnel - including criminal history waivers and administrative approval request(s)
  • Personnel Logs

13412. Section D

  • Health and Safety Inspection checklist documentations
  • Facility Complaints/WAC infractions
  • Corrective Action and Resolutions - white and pink copy
  • Letters of Modification, Suspension, Denial, Revocation and Probationary actions

13413. Section E

  • Checklists and Supporting Documents
    • State Fire Marshal Inspections
    • Dept. of Health Inspections
  • Updated or additional policies and procedures

13414. Section F

Correspondence except correspondence related to complaints/infractions which will be in section D.


13501. ACES

When a case is opened or re-opened, clients are screened for eligibility or existing service through the Economic and Services Division, using their Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES).

  1. Clerical support staff check the eligibility status of clients who are the subject of intakes or requests, using the Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES).
  2. A "Name Inquiry" in ACES must be performed. ACES will show the most current TANF eligibility status for a family. Assigned staff takes the following steps:
    1. Select the desired name, and if the person is "HOH" (Head of Household) the first screen that comes up will be the "ADDR" (address) screen.
    2. To see which CSO is handling the case, place cursor on first digit of CSO # in upper left corner of screen and press [F1] for a list of all CSOs and their corresponding numbers.
    3. Access the DEM1 (Demographic 1) screen to verify client's social security number, birth date, and ethnicity.
    4. Use the [F1] key to access additional screens explaining Race Code and Living Arrangement Code indicated on this screen.
    5. To get this information for the other members of the Case Unit, first press the [F11] key to display the Client Pointer associated with each client in the Case Unit.

13502. Birth Certificates and Social Security Cards

  1. All records must have a copy of the dependent child's birth certificate and the dependent child's social security number.
  2. Birth certificates may be requested by logging on to the Public Health website at
  3. Social security cards may be obtained through the Social Security Administration at


  1. Electronic and paper files require restricted access for the following categories of personnel and their families: Children's Administration (CA) staff; Economic Services Administration (ESA) Division Early Learning (DEL); personnel covered by the Public Assistance Bargaining Agreement; High Profile Cases; and other defined circumstances.
  2. All information related to persons covered under this policy must be immediately secured both physically (in a locked file) and electronically.

13601. Creation of Restricted Records

  1. Restricted records will be created for:
    1. CA & DEL employee or their family members that are listed as a subject, victim, or client in a CPS, Risk Only or Non CPS intake; or in facility intakes/cases.
    2. Note: Definition of "family" for CA personnel means members of the household of any employee. Other relatives may be designated if the employee, social worker or client makes a written request and receives approval from the DCFS/DLR Deputy Administrator, DCFS/DLR Area Administrator or the HQ Appointing Authority.

    3. Any employee represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees or their family members are listed as a subject, victim or client in a CPS, Risk Only or Non CPS intake; or in facility intakes/cases.
    4. All other DSHS employees listed as a subject in a CPS or Risk Only intake.
    5. Legally Free Child's Case Record: Upon the Final Adoption Decree and archiving of a legally free child's case record, the child's pre-adoption record must be made Administrative restricted.
    6. High Profile Cases as designated by an Appointing Authority.

13602. Search in FamLink for Open Cases - New Employees

If a person is hired by Children's Administration or ESA/DEL, a person search through FamLink must be made. If the employee or a family member is currently in the FamLink system and falls under the criteria of section II, or is associated with a DLR or DEL license, the hiring supervisor must inform the employee that a file exists and has been secured.

13603. Responsibility for Designating Employees in FamLink

All Children's Administration employees must be designated as such in the person file of the FamLink database for purposes of possible creation of Restricted Files. Other DSHS employees may contact the DCFS Regional Administrator to request that their names be entered into the person file of the FamLink database and designated as CA employees. Appointing authorities must identify the person responsible for data entry.

13604. Access to Restricted Records

  1. Children's Administration (CA) staff must not access any person, case or intake information without a need to know. "Need to know" means that the information is necessary in the discharge of an employee's professional responsibilities (see Administrative Policies No. 18.64; No. 05.01; 15.10)
  2. Employees assigned to a case have access to restricted records associated with that case.
  3. The following persons have been identified as the "designated Security Group" and have access to all restricted records in FamLink:
    1. Assistant Secretary
    2. FOD, P&PI, & Practice Model Division Directors
    3. Regional Administrators & Deputy Regional Administrators
    4. HQ Risk Management (Deputy FOD Director, Supervisor Constituent Relations, & Practice Consultants)
    5. DLR HQ Program Managers
    6. Legislative Liaison
    7. Ombudsman Office
    8. CATS Service Desk
    9. Foster Care Medical Team Supervisor & Lead Worker (HRSA)
    10. HQ IV-E (One Lead)
    11. HQ Payment Specialist (One Lead)
    12. HQ ICPC Supervisor
    13. HQ Adoption Support Program Manager
    14. Foster Care Public Health Nurse Program Coordinator & PH Assistant
    15. Area Administrators
    16. Administrative Secretaries
    17. Regional Safety (CPS) Program Managers or Fatality Review Program Managers
    18. Intake Supervisors

13605. Designated Access

Anyone in the designated Security Group listed above in 13604, may designate an individual access to an open record. Once supervisors or area administrators have been given access to a restricted record they may designate further access through secondary case assignments.

13606. Access to Closed Restricted Records

Requests for information on closed restricted records may be obtained through a designated Security Group member listed above in 13604, with permission from the employee's supervisor or a CA manager/administrator in the employee's chain of command.

13607. Specific Denial of Access To Restricted Records

An individual may be denied access to a specific record on a case by case basis, based on Appointing Authority, DEL or DLR director approval. The individual may or may not have been associated with the license/case itself but the appointing authority, or director of DLR or DEL has determined there is a real, apparent, or potential conflict of interest per Administrative Policy 18.64 - Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees.

13608. Physical Location of Restricted Records

Open restricted paper records are to be kept in a locked drawer with the assigned social worker. Closed restricted paper records are to be kept in a locked file in the Master Files room.

13609. Who May Restrict A File

Files meeting the criteria for restriction may be restricted in FamLink by a supervisor or above.

13610. Justification for Restricting/Unrestricting Records

The following information must be documented immediately in a memo and filed in the record before the family face sheet, which includes:

  1. the name of the employee,
  2. where the employee works, and
  3. the justification for the need to restrict or unrestrict a record.

The file must be physically labeled "Restricted Record."

13611. Current List and Review of Restricted Records

A DCFS Regional Administrator, CA HQ Appointing Authority, DEL Field Manager or DLR Regional Administrator has final authority to resolve any disputes regarding administrative files.

13612. Ongoing Review of Qualifying Circumstances

If the qualifying circumstances no longer exist, restricted file status may be discontinued. Regions/division must develop and implement procedures to conduct periodic review and discontinued at least once annually.

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