Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
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Practices and Procedures Guide



The goal of Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) is to preserve, strengthen, and reconcile families in conflict.

The range of services provided is designed to help families find solutions to their conflicts by developing skills and supports to maintain the family unit. Service delivery begins with the least intensive, least intrusive intervention appropriate in the individual case circumstance.

Services are voluntary, family-focused, and rely on the family's participation. FRS is available at no cost to the family. Participation in FRS cannot be a condition on a family for dismissing a dependency or closing a CPS case. If appropriate, FRS services may be offered to families involved in other CA programs including CPS or CFWS.

FRS is comprised of two service categories:

  1. Assessment & Brief Intervention: Which are short-term interactions between Children's Administration (CA) staff and the family requesting services. The services are directed towards deescalating the immediate crisis, defining the goals of the family seeking services, and exploring options to meet those goals. When possible, the family's kinship and community support systems should be utilized.
  2. Contracted Counseling: When it is determined the family would benefit from services from CA beyond assessment and brief intervention, the social worker may offer the family contracted services based on unique needs of the family. Contracted counseling for FRS primarily consists of Crisis Family Invention and Functional Family Therapy.

There are two principal referral processes to access services within FRS.

  1. New referrals for service: Families may access FRS Assessment and Brief Intervention and Contracted Counseling through Intake, as defined in section 3200. Foster parents and adoptive families requesting help with their youth due to conflict or youth's high risk behavior may access Assessment & Brief Intervention and Contracted Counseling.
  2. Families currently being served by other CA programs may access FRS Contracted Counseling as defined below.
    • Families can be referred for this service based on their unique needs and the goals of the family regardless of program type (i.e. Child Protective Services, Family Voluntary Services, or Child and Family Welfare Services). A family does not need to be open to FRS in order to access FRS contracted counseling.
    • Foster parents requesting help with youth due to conflict or high risk behavior placed in their care may access FRS Contracted Counseling, through the social worker of the youth.
    • When FRS contracted counseling is provided for families open to CA services, the referring social worker maintains all case management responsibilities through the conclusion of service and section 2430, concerning service agreements, shall be followed for co-assignment with CPS.

3200. Requests for Family Reconciliation Services

CA intake staff must accept referrals for FRS Services:

  • From a youth age 12-17, caregivers (to include biological, custodial and noncustodial parents, guardians, and informal relative placements), law enforcement, CA staff, HOPE centers, crisis residential centers or a Tribal social worker when at least one of the following two occurs:.
  • At least one person in the family is voluntarily requesting services and he or she is requesting:
    • A family assessment for a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) or At Risk Youth (ARY) petition
    • Assistance for a family experiencing immediate family crisis due to conflict, or
    • Assistance for a family with a youth who is exhibiting high risk behaviors
  • A child is identified as a sexually exploited youth as defined in Appendix A.

CA intake staff will complete FRS service referrals within four hours of the request. Upon request, the intake worker provides information about the FRS program to parents and children.

The following situations are not appropriate for FRS Services:

  • Families seeking assistance with child custody issues, in such circumstances CA staff will refer parent(s) to family court for resolution of child custody issues.
  • CA intake staff have received information indicating there is reasonable cause to believe a child has suffered abuse or neglect, CA intake staff will follow the intake procedures (outlined in section 2220 Practices and Procedures Guide).

3300. FRS Assessment and Crisis Intervention

At anytime a social worker receives information indicating there is reasonable cause to believe a child has suffered abuse or neglect, the social worker will notify CA Intake staff.

3310. Response Time

The FRS social worker must attempt to contact the referent (youth or family) within 24 hours of receipt of the referral by intake, excluding weekends and holidays. The FRS social worker may make this initial contact by telephone.

3320. FRS Initial Engagement

FRS initial engagement with the person requesting service must be completed within five business days of receipt of the referral by CA. During initial engagement the FRS social worker will use the FRS Engagement Tool to attempt to de-escalate or reduce the family crisis and determine if further FRS services are needed.

Families eligible for continued FRS services are those where the crisis continues and the family is seeking a brief intervention to address conflict or reconciliation or is requesting a Family Assessment to file a CHINS or ARY petition.

FRS is intended for youth living with custodial parents or guardians. When resources are available, FRS may be provided to youth living with non custodial parents or other caregivers.

If a request for FRS is accepted from a non custodial parent or other caregiver, the social worker must first attempt to notify and involve the custodial parent(s) or guardian. If resources are not available to serve a non custodial parent or other caregiver, the FRS supervisor or designee must notify the youth or family within 24 hours, excluding weekends and holidays.

For cases involving requests for FRS services for a youth placed in a CRC, HOPE or Overnight Youth Shelter Program, the FRS social worker where the youth is placed must see the youth per Practice and Procedure 4534 - Crisis Residential Center (CRC) Program.

For youth missing from care that are referred by overnight shelters the social worker must:

  1. Notify Law Enforcement of youth's whereabouts per Practice and Procedures Guide 4550 Children Missing from Care
  2. Notify the youth's parents that a report has been received and the youth is currently safe and off the streets within 24 hours,
  3. Inform parents of services designed to resolve the conflict and accomplish reunification of the family.
  4. Make contact by telephone or other reasonable means.

For cases involving sexually exploited youth as defined in Appendix A, the FRS social worker must refer the youth and family to available services through the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy. The FRS social worker must explore filing a CHINS petition if applicable.

The social worker will document the information from the FRS Engagement Tool and outcome of the contact in the Service Episode Record (SER).

3330. Assessment and Brief Intervention

The social worker must meet with the family to:

  • Complete the Family Assessment
  • Continue brief crisis de-escalation
  • Develop and explore options to address identified risk factors

Family meetings must begin within 10 days and end within 40 days of initial engagement contact.

3340. Contracted Counseling

Based on the results of the FRS Engagement Tool or Family Assessment, families may be referred for services or short term out of home placement. The principal service available for FRS is Crisis Family Intervention and Functional Family Therapy. Other CA services can be accessed based on the family's need and the availability.

Social workers shall prioritize families requesting services with the highest level of family conflict or instability and the greatest amount of family participation with services. At a minimum, there must be a caregiver willing to participate.

Families must make a commitment to participate in counseling services and must not be currently receiving family counseling services through other agencies or practitioners.

3400. Completion of FRS Services

For all FRS cases that are expected to remain open 60 days or longer, the FRS social worker must comply with the monthly health and safety visit requirement outlined in the Practices and Procedures Chapter 4000 Section 4420.

FRS cases must be closed within 90 days of the initial date of the referral. A case may remain with the FRS for an additional 90 days, with supervisory approval when:

  • Contracted services continue
  • The Court has requested CA to monitor the CHINS for a non licensed placement,
  • The Court has ordered monitoring of the ARY

Document all activities and services in case notes.

3410. Inactive Status

Case Closure: The social worker must designate cases where services have ended but cannot be closed until documentation is completed as "Services Inactive/Paperwork Pending (S) Program Assignment for Social Worker or Supervisor."

The purpose of this worker assignment is to be able to track the workload involved in follow-up paperwork (Operations Manual 152022 (F)(4)).

The social worker must properly complete all forms and recordings in the management information system within 30 days of a decision to terminate services and close a case. The supervisor must review both the management information system and the hard-copy file folder for accuracy and completeness and must document the review before closure or transfer to another service.

3420. Youth Missing from Care within Washington Jurisdictions

Youth from other Washington jurisdictions may be held with proper legal authority in a CRC or other out-of-home care facility, but not longer than five days, until one of the following occurs:

  • CA Intake, juvenile court officer, or law enforcement contacts the legal custodian and arranges for transport home.
  • If the child is assigned to a CA social worker, CA Intake will contact the assigned social worker to arrange courtesy services and/or placement with the out-of-area local office, until the assigned social worker can arrange for the child to be transported home or to an appropriate placement.
  • If the child does not have an open case assignment, CA Intake will notify the local office in the area of the youth's legal residence.

3430. Out Of State Jurisdictions

Out-of-state runaway youths may be held with proper legal authority in a CRC, for up to five days, or other out-of-home care facility until one of the following occurs:
  • The CA social worker contacts the legal custodian to make arrangements for the youth's transportation to the youth's home.
  • If the youth is a dependent of another state, the CA social worker coordinates transportation arrangements with the proper authorities in that state.

3440. Documenting Information on Persons Caring for Runaways

CA intake must refer to Section 4550 Children Missing from Care when responding to reports of children missing from care. Unless the parents or youth request services, or the case is already open for service, the department's responsibility ends with the parent notification and offer of services.

3500. Crisis Residential Center (CRC) Program

See Chapter 4000 - Section 4534


A juvenile taken into custody, whether held in detention or released after the posting of a bond, can be released by the court to a responsible adult or CA under RCW 13.32A.060. See the CA Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 5000, section 5410.

If the court cannot locate a parent or responsible adult, or if CA does not agree to receive the youth, the court must immediately notify CA if the youth is released. CA is not obligated to accept the youth unless the youth is in the legal custody of CA.

When CA agrees to accept these youths, CA staff will conduct an assessment to determine if the youth can go home or needs to go into placement. The CA social worker will attempt to locate the parent and, if no serious CPS issues are present, return the child home. If the child is unable to return to the parent's home, CA staff will work with parents to find a relative or other adult with whom the parents will allow the child to reside.

CA does not have authority to transport nor place a child. If the parent is not available and/or does not agree to placement with another individual or the social worker needs to transport the youth, the worker must obtain documented legal authority - police custody, CHINS, or shelter care or dependency order - before transporting the youth or placing the youth in licensed care. If the youth runs from the CA waiting room after court staff has released the youth to CA, CA staff reports the youth as a runaway to local law enforcement or determines that court staff has submitted the runaway report.

Local CA offices have established agreements with juvenile court facilities regarding the release of a youth to CA. Staff needs to refer to these established protocols for specific regional/local procedures.


After reasonable efforts (which may include but are not limited to crisis counseling, CRC placement, IFPS, etc.) at resolving conflict have failed to achieve reconciliation, the parents, the youth, or CA may file a CHINS petition. See the CA Case Services Policy Manual, sections 5500- 5530 and section 7200, for references to the statute and relevant policy considerations for the social worker. The social worker must not utilize CHINS for protection issues or to resolve custody disputes.

The assigned CA social worker must complete a family assessment in accordance with RCW 13.32A.150 before the court may accept the filing of a CHINS petition by the youth or the youth's parents. The social worker must use the FRS Family Assessment to document the assessment.

CHINS placement is temporary out-of-home care designed to provide the family and the youth the opportunity to resolve conflict in those instances where temporarily separation is in the best interests of the youth and the family.

In accordance with RCW 13.32A.170, the person filing the petition must show that the person has tried to work out the conflict, that all reasonable alternatives have been explored, and that it is best for the youth to live outside the home while the family continues to work toward resolution of the conflict. If the court approves the out-of-home placement, the youth will normally live with a relative or in a licensed foster home.

Pre-Passport - If a youth is expected to remain in care beyond 30 days, the youth must be screened for needs using the standardized instruments.

3650. At-Risk Youth (ARY) Petition

The ARY petition has provisions that allow the court to order the youth home or into a placement of the parent's choosing and at the parent's expense. See the CA Case Services Policy Manual, Appendix A, and section 5540, for policy considerations.

An At-Risk Youth petition allows custodial parents to ask for a juvenile court's help in keeping their adolescent at home and setting reasonable conditions that the youth must follow, such as going to school, following family rules, and/or attending counseling sessions. If the youth disobeys a court order, the parents may file a motion and the youth may be held in contempt of court and placed in a detention facility for up to seven days.

Parents requesting an ARY petition keep legal custody of the youth. Parents do not have to pay for the FRS assessment and counseling but may have to pay for other services. Parents must complete a family assessment with the local CA office prior to filing the ARY petition.

Social workers must attempt to connect persons inquiring about ARY with FRS or other appropriate service.

The assigned CA social worker must complete a family assessment in accordance with RCW 13.32A.150 before the court may accept the filing of an ARY petition by the youth or the youth's parents. The social worker must use the FRS Family Assessment to document the assessment.


  1. The ideal outcome of an FRS service episode is the reduction in level of conflict, the stabilization of the family, and the reduced risk of out-of-home placement or the return home of a runaway youth.
  2. Specific outcomes may include:
    1. Youth and family received FRS counseling, and the youth remains at home. Case is closed.
    2. Youth and family received FRS counseling, and the youth was placed temporarily in out-of-home care. The family's ability to cope was strengthened, and the youth was then returned home. Case is closed.
    3. Youth and family received FRS counseling, but serious conflict remained unresolved. The youth was placed in longer-term out-of-home care. The social worker shall transfer placement cases to CWS social workers when family reunification is not the immediate goal.
    4. Youth and family chose not to participate in further FRS service. Case is closed.
    5. During FRS intervention, youth disclosed sexual abuse or serious physical abuse and, following supervisory staffing, the FRS worker carried the case jointly with or transferred to CPS.
    6. Family was referred to community services, and the case was closed.

3710. Inactive Status

  1. Case Closure: Cases where services have ended per section 3800 but cannot be closed until paperwork and other documentation is completed should be designated as “Services Inactive/Paperwork Pending (S) program assignment for social worker or supervisor”.
  2. The purpose of this worker assignment is to be able to track the workload involved in follow-up paperwork (Operations Manual 152022 (F)(4)).
  3. The social worker must properly complete all forms and narrative recordings within 90 days of a decision to terminate services and close a case. The supervisor must review both CAMIS and the folder for accuracy and completeness and document the review in the CAMIS SER before closure or transfer to another service.