4267. Removal Of Children From Licensed Care


The purpose is to provide guidelines for Children's Administration (CA) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) staff involved in the placement and removal of children from licensed or certified care. Such care may be provided by DLR licensed facilities, private child care agencies, and tribal social service agencies. However, CA does not remove children in the custody of tribes or private agency.


  1. DLR has the responsibility to investigate all allegations of child abuse and neglect (CA/N) in DSHS licensed, certified, and state operated care facilities for children. DLR also must ensure the immediate safety of alleged child victims and other children in the home or facility in the course of any investigation. DLR has the responsibility to make licensing decisions.
  2. RCW 26.44.056 and RCW 13.34.050 provide that a child may be removed from a biological parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian when CPS or law enforcement determines that the child would be at risk of imminent harm or danger if left with the parent. Only law enforcement may remove a child from a biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian or custodian without a court order.
  3. The standard that must be met before a foster child can be removed from foster care is lower than that for removal from the child's parent or guardian. RCW 74.13.300 states the standard for removal from foster care by providing that removal may occur if the foster child's safety is in jeopardy. The term “child's safety is in jeopardy” is a lower standard than the imminent harm standard. RCW 74.15.010, the intent section for the licensing statute, clarifies this standard.
  4. For children placed through a tribal child placing agency, CA must consult with the tribe's social service program when undertaking the steps for removal of children under this policy. Such actions must be consistent with the requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U. S. C. 1901, et. seq., and CA Indian Child Welfare policies and procedures. CA may not remove a child in the custody of the tribe.
  5. RCW 13.34.236 requires that a dependency guardian meet the minimum requirements to care for children as provided in RCW 74.15.030.


  1. If the investigating social worker determines that a child is at imminent risk or the child's safety is in jeopardy, CA staff will follow the steps below:
    1. The DLR/CPS supervisor will make a recommendation to the appropriate DCFS supervisor so that DCFS staff can act to protect the children at risk.
    2. When children in CA's care and custody are determine to be unsafe in licensed or unlicensed care, children are removed from that placement.
    3. The two divisions must make every effort to resolve any differences of opinion regarding the assessment of risk.
    4. If DLR and DCFS staff are unable to resolve differences of opinion and DLR/CPS still believes that the child or children are at risk and need to be removed, the DLR/CPS Section Manager makes the final decision regarding initial assessment of risk.
  2. DLR/CPS staff must inform the licensed or certified person or agency of the investigation findings. DCFS staff, who are responsible for the child in the placement, must inform the care provider of the need to remove the child, unless DLR staff has agreed, on an individual basis, to inform the provider.
  3. DLR and DCFS staff will coordinate and cooperate regarding the removal of the children to ensure that the removal is in accordance with CA policy and procedures. DLR/CPS staff may assist in the transport of children if this is the agreed upon plan with DCFS.
  4. If, in the course of a CPS or licensing investigation, OFCL staff determine that DLR will revoke the license and DCFS, child placing agency, or tribal-supervised children in the custody of CA (foster care, guardianship, pre-adopt) are present in the home, DLR and DCFS staff will take the following steps:
    1. The DLR Regional Manager will notify the DCFS Regional Administrator (or designee) and the private agency or tribal social service agency, when applicable. The DLR Regional Manager will convene a staffing to include ALL parties. The focus will be to review the issues and concerns AND to discuss the dual mandates of safety and permanency.
    2. If DCFS, the private agency, or the tribe requests DLR to continue the license of a foster/group care provider after a finding of child abuse/neglect, the continuation must be within the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) guidelines.
      1. This provision covers only homes and facilities licensed or certified by CA; it does not include homes or facilities licensed by sovereign tribes.
      2. DLR Regional Managers need to consult ASFA guidelines for corrective action plans and continuation of foster care licenses.
    3. The DCFS Regional Administrator or the applicable private agency or tribe must initiate a request for a continuation of the foster care license, under a corrective action plan, and the DLR/OFCL Regional Manager must make a decision on the request before DLR takes any adverse licensing action.
    4. If DCFS, or the private agency or tribe and DLR still cannot reach agreement, the DCFS Regional Administrator or the designated representative of the private agency or tribe and the Director of DLR must meet to discuss and resolve the situation, taking into consideration both safety and permanency.
    5. All removals of children from foster care placements must comply with RCW 74.13.300. The foster parent has the right to request a review of the decision to move the child pursuant to RCW 74.13.045, the department's complaint resolution process.
    6. The DCFS Regional Administrator and the Director of DLR must review the situation with the Assistant Secretary before DCFS staff process adoption consents and/or guardianship agreements if a child remains in a facility with founded CA/N or where OFCL believes revocation is indicated.