4307. Voluntary Placement Agreement

Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: February, 1995

Revised Date: July 23, 2017

Policy Review: July 1, 2021


A Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) safely supports a time-limited plan to remove a child who cannot remain safely at home for a short-term and place him or her in out-of-home care.


This policy applies to Division of Children and Family Services staff.


RCW 13.34.245 Voluntary consent to foster care placement for Indian children, validation, withdrawal of consent, termination

RCW 74.13.031  Duties of department, child welfare services, children’s services advisory committee

RCW 74.15.020  Definitions


  1. A VPA will be used in specific time-limited circumstances as part of a short-term placement plan for children who cannot safely remain at home. A VPA will not exceed 90 days.
  2. A VPA is valid when:
    1. Signed by both parents or legal guardians of the child unless:
      1. The department is unable to locate the other parent or legal guardian; or
      2. Legal custody resides with one parent, which must be verified.
    2. Signed by the DCFS caseworker and supervisor.
    3. Signed in front of a judicial officer of the Tribal Court or Juvenile Court when the child is an Indian child as per ICW Chapter 6.
    4. Placed with a licensed caregiver or relative as defined in RCW 71.15.020 (2) and within the state of Washington.
  3. A VPA may not be used to place a child or youth:
    1. With an "other suitable person" per RCW 13.34.130.
    2. On a hospital, medical, or physician hold.
    3. Outside of Washington state.
    4. In out-of-home care when the youth is 18 years or older. See 43105 Extender Foster Care policy for youth over 18 years old.
  4. A Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) staffing must be conducted before a child is:
    1. Placed or no later than 72 hours after the placement occurs when there is an emergency situation and an FTDM cannot occur prior to placement.
    2. Returned home to assess child safety and determine if the child can safely return home.
  5. CA will return the child home within a “reasonable time” if a parent requests to vacate the VPA. For the purpose of this policy, “reasonable time” means one business day excluding weekends and holidays.


  1. Caseworkers and supervisors will approve VPAs in the following circumstances:
    1. A safety threat exists, which cannot be managed in the home, and services provided during the 90 day period are likely to eliminate the need for court intervention.
    2. After business hours, when a safety threat exists and the child is not placed in protective custody by law enforcement.
    3. The parent or legal guardian needs temporary care for the child while undergoing medical care or treatment and there are no alternative placement resources.
    4. The child's other parent or legal guardian is not immediately available to provide care.
  2.  If the parent terminates the VPA, the caseworker must immediately reassess safety to determine if the child can safely return home. 
    1. If the child can safely return home, the child must be returned to the parent or legal guardian with legal custody within “reasonable time.”
    2. If the child cannot safely return home, the department will immediately contact law enforcement to request placement of the child in protective custody or will file a dependency petition and request a pick-up order within “reasonable time.” 
  3. Caseworkers must complete and upload the VPA form DSHS 9-004B into FamLink with all required signatures.
  4. Caseworkers must document the following in FamLink:
    1. The child's legal information on the Legal Records page.
    2. The child's placement status on the Placement page.
    3. A request from a parent or legal guardian to end the VPA and the subsequent actions  in a case note.
    4. The efforts made to have both parents sign the VPA.


Voluntary Placement Agreement form DSHS 9-004B (available on the CA intranet)


Casework Activities for Court Proceedings – Indian Child Welfare Policies and Procedures Chapter 6

4261. Placement Priorities policy