4312. Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care


Evaluate child safety and support to caregivers when determining outside communication with parents, relatives and other important people to the child in out of home care.


RCW 13.34.136


  1. Children in out-of-home care must have reasonable access to uncensored communication with parents, relatives, and other people important to the child.
  2. Communication restrictions must be based on a pending investigation or an identified child safety issue and be addressed in a court order or service plan.
  3. Child safety issues must be addressed prior to allowing the child to participate in any communications with parents, relatives or people important to the child.


  1. Notify and collaborate with the child (if age appropriate), child's out-of-home caregiver, parent(s), relative(s) and important people to the child to develop the child's communication plan. Communication may include:
    1. Private telephone calls;
    2. Mail and gifts;
    3. Electronic communication (E-mail and other electronic social networking avenues such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter). Access to electronic communication is based on reasonable caregiver or social worker discretion and on electronic device availability.
  2. Note: Visitation occurs per 4254. Parent-Child-Sibling Visiting Policy
  3. Discuss with caregivers any court orders or service plans that restrict the child's contact with family, relative or important people to the child. Limited or censored communication could include:
    1. Opening and reviewing mail for appropriate child related content.
    2. Opening gifts to determine age appropriateness.
    3. Monitoring of email or phone calls for appropriate child related content.
    4. Determining age appropriate use of social networking sites, including limitations.Note: Allowing children access to electronic communication as described above is based on reasonable caregiver discretion and on electronic device availability.
  4. Inform caregivers on social networking websites regarding children in out-of-home care must not include:
    1. Child's name
    2. Identify the child as being a foster child.
    3. Discussion about case specific information about the child or the child's family
  5. Inform caregivers if there are safety reasons why unidentified photos may not be posted on the caregiver's social networking site(s).
  6. Discuss communication planning with the child and caregiver during monthly visits.
  7. Conduct when needed, a Shared Planning Meeting if communication needs to be limited or censored due to safety concerns.
  8. Document the child's communication plan and any decisions to limit a child's communication in the electronic case file.

See Also

2440 Service Agreements Policy

4301 Shared Planning Policy