5100. Applying as a Foster Parent or Unlicensed Caregiver

Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 1974

Revised Date: August 31, 2015

Sunset Review: August 31, 2018


Applications for foster home licenses, adoption, relative care, and suitable other are submitted to local offices and processed by Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) staff, to assess character, competence and suitability of potential caregivers for children in out-of-home care.


This policy applies to all DLR licensing staff.


42 USC 671a
RCW 74.15
RCW 74.13.250
WAC 388-148


  1. Children's Administration(CA) is prohibited from denying any person the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent, on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability or national origin of the foster or adoptive parent, or the child, involved 42 USC 671a and RCW 49.60.030 
  2. All applicants seeking to care for children in CA care and custody must have an approved family home study.
  3. All licensing applicants must complete required training as noted in 5180. Foster Parent Training.
  4. Relatives and suitable others seeking to be placement resources for children in foster care are not required to be licensed.
  5. Applicants seeking only to be an adoptive placement are not required to be licensed.
  6. Applicants seeking a foster home license must meet the licensing regulations specified in WAC 388-148.
  7. Foster care maintenance payments can only be issued to licensed foster homes.
  8. All provider and case files (electronic and paper information) must be restricted for personnel or personnel’s household members if employed by: Children's Administration (CA), Economic Services Administration (ESA), Department of Early Learning (DEL), or by DLR Administrator directive.
  9. For DSHS employees seeking foster care licensing or adoption see Administrative Policy 6.24.  See Resources below.


The DLR Worker or designee must:

  1. Initiate the home study when an application and background checks for all household member(s) age sixteen (16) and older are received.
  2. Date-stamp applications and accompanying documents from prospective applicants and assign to a DLR worker.
  3. Create a provider, if needed, and enter the application into FamLink.
  4. Compile a six section folder with documents filed with the most current document on top of the section. (See CA intranet under DLR Programs, DLR Forms)
  5. Store large documents for regional licensing in an additional file, clearly labeled as to the contents.
  6. Restrict access to provider files when applicable. See #8 above.



To locate DSHS Administrative policies, go to the DSHS Intranet titled Inside DSHS, click Resources, Other Employee Resources and Administrative Policies and Rules.