Foster Parent and Kinship Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The caseworker must have monthly visits with foster parents and relative caregivers of children placed by CA.

  • Visits with children and caregivers may occur during the same monthly visit although the visits will be separate;

  • Location of the visit may vary.

The caseworker will:

  • Discuss the child's well-being and permanency goals;

  • Discuss upcoming court hearings and provide a court report if the hearing is scheduled to happen within 14 days;

  • Observe the child and caregiver relationship and home environment (when the visit occurs in the caregiver's home);

  • Assess the caregiver's ability to provide adequate care;

  • Identify any support or training needs/requests for the caregiver to address placement stability;

  • Inquire about visitation with parents and/or siblings and how is child responding;

  • Discuss the child’s normal childhood activities the child participates in, or is interested in;

  • Discuss any requests to significantly change the child’s appearance.Prior approval must be obtained from the parent, court, and Tribe, if the child is Native American and legally free. Changes that need prior approval include, but are not limited to, body piercings, haircuts, and changes in hairstyles.

  • Share the parent’s interest in the child’s care and requests for participation in normal childhood activities.

Yes, the CA caseworker is required to conduct an unannounced visit with caregivers in 10% of randomly selected homes. This random selection is generated in FamLink.

No. However, many caregivers prefer to transport their foster child to and from visits. Some foster parents want to help with supervision and that is okay, but foster parents are never required or expected to transport or supervise the visits.

The child’s assigned worker and caregiver should establish ongoing communication to discuss the child’s visit plan and arrangements, including transportation. This would be a good topic to discuss during the worker’s monthly visit. Sometimes visitation plans change. It’s helpful to have both the worker and caregiver prepared and ready to support the child, if the visit schedule, location, transporter, or other factors need to change.

CA policy identifies three types of respite care:

  • Retention Respite – respite days earned on a monthly basis when caring for a dependent child. Paid by CA
  • Child Specific Respite – tied to the medical, behavioral or special needs of an individual child. Paid by CA
  • Exchange Respite – planned and negotiated between licensed caregivers and does not include payment of CA funds.

You are encouraged, but not required, to first contact the assigned case worker, their supervisor, the AA and DRA to resolve the issue. If you are not satisfied with the resolution you may then contact CA Office of Constituent Relations in Olympia. Constituent Relations will listen to your complaint or concerns and can act as a liaison with the region, working to resolve your complaint or concern. They can be reached at: 

Office of the Family and Children's Ombuds (OFCO)

Anyone may contact the OFCO when they have a complaint or are unable to resolve a complaint. The OFCO investigates complaints about agency actions or inaction that involve:

  • Any child at risk of abuse, neglect, or other harm.
  • A child or parent involved with child protection or child welfare services.

The OFCO will listen to your concerns and may become involved in cases which they determine an agency's action or inaction is unauthorized or unreasonable. In addition to addressing complaints, they work to identify system-wide issues and recommend appropriate changes in public reports to the Governor, the Legislature and agency officials.

The OFCO is an independent office within the Office of the Governor and can be reached at:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an excellent website with information on the flu:

There is growing mistrust about flu vaccines. The fact is that vaccines are the greatest medical advance in history. They’ve prevented more illness and death than any treatment.

No, it is impossible for the flu vaccine to give you the flu. Flu vaccines contain dead virus, and a dead virus can’t infect you. The nasal vaccine contains live virus, but the virus is specially made to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.

Yes, there are flu vaccines that don’t contain egg proteins which approved for use in adults age 18 and older. Flu vaccines that do have egg proteins can be given safely to most people with an egg allergy. If you have questions or concerns, you should talk directly to your health care provider.

Yes, you can attend all court hearings. Let the worker know you plan to attend the hearing. If you want the worker to tell the court you are present, ask the worker in advance to do so. Some caregivers prefer to not have their attendance called out to the court; it is your decision.

Under the Prudent Parent Law, foster parents now may also arrange for the foster child to spend the night away from the foster home for up to 72 hours with someone known to the foster parent. Foster parents must ensure the needs of the child will be met and any safety and supervision plans are followed. The Prudent Parenting law does not require payment for short term care of up to 72 hours. However, if a foster parent makes arrangements for the child and agrees to pay the alternate caregiver for short term care, the expenses are paid by the foster parent.

Under the Prudent Parent Law and policy, you can take your foster child with you on a trip or vacation lasting up to 72 hours without approval by the worker or agency. If you are planning a longer vacation, you will need to obtain approval through the worker. Some vacation plans require court approval, especially if the child will miss scheduled visits with their parent(s) or siblings. Missed visits with the parents will need to be made up. If you are traveling out of state, or out of the country notify the child’s worker as soon as you begin your plans to ensure there is adequate time to obtain all necessary approvals and/or court orders. Find the Prudent Parent Guidelines here:

You may claim your foster or relative child if the child has been placed in your care for more than six (6) months of the tax year. There are special circumstances for an infant born later in the year and placed in foster care. Contact your tax consultant or the DSHS Tax Desk for more information.

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No. Although you are using respite care, the child is still placed in your home and will return once respite is over. However, if a child is in respite for 14 days or longer, per CA, this is considered a change in placement and requires prior approval from the child’s caseworker. Make sure to talk with the child’s caseworker when your respite request is 14 days or longer. The request should be made in advance because staffing and approval by a supervisor or an area administrator (AA) is required.

Make a list of any questions you have for the caseworker. They might include: 

  • The current status of the permanent plan.

  • Upcoming meetings/staffings/court hearings/appointments that you or the child or youth might want to attend, the visitation schedule and transportation arrangements.

  • Respite needs and pending reimbursements related to mileage, respite and child care.

You can help by sharing:

  • Information about how the child is doing in your home, school, childcare or other settings;

  • Strengths and needs of the child and concerns you have;

  • Your need for information about the child;

  • Services the child may need;

  • Support services you might need: training, support groups, recruitment and retention liaison contact, foster parent FaceBook groups, etc.

Review the back of the document for instructions and examples on how to complete the form and information about Child Specific Mileage. The form also provides information on transportation that we do not reimburse. Make sure to complete all areas on the form. If you are unsure about an item, check with the child’s worker, or a Foster Parent Liaison. Always keep a copy of your signed form, in case there are questions or if your payment is delayed.

  • First, consider the child in your care – where will respite work best for the child? In your home, or in a licensed foster parent’s home?
  • As you become licensed, ask family or friends to become approved as your respite provider and help them complete the required paperwork.
  • The Prudent Parenting Law allows you to use family or friends you know and trust to provide care for your foster child for up to 72 hours; this can take place in your home or theirs. You will be responsible for any payment for this type of short term care.
  • You may request respite care through the child’s assigned caseworker and the CA Placement Coordinator in your local DCFS office (if your area has a centralized placement service, please check with them first). Provide your request in writing and include the date and time you the respite to begin and the date/time you will return to pick up your child. It is important for the child’s safety and well-being that the respite provider have information necessary to meet the child’s needs. It is also important to share information about any the child’s upcoming appointments or visits. The respite provider should have emergency contact information and information about any medications or special dietary needs.
  • Foster parent support groups are an excellent way to meet other foster parents who are from your area. Often group members will provide respite for other foster parents who are part of their group.
  • Become a member of one of the Foster Parent Support Facebook groups hosted by our Recruitment and Retention contractors. Foster parents often post their need for respite care and find other foster parents who are willing to do respite.

You can be reimbursed for allowable mileage by completing the Caregiver Monthly Mileage form (DSHS 07-090 Rev. 1/2015) and submitting it to the child’s worker. A copy of this form is contained in your Caregiver Placement Packet, or you can request one from the child’s worker, or you can find it online at: It helps to make several copies of the form to keep on hand. Submit your mileage to the child’s worker each month for timely reimbursement. Per CA administrative policy, mileage submitted after 90 days will not be reimbursed.

As a caregiver, you are entitled to know about the date and time of the child’s court hearings. Here are some ways you can learn when the court hearing is scheduled:

  • When the child is first placed with you, let the assigned worker know you need the court date.
  • Ask the assigned worker for the date and time of the next hearing at the child’s next Health and Safety visit.
  • When you receive a copy of the child’s Court Report, check the front page; the date of the next hearing is printed there.
  • If you attend the court review hearings, the court sets the date and time for the next review during the hearing.