Foster Parent and Kinship Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

CA encourages foster parents and relative caregivers to plan respite well in advance, whenever possible. If you are planning to allow someone else to care for your foster child under the Prudent Parent Law, you do not need to provide notice to the child’s caseworker if your time away is less than 72 hours. A courtesy notification to the caseworker of your plan is always appreciated. 

Here are some helpful tips to help you request respite and obtain a quicker reimbursement:

  • At least two (2) weeks before you need respite, contact the placement coordinator and the child’s caseworker by email, phone or in person to make the request (email is most effective).
  • If you have a pre-approved provider, you still must submit a request for respite, unless you are arranging care under 72 hours through the Prudent Parent Law.
  • Written information should include:
    • Your name and contact information.
    • Beginning and ending dates and times respite is needed.
    • Respite provider’s name and contact information.
    • Location respite will be provided.
    • Basic information on the child’s needs, and
    • Information on who should receive the billing.
  • Last minute reminders are helpful:
    • Confirm with the respite provider details of the respite plan, including when and where the child will be picked-up.
    • If a transporter is being used, obtain and include his or her phone number.
    • Send an e-mail to the placement coordinator/child’s caseworker.
    • Notify the child’s school/daycare, if needed, with details of the respite plan and provider’s name and contact info.

Once respite is complete, email the child’s caseworker or the placement coordinator that arranged the respite. Provide the exact dates and times of the respite and the respite provider’s name, or send a copy of the respite provider’s billing that includes this information. Always keep a copy for your records. Your respite provider’s payment should be processed within four weeks, but may take up to six weeks. This depends on when the bill is submitted and if it is processed in the main payment cycle, or with the supplemental payments later in the month. Helping your respite provider complete a bill or invoice and providing any requested documentation assists CA staff in processing your payment request more quickly.

Request your foster child’s social security number by contacting the child’s assigned worker.

Retention Respite offers licensed foster parents or Tribal foster parents regular monthly breaks from caregiving, or when the caregiver has an emergent need to be away from the home. Retention respite has a 30 day waiting period once an eligible child is placed in your home. For each month you have a child in care for 20 days or more, you earn two days retention respite per month and can accumulate or “bank” up to 14 days that can be used at one time. Remember that respite over 14 days is considered a placement change. Once the hours drop below 14 days, you can begin accumulating hours the next month. 

Retention respite is:

  • Used only in daily units; you cannot use just a partial day.
  • Available for each foster child who has been in placed with you 30 days or more. Licensed foster parents can opt to use retention respite for only one child in the home, even when more than one child is placed in the home. The time used will be subtracted from your accrued retention respite days.
  • Tracked and monitored by your region. Tribal and private agencies must monitor retention respite eligibility and utilization for their licensed homes and coordinate with CA’s regional management to report access and utilization.

CSR is linked directly to the medical, behavioral or special needs of an individual child placed in your home. CSR offers all families providing care to a child placed by CA, relief from the caregiving responsibilities that children with medical, behavioral, and special needs require. This type of respite is authorized on a case by case basis, consistent with the written service plan for the child. You can request to use CSR for half-days or full days. Half days cover up to five hours; anything over five hours is authorized as a full day. The CSR service for your foster child must be periodically re-authorized by the caseworker, and should be discussed in a shared planning meeting. When the caseworker considers a request for CSR, he or she must consider all other possibilities for relief from caregiving responsibilities that could assist you, such as retention respite, school, other relatives of the child, visitation, etc. If you need CSR for more than one week, it must be authorized by the Area Administrator.

Children in CA custody must receive private, individual face-to-face Health and Safety visits by the assigned CA worker or other qualified CA worker every calendar month. For children who are in out-of-home placements, the majority of Health and Safety visits must occur in the home where the child resides. If the CA worker visits the child in another location, the CA worker must document the reason and benefit gained.

Children in CA custody or receiving Family Voluntary Services (FVS) or Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) must receive private, individual face-to-face health and safety visits every calendar month, specifically:

  • The first visit must occur within one week (seven calendar days) after the child's initial date of placement or any change of placement;

  • Placement of a child is not considered a health and safety visit and does not meet the health and safety visitation policy ; and

  • The majority of health and safety visits must occur in the home where the child resides.

If you are not receiving regular monthly visits from the assigned caseworker for the child placed in your home, please contact their supervisor to inquire about scheduling the child’s next visit. Your assistance and partnership will help us ensure high quality services for you and the child in your care.

After you have turned in all necessary documents to request reimbursement to the assigned case worker, 30 days is adequate time to allow our fiscal staff to process the reimbursement. It also helps to notify the child’s assigned case worker by email or a phone call that you are submitting a reimbursement. Always remember to keep a copy of your receipt and any paperwork provided with your reimbursement request.

If you have not received your mileage reimbursement within 30 days, contact your child’s assigned worker to confirm they received and processed the form. If you are not able to contact the worker, please ask the receptionist to connect you with the worker’s supervisor. Let them know it’s been more than 30 days since the worker received the form and you have not yet been reimbursed.

If you’ve have left a message for the supervisor but still haven’t been contacted within two – three business days, you can speak with the Area Administrator (AA). If the AA has not responded within two to three business days you can contact the Deputy Regional Administrator (DRA). The AA and DRAs’ contact information is on the CA staff directory on our website: https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/ca/employeedirectory. The office receptionist can also connect you to the right person.

Another resource to you is the regional fiduciary; this person handles the processing of all financial paperwork for the region. The fiduciary can be contacted at any point after you have contacted the child’s assigned worker and have not received a response. The office receptionist can direct your call to the fiduciary.

Mileage is reimbursable for transporting children to parent or sibling visits, medical, dental, counseling or WIC appointments as well as other needs specified in the case plan for the child. Regular transportation to and from school is not reimbursable, unless there is a need and plan to maintain the child’s educational stability, or to attend school-related extracurricular activities. If you have questions about allowable mileage, review the Caregiver Monthly Mileage form, or consult with the child’s worker.

CA pays the cost of retention respite for foster families licensed through DLR. CA does not pay for retention respite for foster parents licensed through private CPA’s; private agencies assume those costs under their contract with CA. However, CA does pay for child specific respite, regardless if the foster parent is licensed by DLR or by a CPA. Respite care must be authorized in advance by the child’s caseworker if it is to be paid for by CA.

Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not caused by the flu. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal illness.

E-mail or call the child’s caseworker or the placement coordinator who arranged your respite; let them know the respite has not been paid. If you call make sure to leave a message if the caseworker isn’t available, including your name and contact information. If you are not able to reach the caseworker, you can press “0” for help, or request to speak with the caseworker’s supervisor.

Vaccines that come from a single dosage vial contain no added mercury. Shots that come from multiple dose vials do contain a trace of chemical preservative but the amount is inconsequential.

Yes, if you have not received a reimbursement for in response to your request within 30 days and you have tried to reach the case worker. If you need help locating the supervisor’s contact information, the CA staff directory is on our website: https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/ca/employeedirectory.

Under the Prudent Parenting Law and policy, you have the authority to make this decision to allow the child to participate in normal childhood activities. As with your own children, careful and thoughtful parental decisions should be utilized when deciding whether to allow a child should participate or not.

Caregivers are encouraged to attend and are welcome at the child’s court hearings. Caregivers are entitled to notice of the child’s scheduled hearings. Caregivers are usually most interested in the six month reviews and the 12 month permanency hearings. We understand it may not always be possible for you to attend, due to your work schedule or other caregiving needs. It is also important to know that long wait times are not uncommon at court.

Many of the dependency courts schedule multiple hearings at the same time. The court then decides which hearings will go first. Sometimes there can be a lengthy wait for your foster child’s hearing (which may only last about 10 minutes). Sometimes the court continues the child’s hearing to another date. Whether you attend the hearing or not, we encourage all caregivers to complete the Caregiver Report to the Court form and provide it to the child’s assigned worker about 10 days prior to the hearing, or take it with you for distribution at the Court hearing. Obtain the Caregivers Report to Court here: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/fsa/forms (enter form # 15-313)

Yes, not only is it safe, it could save you or your baby’s life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends a flu shot for pregnant women. The flu shot is made with inactivated (killed) virus. Pregnant women should not receive the nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is made with live (weakened) virus.