Foster Parent and Kinship Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Any time a child has been referred for services, or if you believe the child needs a specific service, the first step is a discussion with the child’s case worker. The delay could be related to service availability, additional steps needed or busy caseloads.

Referrals can sometimes be overlooked so don’t hesitate to ask the case worker about the service. If you haven’t received information about the start of the service after contacting the assigned case worker, you can contact the worker’s supervisor for assistance. The Area Administrator (AA) and then the Deputy Regional Administrator (DRA) are the next steps in the chain of command within CA. Caregivers should not be worried about approaching a supervisor, AA or DRA for help in getting services for a child. Use this link to access our staff directories: https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/ca/employeedirectory 

Shared Planning Meetings are a good opportunity for you to participate in the development of a plan for services or supports for a child and to hear about progress and next steps in the case. These meetings are also to establish case and services timeframes and assign tasks. 

Monthly Health and Safety visits with the assigned case worker are another opportunity to discuss the child’s well-being and permanency goals, including any supports or services needed.

Payment for respite care is taxable income; providers will have taxes deducted from their earnings. Respite providers for foster parents licensed through DLR, will have taxes deducted in their payment received from DSHS. Persons providing respite for foster parents licensed through CPAs are paid directly by the private agency. Because DSHS maintains a contract with the CPA for its services, taxes for respite payments are deducted by DSHS before the funds are sent to the CPA for disbursement to the respite provider.

Each respite provider that is receiving payment must complete a W-9 tax form prior to providing care. Because each person’s tax status is different, the amount of tax deducted from their payment will vary.

You would submit a completed and signed Caregiver Monthly Mileage form for allowable mileage reimbursement. Click on the link for quick access to the form. You can also request a paper copy from the assigned worker. The form is also included in the Caregiver Placement Packet you received when the child was placed with you.

Most purchases made by caregivers for a foster child (camps, sports, sports equipment, etc.) require prior approval from the assigned case worker. Exceptions can be made for emergencies such as a child’s placement on a Friday night when the child comes with little or no clothing and no clothing voucher. Clothing vouchers per the clothing voucher policy are only authorized for up to $200 per child. If you purchase something on an emergency basis, provide the original receipts and any other documentation showing your cost and payments to the child’s case worker for reimbursement. Also remember to keep copies of your receipts and your monthly mileage forms.

CA’s Child Safety Policy (1100) requires all workers to observe the child and assess for present danger. They also:

  • Meet privately with verbal children, in the home or another location to discuss:

    • Whether the child feels safe in the placement,

    • The child’s needs, wants and progress,

    • How the visits with their parent(s) and/or siblings are going,

    • Their interest and participation in normal childhood activities, and

    • Case activities, planning and permanent plan;

  • Assess the child’s development, physical and emotional well-being

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can cause death. Influenza is not a cold. Influenza usually comes on suddenly. People who have Influenza often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to two weeks. Some people can develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of influenza.

Infants and small children are more vulnerable to influenza and can become seriously ill. They can get pneumonia, bronchiolitis and are more likely to die from the flu. 

Anyone can get influenza (even healthy people), and serious problems related to influenza can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious complications. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

It is care provided to children placed in your home to give you a break from daily caregiver responsibilities. Respite care gives you the opportunity for personal time away from home and can support you if there is an emergency that takes you away from home. Respite care can play an important role in maintaining the stability of a child’s placement, avoiding disruption and supporting you.

Respite care reimbursement rates are established by DSHS. For children receiving a level 1 or 2 foster care rate, the daily reimbursement rate is $22.44.

Children who receive a level 3 or 4 foster care rate are eligible for a daily respite care rate of $38.76.

Beginning January 2015, the reimbursement rate for mileage is .575 per mile. Periodically the rate will change, based on instructions from the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM). Watch the Caregiver Connection for notice about changes, or check CA’s Foster Parent web page for the current rate.

Go to the CA foster parent web page at: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/foster-parenting, and look for:

Contact Information
Children's Administration Staff Directories
Click the hyperlink, Get contact information for Children’s Administration staff

This will provide you with contact information for our social work staff, supervisors and Area Administrators.

Exchange respite is negotiated and arranged between licensed foster parents and does not include payment by CA. The specific guidelines are:

  • You must remain within the terms issued on your license (capacity, age, gender and number of children),
  • You must notify the child’s caseworker of the plan to exchange respite services before the respite takes place,
  • The caseworker must verify there are no licensing complaints pending which would disqualify the respite provider from caring for the child,
  • The caseworker will inform the respite provider of any special needs of the child, supervision requirements and safety issues prior to initiating respite.

Call 1-800-301-1868 if you need support, assistance or help with a child in your care after normal business hours, on weekends or holidays. If you are experiencing an emergency with a child’s health, mental health or out of control behaviors that could cause injury to the child or others, DO NOT hesitate to call 911.

Under the Prudent Parent Law, you can determine who you trust to watch your foster child in your own home for up to 72 hours. If you are arranging in-home respite for longer than 72 hours, the respite provider must meet these requirements:

  • Background clearance through CA* 
    *Forms available from CA staff
  • Washington state criminal check with fingerprints
  • Have current First Aid/CPR/Infant CPR certification
  • Provide three personal references to CA
  • Complete an interview with a DLR licensor or the child’s caseworker

Persons providing respite care in their own home must be licensed by the Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) as a foster parent. Respite providers must remain within the terms issued on their foster care license (age, gender and number of children). Under the Prudent Parent Law (RCW 74.13.710) you can allow your foster child to spend the night (up to 72 hours) with someone you know and trust. These arrangements are not considered respite care and the foster parent is responsible to pay any costs.

Respite care is available for foster parents licensed by the Division of Licensed Resources (DLR), a Tribal agency, licensed Child Placing Agencies (CPA), or unlicensed relative caregivers and suitable person placements. It is available when you have a child placed in your care by Children’s Administration (CA) or one of Washington’s Tribes. 

Respite care services for unlicensed relative caregivers or suitable person placements are intended to meet the needs of children and families in emergency situations and prevent placement disruptions. Respite services are paid by CA if the respite provider for an unlicensed relative caregiver or a suitable person placement is a licensed foster parent.

Your completed and signed form should be sent to the child’s assigned worker. Always keep a copy of your signed document, should you need it for reference. You can submit this form by postal mail, e-mail, or personally at the office. If you submit the form via e-mail, request the child’s worker to send a response to confirm he/she has received it. If you submit the form directly at the office, ask the receptionist to date stamp it and provide you a copy.

Call the local Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) office and ask to speak to a supervisor. Give them the child’s name and date of birth, along with the name of the last worker assigned to the child. Here is the link to contact the local offices: https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/ca/employeedirectory

Based on the negotiated contracts Children’s Administration has with these agencies, they only provide transportation to supervised visits.

Workers should always let caregivers know when a child has a scheduled court hearing. Some hearings are procedural; this is a brief court appearance where the judge reviews an administrative requirement, or continues a scheduled review hearing. These hearings are covered by the Department’s attorney and even the workers aren’t required to appear. 

There may have been a change in assigned worker. The new worker may not be aware you haven’t been notified. Any time you want to know when the next court hearing is scheduled, please ask the worker or his or her supervisor for that information.

Getting the flu shot makes it less likely that you’re going to get the flu, and it makes it less likely that people in your family and community are going to get the flu. 

There are many strains of the flu. Sometimes the vaccine doesn’t target all of the current strains, but it can protect you from other strains, reduce the chance of hospitalizations and death. Getting vaccinated every year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.