2559. Hospital Holds

Approval:  Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 

Revised Date:  July 23, 2017

Policy Review:  July 23, 2021


Hospital administrators or physicians have legal authority to detain children if they believe a child is in imminent danger if released to their parent. This policy provides Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworkers with direction on the department’s response.


This policy applies to DCFS staff.


RCW 26.44.056   Protective detention or custody of abused child - Reasonable cause - Notice - Time limits - Monitoring plan - Liability.


The DCFS caseworker must:

  1. Receive a child into department custody who is identified to be at risk of imminent danger if released to his or her parent when:
    1. Placed on a hospital hold by a hospital administrator or physician, or
    2. Taken into protective custody (PC) by a law enforcement (LE) agency following contact from a hospital administrator or physician.
  2. Follow Indian Child Welfare Chapter 1 Initial Intake Indian Child Welfare (ICW) policies when there is reason to believe that the child is or may be a member, or is the biological child of a member and eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
  3. Determine with the supervisor whether the child can be safely returned to the parent or guardian.
    1. If the child cannot be safely returned home, maintain the child in CA custody until the court assumes jurisdiction.
    2. If the child can be safely returned home, return the child to the parent or guardian.
  4. If the child can be safely returned home, monitor the child’s safety for at least six months if:
    1. The child was placed on a hospital hold by the physician or hospital administrator; and
    2. The child was placed in protective custody by law enforcement.
  5. Follow 1720. Family Team Decision Making Meetings policy for critical decisions regarding the removal of a child from his or her parent.
  6. Document the caseworker and supervisor determination about whether a child may return home and the reasons for the determination in FamLink.