Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to DSHS Economic Services Administration's Frequently Asked Questions!

Once a refugee is granted permission to come to the U.S. and granted a legal immigration status, voluntary resettlement agencies called "VOLAG's" are contracted for initial resettlement. The VOLAG is responsible for meeting and picking up the refugee at the airport; finding a place to live; and helping with basic necessities and cultural orientation within the first 90 days of the refugee being in the U.S. Click here for a list of the VOLAG's that resettle refugees in Washington State.

An Administrative Hearing is a process that can be initiated any time a client disagrees with an action taken by the Department. Some examples of hearing issues include but are not limited to; terminations, reductions in benefits, assignment of a protective payee, overpayments or denial of benefits. A hearing can be requested in person, by phone, or in writing using Request for Hearing (DSHS Form 05-013). If you need to cancel your Administrative Hearing you may use Fair Hearing Withdrawal (DSHS Form 02-528).

If you receive cash or food assistance, you will be issued an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card. This card is also called a "Quest Card". You use this card like a debit card to purchase items at stores. You will need to know your 4 digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) to use your card. You will be given a detailed booklet describing how to use your card when you are approved for benefits. Follow this link for more information: EBT - Make Getting Benefits Easier.

Child Support is money which an absent parent is ordered to pay on a regular basis to help support the cost of raising his or her child.

You must have a child support case and help DCS when you get TANF or medical assistance. But, if you are victim of domestic violence and you believe receiving child support services will put you or your child in danger, you may have a good reason why you do not want child support services.

DSHS calls this reason "good cause" or "good cause not to cooperate with DCS."

Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It includes the recruitment, transportation, or sales of persons for labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines severe forms of trafficking as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel women, men, and children to engage in commercial sex or forced labor. Many victims trafficked into the U.S. do not speak and understand English and are therefore isolated and unable to communicate with service providers, law enforcement, and others who might be able to help them.

Noncompliance is the failure of a person, business, or other entity to take action as required by an inquiry, subpoena, or income-withholding instrument issued by any state's child support enforcement agency.

Noncompliance is the failure to:

  • Respond to an inquiry from a child support enforcement agency.

  • Comply with a subpoena issued by a child support enforcement agency.

  • Return the Answer to an income-withholding instrument or notice of enrollment.

  • Withhold support required under a lien or an income-withholding instrument. The party is liable for either the amount that should have been withheld, or for the debt amount on an Order to Withhold and Deliver, whichever is less.

  • Remit withheld support monies to the child support enforcement agency.

  • Enroll children in an available medical plan required under a Notice of Enrollment.

  • Report a new hired employee.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

DCS uses an informal proceeding called a conference board to resolve customer complaints or grievances.

  • If you feel aggrieved by a DCS action or dissatisfied with an employee, first contact your support enforcement officer (SEO).
  • If you can't resolve the issue, you can request a conference board.

For more information, see the rules governing conference boards in WAC 388-14A-6400 and following. In addition, DCS has a brochure entitled Child Support Conference Boards. You can get the brochure from your DCS office.


If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Once a final administrative child support order is entered, the current child support and health insurance and medical requirements continue each month until one of the following occurs:

  • A state or tribal court order supersedes the order.
  • The order is modified under WAC 388-14A-3925. The noncustodial parent, custodial parent, physical custodian, or DCS may petition for modification of a child support order.
  • The later of a child's 18th birthday or graduation from a secondary school program or the same level of vocational or technical training, if the child is a full-time student and has not reached age nineteen (19). If the child will not graduate by his or her 19th birthday, child support stops at the end of the month containing the child's 19th birthday.
  • A child is emancipated, marries, or becomes a member of the United States armed forces.
  • A child or the noncustodial parent dies.
  • The parties to the order marry or remarry each other, as provided in WAC 388-14A-3100(3).

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Federal Law

42 U.S.C. 654(6)(B)(ii)

State of Washington Law


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO CUSTODIANS RECEIVING IV-D CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES:

Beginning October 1, 2019, the annual fee for services increases from $25 to $35. Washington law provides that the custodial parent pays this fee. The $35 fee will be withheld from child support payments that are made on the case, but only after $550 in child support has been disbursed to the family between October 1 and September 30 (the federal fiscal year), and only if the custodial parent has never received TANF, Tribal TANF or AFDC on behalf of a child.

If you have questions, or would like additional information about the $35 fee please refer to the following links, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS.

The Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR) is a notice that the Division of Child Support (DCS) uses to establish an administrative child support obligation. This page provides information about the Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility. If you received a NFFR and still have questions after reading the information below, contact the Division of Child Support (DCS) at the phone numbers listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which DCS office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

In the state of Washington, the Office of Fraud and Accountability has delegated authority to conduct investigations related to allegations of fraud within programs administered by the Department of Social and Health Services. Investigations focus on Welfare eligibility issues and Vendor Fraud. Investigators coordinate with staff at the Community Services Offices statewide; with county prosecutors; and with local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies when necessary.


Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

When the employee's principal place of employment is Washington State, the priority of withholding is current support first, the health insurance premium second, and past-due support last. When the employee's principal place of employment is not Washington State, the employer will have to contact the child support agency in that state for priority information.

The Refugee Act of 1980 created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the U.S. Title IV, Chapter 2 of the Immigration and Nationality Act contains the provisions of the Refugee Act.

 

The U.S. government allows a certain number of refugees to come to the U.S. each year. Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are brought to the U.S. for resettlement by the U.S. Department of State. Voluntary agencies - VOLAG's and the Office of Refugee Resettlement - ORR  assist refugees with resettlement and integration into the U.S. Refugees are eligible to receive ORR benefits and services for up to five years beginning the first day they arrive in the U.S.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) also has the authority to investigate Vendor Fraud. A Vendor is a person or entity that has a legal contract with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide goods or services to DSHS or its clients. Sometimes these individuals or companies overcharge or bill for services not provided.

You can report Vendor Fraud by:

  • Faxing your written complaint to: ATTN: Vendor Fraud at 360-664-0032.
  • Mailing your written complaint to:  OFA Vendor Fraud, P.O. Box 45817, Olympia, Washington 98504-5817.

Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

Welfare Fraud is fraud against the programs of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), including unlawful practices in obtaining cash assistance, medical assistance, and/or food assistance. It is the intentional misstatement or failure to reveal information affecting eligibility resulting in an overpayment. For further information about fraud against DSHS, please review the Eligibility A-Z Manual Fraud Section, or see the entire EAZ Manual.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) has the authority to investigate the following allegations:

Unreported Employment: The client is suspected of not reporting employment.

Unearned Income: The client is suspected of not reporting the receipt of recurring income not derived from employment.

Unreported Assets: The client is suspected of having one or more of the following assets: Real estate, vehicles, boats, motor homes, non-recurring monetary holdings, etc.

Unreported Child Support: The client is suspected of receiving unreported child support payments.

Unreported Marriage: The client is suspected of not reporting a marriage that may affect the grant amount.

Absent Parent in Home: The client is suspected of not reporting the presence of an absent parent in the home. This includes stepparents.

Child Out of Home: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving benefits for a child not present in the home.

Household Composition: The client is suspected of receiving assistance for an ineligible dependent or has not accurately reported the correct number of persons living in the household.

Address Verification: The client is suspected of not reporting their address information correctly.

Duplicate Grants: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving grants under multiple names.

False Identity: The client is suspected of submitting false identification to apply for or obtain a grant; or may be working under a false identity.

Felony Drug Conviction/Warrant: The client is suspected of having a felony drug conviction after August 26, 1996, or is wanted on an outstanding felony warrant, which would make the client ineligible for welfare benefits.

Child Care Fraud: The client is suspected of improperly receiving child care payments or reporting a false provider.

EBT Fraud: The client is suspected of fraudulently using their Quest card or allowing their Quest card to be used by an unauthorized person.

Other: The client is suspected of any other improper procedure not covered by the other categories.


Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

In a hearing about your child support obligation an ALJ applies the Washington State Child Support Schedule in calculating your gross income, your net income, and your monthly child support obligation.

You may ask an ALJ to consider some or all of the following information:

  • What deductions, including the amount of income you may be putting aside for your retirement, should be considered in determining your net income.
  • Whether income from overtime or a second job should be included or excluded. The ALJ considers the reason a parent works the overtime or second job in making this decision.
  • Whether or not to impute income to you because you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
  • Whether there are circumstances which would make it unjust to apply the self-support reserve (low income limitation) in deciding the amount of the child support obligation.
  • Whether it is unfair or presents a hardship to the noncustodial parent to require the presumptive minimum payment of $50.00 per month per child, or why it would be unfair or would present a hardship to the custodial parent if the child support order was less than the presumptive minimum amount.
  • If the obligation for the noncustodial parent's biological and legal children exceeds 45 percent of his or her net income, whether there is "good cause" (a sufficient legal or factual reason) not to apply the 45 percent limitation.
  • Any other fact about either parent's particular situation that makes the noncustodial parent more or less able to provide child support than other people with a similar income and number of children, or that makes the custodial parent require more or less child support than other people with a similar income and number of children.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

  • If you are paying by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or using the Child Support Internet Payment System (CSIPS), follow the directions for that program.
  • If you are sending in a check, please give us the following information for each employee covered by your payment:
  • Employee name
  • Employee SSN or account number (listed on the OWI)
  • Payroll date
  • Total amount withheld from this employee's check
  • The OWI packet includes a form called "Employer Payment Identification Instructions." You can photocopy that and use it for future Payments, or you can download the form here

  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868

A child support order may include a financial support obligation, a medical support obligation, or both.

  • When DCS establishes an administrative child support obligation, the support order usually contains both a financial support obligation and a medical support obligation. The administrative order sets the medical support obligations for both parents of the children.
    • Financial support is the obligation to make monthly payments towards the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for the child or children.
    • Medical support includes the obligation to provide health insurance coverage or to pay a portion of any health care costs.
  • Under certain circumstances, a custodial parent who receives state medical assistance for a child or children may waive establishment of the financial support obligation. DCS will then establish an order for medical support only.
  • If DCS establishes an order for medical support only, either party may also seek to establish a current financial support obligation. That party must apply for full enforcement services and then petition to modify the existing order. DCS may also petition to modify the order when establishment of a current financial support obligation is required by Federal IV-D program rules.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).