External Link Policy


The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), "Department" recognizes that "external links" may be placed upon publicly accessible Internet Web pages operated by the Department.

The purpose of this policy is to clearly state that the Department website is not a public forum for communication and debate. Links to external websites are established and retained at Department's discretion. This policy provides guidelines on when links to external sources are inappropriate. These guidelines are in compliance with the DSHS Policy for External links  (PDF) on DSHS websites.

The purpose of the DSHS website is to communicate the Department’s mission and core set of values by supporting an informed, inspired and engaged citizenry.


"DSHS website" is the Internet portal operated and maintained by DSHS. It is not a forum for public communications and debate. The website is designed to provide information and links to other sites that provide information and government services. "DSHS Internet Properties", "DSHS Web pages", and "Web pages operated by DSHS" are those Web pages whose content is under the direction and control of DSHS, including, but not limited to, DSHS Administration, Division and Program provided internet sub-sites. "External links" means links to non-governmental Websites and all links to websites other than the DSHS Web properties.


This policy applies to the DSHS website and other DSHS Internet properties. Links to the following types of Web pages may be included in the DSHS website:

  • Other Governmental Units & Educational Institutions – DSHS may provide links to other federal, state, and local governmental units that provide additional services and information the DSHS website users may find of interest.
  • Private Organizations - DSHS may provide links to Private organizations if these organizations offer services that complement the Purpose, information and services offered by the Department and if the links meet the Acceptance Criteria stated in this policy.

The Department may provide links to websites that are not controlled, maintained, or regulated by the Department, and as such the Department is not responsible for the content of those websites.

Use of information obtained from External websites is voluntary. Any information obtained from an External website is not guaranteed by the Department and the user should review the accuracy of any information, before relying upon it. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise does not represent endorsement or recommendation by the Department.

Content Guidelines

In exercising its discretion to allow external content on Web pages it operates, DSHS will use the following Acceptance Criteria; DSHS will review every request and decide whether it is appropriate and relevant:

  • The External website corresponds with the Purpose of DSHS.
  • The External website is appropriate with respect to the Purpose of DSHS.  An inappropriate website may include but is not limited to:
    • A commercial website which charges a fee for products or services online;
    • A website  that exhibits hate, bias, discrimination, pornography, libelous or otherwise defamatory content;
    • A website that advocates or promotes the use of alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs;
    • A website that lobbies, advocates, or advances the policies and priorities of a particular industry, organization or enterprise. This includes sites of non-profit organizations;
    • A website that furthers the agenda of a political organization or candidate running for office;
    • A website that promotes or makes available adult or sexually oriented entertainment or materials;
    • A website that promotes, opposes, or makes available weapons or gambling.

Oversight and Monitoring

The Department has established procedures to monitor the implementation and continuing oversight of these guidelines. These procedures shall include:

  • A process for review of all new requests for external content links from a DSHS Web page to another Web page.
  • Ensure compliance with the DSHS Policy for External Content prior to granting the request.
  • A quarterly review of not less than seven (7) percent or a quantity of thirty-five (35) of the current direct external content links, whichever is less, to ensure that such links still comply with this policy.

Removal of Links

The Department reserves the right to deny links if it determines that a website contains misleading or unsubstantiated claims, conflicts with the Department's purpose or does not meet one or more of the criteria set forth in this policy.

Linking to the DSHS Website

Advance permission to link to the DSHS website is not necessary; however, website users should be aware that the DSHS website pages may change at any time without notice. Anyone linking to the DSHS website should continuously verify links to the site.

Anyone linking to the DSHS website shall not display DSHS Web pages within frames, present DSHS content as its own, or otherwise misrepresent DSHS content, and they should not misinform users about the origin or ownership of DSHS content. Certain information on the DSHS website may be trademarked; service marked or otherwise protected as intellectual property.

Request a link

If you believe you have a website that meets the criteria in this external link policy please complete the  DSHS Link Request Form.