Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers - Washington

Date:

Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 74.15.030; 43.215.270; Admin. Code § 388-06A-0110

Background checks are required for the following persons and entities:

  • Agencies and their staff, volunteers, students, and interns
  • Prospective foster and adoptive parents
  • Any adult living in a home in which a child may be placed
  • Relatives by blood or marriage who will be caring for the child
  • Providers of child care and early learning services to children

In regulation: The Department of Children, Youth, and Families requires background checks on all providers who may have unsupervised access to children. The department requires background checks on the following people:

  • A volunteer or intern with regular or unsupervised access to children
  • Any person who regularly has unsupervised access to a child
  • A relative other than a parent who may be caring for a child
  • A person who is at least age 16 and resides in a foster, relative, or other suitable person's home and is not a foster child
  • A person who is younger than age 16 in situations in which it may be warranted to ensure the safety of children in out-of-home care

Per § 13.34.138, prior to returning a dependent child home, the department requires a background check on all adults residing in the home.

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 43.43.837; 74.15.030; Admin. Code § 110-04-0080

The background check shall include the following:

  • A fingerprint-based criminal history background check through the Washington State Patrol Identification and Criminal History Section and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • A review of child protective services information or records maintained in the department case management information system
  • For any adult living in the home who has not resided in the State of Washington for the preceding 5 years, a review of any child abuse and neglect registries maintained by any State in which the adult has resided over the preceding 5 years

In regulation: The background check may include, but is not limited to, the following information sources:

  • Washington State Patrol
  • Washington courts
  • The Department of Corrections and Department of Health
  • Civil adjudication proceedings
  • The applicant's self-disclosure
  • Out-of-State law enforcement and court records
  • Child protective services case files information or other applicable information systems
  • Administrative hearing decisions related to any department license that has been revoked, suspended, or denied

In addition to the requirements above, background checks conducted by the Children's Administration for placement of a child in out-of-home care, including foster homes, group care facilities, adoptive homes, relative placements, and placement with other suitable persons, include the following for each person over age 18 residing in the home:

  • Child abuse and neglect registries in each State in which a person has lived in the 5 years prior to conducting the background check
  • Washington State Patrol and Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint-based background checks regardless of the length of residence

A fingerprint-based background check is required on any individual who has resided in the State less than 3 consecutive years before application.

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 74.15.030; 26.33.190

The Secretary of Social and Health Services shall have the power and duty to do the following:

  • Obtain background information and any out-of-State equivalent to determine whether an applicant or service provider is qualified and to determine the character, competence, and suitability of an agency, the agency's employees, volunteers, and other persons associated with an agency
  • Conduct background checks for those who will or may have unsupervised access to children
  • Obtain child protective services information or records maintained in the department case management information system
  • Submit a fingerprint-based background check through the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for person requiring a background check
  • Investigate any person, including relatives by blood or marriage except for parents, for character, suitability, and competence in the care and treatment of children

If a child is placed with a relative, and if that relative appears otherwise suitable and competent to provide care, the criminal history background check required by this section need not be completed before placement but shall be completed as soon as possible after placement.

For a prospective adoptive parent, the agency, the department, or court-approved individual who is preparing the preplacement report shall include a background check of any conviction records, pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions. The background check shall include the following:

  • State and national criminal identification data
  • The child abuse and neglect history of any adult living in the home
  • Checks of the child abuse and neglect registries of all States in which the prospective adoptive parents or any other adult living in the home have lived during the 5 preceding years

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 110-04-0100; 110-04-0110; 110-04-0130; 110-50-0180; 110-06-0070

An applicant will be permanently prohibited from being licensed or certified if he or she has a felony conviction or any of the following:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other physical assault or battery
  • Any Federal or out-of-State conviction for an offense that under the laws of this State would disqualify a person from having unsupervised access to children in any home or facility

A applicant will be disqualified if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

  • Any felony physical assault or battery offense not included above
  • Any felony violation of a drug-related crimes, including, but not limited to, unlawfully manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver them or unlawfully using a building for drug purposes
  • Any Federal or out-of-State conviction for an offense that under the laws of Washington State would disqualify an applicant for no less than 5 years

The department will not license, contract, certify, or authorize a person to have unsupervised access to children who have a criminal charge pending for a disqualifying crime described in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) or a criminal charge pending for a disqualifying crime that relates directly to child safety, permanence, or well-being.

The department may exclude relatives who have criminal histories, as included in the ASFA regulations. The department may not approve a relative placement if the department finds that, based on a criminal records check, a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the relative or a member of the household has been convicted of a felony involving the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against a child or children, including child pornography
  • Crimes involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other physical assault or battery

The department may not approve a relative placement if the department finds the relative, or a member of the household, has, within the last 5 years, been convicted of a felony involving the following:

  • Physical assault or battery
  • A drug-related offense

A person will be disqualified from providing licensed child care, caring for children, or having unsupervised access to children receiving early learning services when the person has any of the following:

  • Any of the permanent convictions listed in Admin. Code § 110-06-0120(1) that permanently disqualifies an applicant
  • Any of the nonpermanent convictions listed in Admin. Code § 110-06-0120(2) that disqualifies an applicant for 5 years after the conviction date
  • An act, finding, determination, decision, or the commission of abuse or neglect of a child
  • A pending child protective services investigation
  • A 'founded' finding for child abuse or neglect