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Working with Laws & Rules

Investigating Abuse & Neglect

Frequently asked questions about how the Department investigates allegations of abuse and neglect in licensed foster homes

How does the Department learn of abuse and neglect of children?

Anyone who suspects abuse and neglect of a child may call their local Children's Administration office or EndHarm (1-866-363-4276) to make a referral.

The law requires mandated reporters to report suspected abuse and neglect to CPS or local law enforcement.

What questions will I be asked if I make a report?

  1. The name, address and age of the child.
  2. The name and address of the child's parent, guardian or other persons having custody of the child.
  3. The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.
  4. Any evidence of previous incidences.
  5. Any other information which may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child's abuse or neglect and the identity of the perpetrator.

You do not need to have all of this information when you call to make a report, but the more accurate information you can provide, the better equipped the offices will be to assess the child's risk.

What are the timelines for Child Protective Service (CPS) investigations in licensed facilities?

Allegations of child abuse and neglect in licensed facilities are investigated by the Division of Licensed Resources Child Protective Services (DLR/CPS). The DLR/CPS investigator has up to 72 hours to make face to face contact with the alleged victim of child abuse. The investigator will notify the foster parents of the referral at the earliest point in the investigation that will not jeopardize child safety. Investigators usually have 45 days to complete an investigation. Investigations are not to exceed 90 days unless law enforcement is involved. At the end of the investigation, the investigator will send written notice of findings to the alleged subject and the parents of the alleged victim.

What is the difference between a CPS investigation and a licensing investigation?

The Division of Licensed Resources Child Protective Services (DLR/CPS) investigates concerns about child abuse and neglect as defined by law (RCW 26.44). These allegations are about physical abuse, sexual abuse, negligent treatment and/or maltreatment, abandonment, exploitation, and child fatalities. Licensing investigations are about licensing regulation violations (WAC 388-148). Some referrals may include both licensing violations and child abuse and/or neglect allegations. The licensor will follow up on any licensing concerns that come to the department's attention during either type of investigation.

Is there support for foster parents during an investigation?

Going through any kind of investigation can place stress on a family. When foster parents are being investigated for allegations of abuse and/or neglect or a licensing violation, the Foster Parent Intervention/Retention Support Team (FIRST) is available to provide support. Call FIRST at 1-253-219-6782.

Can the licensor or DLR/CPS investigator speak to foster children placed in my home without my permission?

Because foster children are in Children's Administration's care, CA social workers, including DLR investigators and licensors, may speak with foster children without your consent. DLR/CPS social workers investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect may also interview your biological and adopted children without your consent. However, they must notify you that they have interviewed your children as soon as possible as long as informing you will not jeopardize the safety of children or the investigation. Social workers investigating licensing violations need your consent to speak with your children.