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There are nearly 7,000 Children in Washington State who are currently in foster care, resulting in a need for safe, loving homes for children and youth who experience abuse and neglect.

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There are many misconceptions about who can become a foster parent. The truth is children need safe, loving homes with foster parents who will care for their needs and support families.

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There are so many different types of children that come into care. Some have different needs. You can choose to specialize and foster a certain age group or kids with specific needs like medically fragile.

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Getting licensed to become a foster parent takes just a few steps…

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Attend an orientation or Information Session

You can attend an Information Session hosted by DCYF online or a private agency orientation.

For support during the licensing process you can join the We Foster Wa - Becoming a Foster Parent Group on Facebook.

You can also find support through the Alliance CaRES.

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Choose if you want to get licensed directly through DCYF or with a private agency

The best route is the one that is best for you and your family. Private agencies can offer more individual support to foster parents, additional trainings and support groups. Some private agencies even specialize in serving specific demographics of foster kids. See chart below.

WA state provides support to caregivers through the Alliance CaRES program. This support is offered to all caregivers licensed directly through the state or through a private agency.

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Complete the trainings

The foster parent training consists of completing the Caregiver Core Training (24 hours) and completing the field experience (this is as easy as talking to a foster parent friend or attending a local support group.  You will also need to  get CPR/First Aid certified. 

Your licensor will help you stay on track with this process so that you can complete all the licensing requirements.

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Turn in your application

You will receive your foster parent application from DCYF or the private agency you choose. The applications are similar, but each organization has its own specific forms for you to complete.

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Wait for further instructions from your licensor

Your licensor will run your background check, send you information about how to get fingerprinted, complete a home inspection and complete a home study.

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Receive your foster care license

& get plugged into community

Once you receive your foster care license you can begin caring for kids. It’s important to have support as a foster parent. Some private agencies host support groups. (see chart) You can also find support through Compelled to Care, other local support programs and through the Alliance CaRES.

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Hear from some of the leaders who are a part of We Foster Wa explain the licensing process.

What if you’re not ready to go through the whole foster care licensing process, but you still want to provide a loving home for vulnerable children for a short period of time?


Safe Families for Children hosts vulnerable children and creates extended family–like supports for desperate families through a community of devoted volunteers who are motivated by compassion to keep children safe and families intact. This is a preventative program that has proven to keep kids out of the foster care system.

What if you’re not really looking to become a foster parent, but you really want to adopt out of foster care?


Antioch Adoptions licenses families and provide home studies for families who specifically just want to adopt legally-free children. Legally-free children are kids who are in the foster care system who are legally free to be adopted because all parental rights have been relinquished or terminated.

Antioch Adoptions generally licenses parents seeking legally free kids between four years old up to teenagers.

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