The Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds (OFCO) continues to respond to the evolving circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. As Washington State’s child welfare system reacts to the rapidly changing situation, the OFCO is committed to assisting children, families, foster parents and agency partners to ensure services are accessible and information is provided in a timely manner. OFCO services, complaint investigation and information are available directly through this website or by calling 206-439-3870.
Temporary Changes to Services for Children and Families
Gov. Jay Inslee announced several new proclamations aimed at supporting the childcare workforce and reducing the risk of transmitting this virus between families and children in DCYF custody.
Waiving In-person Visitation and Remedial Services
This proclamation waives requirements for in-person visitation by children in the custody of the state Department of Children, Youth, and Family (DCYF) with family and DCYF caseworkers. It also waives requirements for DCYF to provide parents and children in child dependency cases with remedial services. The order will help prevent COVID-19 transmission between the foster parents, relatives, group homes, and others caring for children in DCYF’s custody. DCYF will issue emergency rules to bolster video visitation services for children in DCYF’s custody, so that they may interact with family remotely.
Private Parenting Plans Remain in Effect
Nothing in this order, or in the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, is intended to prevent compliance with a private parenting plan. Parents who are co-parenting under a parenting plan should communicate with one another during this difficult time in order to both maintain family relationships and to protect the best interests and health of each child.
Waiving Requirements for Child Care and Background Checks
This proclamation waives several requirements for licensed childcare workers, including requiring federal fingerprint background checks before completing the licensing process. This responds to an increased need for childcare during the COVID-19 emergency, increasing availability by allowing workers to be more easily licensed to provide care to those who need it.
COVID-19 and Foster Care Age Limits
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation to ensure that persons receiving extended foster care services don't "age out" at 21 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic.