Background Checks for Foster Care. State law requires background checks, which includes a fingerprint and a criminal history record check, when the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) seeks to approve an applicant or service provider for a foster care or adoptive placement.
DCYF pays fees charged by the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for foster care and relative or kinship care. DCYF does not pay the fees for employees of child placing agencies, group care, and contracted service providers.
Background Checks for Child Care. State law requires DCYF to conduct background checks on anyone who is authorized to care for or have unsupervised access to children in child care and early learning programs.
People who require a background check must pay for the cost of the check, including the fee established by the Washington State Patrol, the cost of obtaining a fingerprint, and a fee paid to DCYF for the cost of administering the individual-based or portable background check clearance registry.
DCYF must issue a background check clearance card or certificate if DCYF concludes the applicant is qualified for unsupervised access to children in child care. This card must be accepted by a potential employer as proof that the background check was successfully completed and is valid for three years.
DCYF must maintain an individual-based or portable background check clearance registry, subject to appropriation.
In the 2022 supplemental operating budget, the background check fee for child care providers was waived in fiscal year 2023.
Child Care Licensing Fees. Under state law, it is unlawful for any agency to care for children unless the agency is licensed by DCYF.
Before 2021, DCYF was allowed to charge fees to child care licensees. DCYF was also allowed to waive the fees when the fees would not be in the best interest of public health and safety, or when the fees would be to the financial disadvantage to the state.
DCYF must establish the fees charged by rule. The annual fee is $30 for family home providers. For child care centers, the annual fee is $125 for the first 12 children plus $12 for each additional child.
During the 2021 session, the Legislature prohibited DCYF from charging child care licensing fees until June 30, 2023.
Background Checks for Foster Care and Child Care. DCYF must pay the background check fees charged by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI for all foster care and child care applicants and service providers.
References to background check fees are removed from state law.
The background check clearance card or certificate is valid for five years, instead of three years, from the date of issuance.
DCYF must maintain an individual-based or portable background check clearance registry regardless of appropriations.
Child Care Licensing Fees. The prohibition on DCYF charging child care licensing fees is made permanent. This prohibition takes effect immediately.
PRO: Child care licensing and background check fees were waived during the pandemic to help provide stability, and these policies should be continued. Waiving these fees could also help speed up the background check process as well remove a financial barrier for potential employees. This policy should be coupled with funding to ensure that fingerprint checks can be completed at DCYF regional offices.
PRO: The childcare workforce is in crisis and experiencing poverty-level wages. Funding the waiver of licensing fees will help. Per background check fees, we encourage funding a fingerprinting office at DCYF, as requested in their Decision Package. This is a key issue for rural areas.
Timeliness of background checks impacts providers. We want to make sure to get the staff in the classroom as quickly as possible. We can lose them to other job opportunities. The current waiver is helping timeliness, as background checks can cause a 7 to 10 day delay in hiring. DCYF waits until receipt of payment before processing background checks.