Alliance CaRES supports for allegations and investigations

Foster and kinship caregivers are often ready to jump in and assist whenever it is needed. However, we can struggle asking for that same support from others. This can be especially true when it involves an allegation related to the care, we give children in our homes. Shame and fear can also play a role in avoiding asking for help. Speaking with others can normalize the process and help alleviate some of the strong emotions caregivers feel while going through an investigation. 

Illustration of person talking on phone

Alliance CaRES Mentors and FIRST line staff are current and former foster parents. We’ve been there!  You can call your Mentor for support (email us if you need to be connected to a Mentor at or, if you’re looking for a confidential call, you can call the FIRST line (866-393-6186 toll-free).

The impact of the investigation may leave caregivers feeling extremely vulnerable and distressed. Taking care of yourself and your family in the middle of an investigation can be a challenge. Join other foster and kinship caregivers in one (or both) of our Supportive Facilitated Discussions on self-care. We also recognize the importance of support from fellow caregivers. These groups can help you make connections and grow your vital support network. As we continue to expand our offerings, check out if there is an in-person Community event near you.

It may feel like your social worker and/or licensor isn’t as readily available during the investigation process. This should not be perceived as the placement of blame. To avoid any conflicts of interest during the investigation process, Agency staff are not allowed to discuss the particulars of the investigation. They are still available for other case supports. Nonetheless, this can leave caregivers feeling isolated during the investigation process. Remember you are not alone. Your Alliance CaRES Mentors and FIRST line staff are just a phone call away.


Our local Mentors are dedicated to working alongside caregivers at every stage of your journey, providing guidance, access to resources, and support. They are experienced caregivers who are familiar with the support and services available in your region. Mentors can help you by providing emotional support, sharing their experiences, and connecting you to regional and state resources.  You can discuss allegations and investigation questions with your local Mentor. Mentors do not offer legal, medical, or mental health advice.

Investigations are stressful. Although they are a necessary process, it puts the foster family under considerable emotional strain. Foster Intervention and Retention Support Team (FIRST) line staff are here to listen!

Licensed foster parents may experience an investigation when someone makes an allegation against them. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) Licensing Division (LD) has a responsibility to look into these concerns. Most investigations do not result in a finding of abuse or neglect against a foster parent. However, these investigations can be a stressful time for you or your family. The FIRST Program provides neutral information and support to foster parents statewide.


How can we help through the FIRST Line? 

  We are accessible by telephone to:

  •  Explain the investigation process, including time frames. 
  •  Explain the difference between a Child Protective Service (CPS) investigation and a licensing complaint. 
  •  Listen to any anxieties you may have around the investigation process.  
  •  Assist you with ideas for the best ways to communicate your viewpoint to agency staff. 
  •  Talk to you and lend a supportive ear. 
  •  Advise you of community resources. 


Would you like to speak to a FIRST representative?
Call 866-393-6186 toll-free for FIRST support.
You will be prompted to leave a message, and someone will get back to you by the following evening.
View the printable brochure in English or Spanish.

FIRST staff are mandated reporters trained to advise and provide information to foster parents; they are not employed by DCYF. 

This flyer will walk you through what happens after an allegation of a licensed foster home has been received by DCYF. Child Protective Services Investigations In State-Regulated Care 

What is LD/CPS investigating when they investigate Child Abuse and Neglect? Can I tell the investigator what happened from my point of view? What are the possible outcomes or findings of an investigation? 

These are just some of the questions answered in LD/CPS Foster Home Specific Frequently Asked Questions 

Ever wonder what some of your obligations and rights are as a foster parent? These documents give a brief overview of some RCWs and WACs related to reporting responsibilities and rights as foster parents. Check out the section on Licensing Infractions and Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigations

Foster Parent Rights and Responsibilities

Reporting Responsibilities for Foster Parents

Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

Revised Code of Washington (RCW)   

While it is impossible to protect yourself against investigations completely; trainings are excellent at mitigating the risk against allegations. Visit The Alliance for Professional Development, Training, and Caregiver Excellence’s catalog for many offerings including trainings.  

These trainings can help prepare you to care for children who have experienced trauma: 
•  Fostering as Part of a Team: Supportive Facilitated Discussion
•  Caregiving for Children with Physically Aggressive Behavior Concerns
•  Caregiving for Children With Sexual Behavior Concerns 
•  Medication Management and Administration for Caregivers
•  Infant Safety and Care for Caregivers
•  So You Have a New Placement … Now What?

Despite your best efforts, foster kids sometimes get injured, incidents occur, and allegations against the caregivers happen. 

These trainings are specific to investigations and allegations: 
•  Introduction to the Investigative Process
•  Paper Trail: Documentation Training for Caregivers

Disclaimer: These resources are intended for general information only. Alliance CaRES does not provide specific direction, advice, or recommendations. Not all the information within is pertinent to Washington State’s foster care system.  

Articles to share with those who are supporting you:  
How to Be Emotionally Supportive 
4 Tips to Effectively Ask for Help—and Get a Yes 

Articles to help manage the stress of investigations:

Allegations Happen: How to Prevent and Survive Them: The author of this Foster Parent Journal blog post helps normalize the allegation process and offers strategies to help minimize stress. 

CPS: Implications for Foster Parents: Fostering Perspectives, a publication dedicated to improving foster care and adoption in North Carolina. This article covers the real possibility for every foster parent of being investigated.  

The Alliance CaRES offices are closed Monday, September 4th, in observance of Labor Day. Thank you caregivers, social workers, and staff for all you do to care for families, youth, and children!