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Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)

Washington State’s social service agency for children, families, and adults in need is the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Each year, DSHS serves more than 2.2 million children, families, and vulnerable adults who require protection, food assistance, financial aid, medical/behavioral health care, and other social services.


Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Integrated Client Database (ICDB)

The central, longitudinal, client database referred to as the Integrated Client Database (ICDB) is maintained by Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). It contains data representing more than 10 years of detailed service history, risks, costs, and outcomes. ICDB is used to: 1) support cost-benefit analysis, program evaluations, operational program decisions, geographical analyses, and in-depth research; and 2) strengthen service provision to children and families. The ICDB draws information from over 30 data systems across and outside of DSHS. It includes the following data for each client, by date: identifiers, service history and service cost across DSHS, demography, geography of residence and service, risk indicators, outcomes, birth and death records, medical diagnoses, medical costs, prescription drug use, alcohol and drug problems, mental illness indicators, homelessness, functional disability status, chronic health conditions, criminal justice encounters, incarcerations, employment status, and wages.


Also referred to as a ‘dependency proceeding,’ a ‘dependency action,' or a ‘dependency case,’a dependency is a temporary legal status of a child during which a parent may remedy his or her parenting deficiencies, or the court may order a different permanent plan than return home.  A dependent child is one who was abandoned, abused or neglected, or whose parents are incapable of adequately parenting such that the child is in danger of serious harm. If a child is removed from his or her parent’s care, a shelter care hearing must be held within 72 hours of the removal. If the court finds a child dependent, the court will decide where the child will be placed, what contact the child will have with parents and siblings, what services the parent must complete in order to remedy his or her parental deficiencies, and what permanent plan will be adopted for the child.


Diligent Search

A thorough search conducted by child welfare staff to locate a parent, relative, or other adult who could provide permanency or support for a child residing in foster care/out-of-home care is referred to as a ‘diligent search.’


Dispositional Hearing

After a child has been found dependent, a dispositional hearing is held by the juvenile and family court to determine the disposition of children. The child will either return home under agency supervision, or be placed in the custody of the state child welfare agency (legal custody) and then placed with a relative, with a suitable other person who has a relationship to the child, or in licensed foster care. The judge will also determine what services the children and parents should receive and will likely review the children’s case plan in which the agency has indicated which requirements the parents need to meet in order to have the children returned to their home.



See Racial Disproportionality and Disparity.

Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS)

In Washington State, Children’s Administration DCFS provides client services through 46 statewide offices in four primary areas: Child Protective Services (CPS), Family Voluntary Services (FVS), Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS), and Family Reconciliation Services (FRS). DCFS also provides services and supports to families at the request of the family or as directed by the courts. The Office of Indian Child Welfare (ICW) independently collects data on tribal members who receive child protective services, foster care, dependency guardianship, termination of parental rights, and adoption proceedings.

Division of Licensed Resources (DLR)

DSHS’s Division of Licensed Resources (DLR) licenses, supports, and monitors foster homes/out-of-home care facilities for children, and conducts CPS investigations regarding allegations of child abuse and neglect to children in licensed, certified and DSHS-operated facilities. DLR also licenses child-placing agencies, and provides assistance to those agencies that certify private agency foster homes. Licensing staff are charged with ensuring the health, safety, and quality of care for children in high quality foster family homes, group care facilities, and child placing agencies.

Domestic Violence Services/Program

In Washington State, the Domestic Violence Program provides support for community-based shelters, emergency counseling and legal advocacy for children and families who have experienced domestic violence. A statewide toll-free hotline is available to link victims with services in their communities. Children’s Administration also sets minimum standards for domestic violence perpetrator treatment programs and certifies these programs.


See Department of Social and Health Services.