State Seal

P.O. Box 40002 ∑ Olympia, Washington 98504-0002 ∑ (360) 902-4111 ∑



Dennis Braddock, Secretary, Department of Social and Health Services

FROM: Gary Locke, Governor
DATE: May 22, 2001
SUBJECT: Foster Parents' Rights

House Bill No. 1102, which I signed into law on May 15, 2001, establishes that foster parents have the right to be free of coercion, discrimination, and reprisal in serving foster children, including the right to voice grievances about treatment furnished or not furnished to the foster child. I strongly agree with these principles.

Unfortunately, I found it necessary to veto sections 2 and 5 of the bill because I believe they were flawed and would have unnecessarily created broad new liabilities for the state. However, because protecting the rights of foster parents is critically important, I am directing you to heighten your oversight of this issue. I want you to ensure that your department's relationship with foster parents supports their ability to nurture children in the state's custody, and that no foster parent is retaliated or discriminated against for voicing legitimate complaints against the department.

Please issue immediately, for full implementation by September 2001, a comprehensive statement of Foster Parents' Rights and Responsibilities. It should be based upon the Child Welfare League of America's model document entitled "Foster Parents' Rights and Responsibilities." The purpose of the statement is to provide guidelines to develop and strengthen relationships between foster parents and the department toward the mutual goal of fostering safe, healthy children. The statement should not create new private rights of action or claims on the part of any individual or entity, and must be consistent with current law.

Avoiding conflicts of interest is necessary to ensure that the children in the state's care are provided emotionally secure and safe environments. When you have a reasonable cause to believe that an employee has knowingly violated Section 4 of House Bill No. 1102, I expect you to immediately take appropriate disciplinary action under existing law and policies.

Furthermore, please amend or renew all contracts with entities that make out-of-home placement decisions to include requirements for compliance with Section 4 of House Bill No. 1102. Then, when you have a reasonable cause to believe that an employee of a contractor has knowingly violated the terms of such a contract, you must make sure that the contractor immediately takes appropriate disciplinary action.