Washington foster care and adoption guidelines


Thank you for your interest in foster care and adoption. Here you will find general information about foster care and adoption from foster care in Washington state. To find out more about adopting and fostering in Washington, you can either request to be contacted, or use the contact information below.

Contact information

Northwest Adoption Exchange
Phone: 800-927-9411
Email: nwae@nwresource.org

On this page:


Foster care or adoption licensing requirements


Training requirements

In Washington State, in order to adopt a child from foster care or provide foster care, you must complete an orientation and a pre-service training course called Core Training.

The training course is the same for:

  • Foster parents
  • Adoptive parents
  • Relative and kinship foster placements (i.e. people who have relatives in the foster care system and want to be the foster parent for these children who are related to them)

The classes are offered in locations throughout the state and cover a variety of topics having to do with the needs of children in the foster care system.

Adoption information

Children of all ages and descriptions need families to come forward and adopt them. In adoption, children join your family permanently. To meet this need, we are looking at all kinds of families. What is most important to these children is to be placed with a family who will nurture them, who will advocate for them, and who will not give up on them.

Who can adopt? You can be single, married, or in a committed relationship. You can own your own home or rent. You can have parented before or be new to parenting. You don’t have to have a large income. Families are sought on the basis of their ability to successfully parent a child and not on their race, ethnicity, culture, income, age, marital status, religion, appearance, or lifestyle.

Foster care information

Foster parents provide a temporary home for children who, for one reason or another, have been removed by the court from the care of their birth parents. These children are in the temporary custody of the State (the Department of Children, Youth, and Families) while their parents are given the opportunity to complete services that will allow the children to be returned home if this is in the best interest of the child. Most children who enter foster care return to their birth families.

In some cases, the birth family is not able to successfully complete services and the court permanently deprives them of their parental rights. In these cases, if another birth relative is not available to adopt the child, the child will need an adoptive family. If this occurs, foster parents are asked if they would like to adopt the child. If you prefer to foster without adopting, you can choose to do so.

For more information regarding foster home licensing, visit the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

Costs to foster and adopt

Foster care

There are no fees for becoming a foster parent.


Families who adopt through the state may be asked to get licensed for foster care first, which is free. The state has a number of families who are foster licensed and are identified as foster or adopt (or fostering with the potential to adopt) families. These families are frequently used for the placement of children where the plan for the child is adoption once parental rights are terminated. Once the child is legally free for adoption, and the foster or adopt family wants to adopt children that they have been fostering, then the state will do the family’s adoptive homestudy at no charge.

Private adoption agencies charge fees for their services which usually include completion of the homestudy, placement, and post placement services. Families should inquire directly with an agency as to their fees, programs and services.

If you are worried about fees: Adoption fees for the placement of children who are in the foster care system are usually well below the fees encountered for an international adoption or for the adoption of a healthy newborn. Families who adopt children from foster care may also qualify to have a portion of their adoption costs reimbursed by the Washington State Adoption Support Program.

Agency contact and orientation information

Adoption and foster parenting pre-service classes

Both of the classes (orientation and pre-service) are free of charge. In some areas the two classes are offered separately and in others they are offered together. Together they total 30 hours of training. When offered separately, the orientation is usually three hours long, and the pre-service training is 27 hours long. At the conclusion of the classes, a certificate of completion is awarded. This certificate is accepted by both the state agency and private adoption agencies and ensures that a family has successfully completed pre-service requirements. Locate the nearest orientation and class to you.

Agency contact information

Post-adoption support services

See a comprehensive list of post-adoption and guardianship support services and support groups available to families who live in Washington State.

Information on Washington's children

There are 10,068 children in foster care in Washington; 2,167 of these children are waiting for adoptive families.

Most of the children awaiting adoption reside in foster care. Some are in group homes. They are mostly school age children. Some are part of a sibling group and need to be adopted together. Some are part of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority. All have suffered major losses because they had to be removed from their birth family.