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Washington state's new solution for foster parents and child care

Every year, Washington state struggles to find placements for hundreds of foster care kids. One problem is that a lot of licensed foster parents in Washington can’t take in kids under 5.

Washington has about 8,000 children in foster care. The rule barring some parents from taking in kids younger than 5 is because, if both foster parents work, they need to find child care during the day. In Washington, and nationwide, there’s a child care shortage and long waitlists at licensed centers, so foster parents can’t find a spot on short notice.

A new rule aims to address this issue and just took effect at the start of the year.

The state has reversed a previous rule to address the shortage of both foster parents and child care in the state. The previous rule did not allow foster parents to provide in-home child care and also did not allow in-home child care providers to become foster parents.

The change this year streamlines the process for foster parents to become licensed to run in-home daycares, and it also makes it easy for people who run in-home day cares to become licensed foster parents.

The idea is to make it possible for foster parents to quit their day jobs and take care of their foster kids during the day. Foster parents who start in-home day cares can also help out other foster parents, if they want.

Since 2020, the state has run a pilot program of the new licensing rules. During that time, 15 people got dual licenses. More than half of them are Latino or Native American.

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