About Child Placement Agencies

Learn more about how Washington foster care relies on CPAs to help children thrive.


“She was so comforting and said all the right things. It was just great to have someone on a Sunday morning that I could vent to, and work through my own grief. It’s a gift.”

– Nancy (Foster Parent)

Providing adequate support for foster children, parents, and families takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources.

Much of this work typically falls to state caseworkers who have to balance a laundry list of tasks including managing placements, coordinating transitions, conducting regular check-ins, arranging visits, managing legal responsibilities and court orders, and arranging visits, just to name a few. This massive workload often does not leave them with the flexibility, time, or resources to provide the kind of support that foster children, their parents, and foster families need. That’s where Child Placement Agencies (or CPAs) come in.

CPAs support the work of the state agencies by supporting children, foster families and the state social worker. They are partners of the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) to have good outcomes for children and their families. Yet, their role is often misunderstood. This page is dedicated to clarifying the roles and benefits of CPAs.

The State of Foster Care in Washington State

There are thousands of children in foster care in Washington State, more than 8,800 as of January 2017. Over half of those children are under the age of five.

On average, children are in out-of-home care for a year and a half. Supporting them adequately takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources. For state social workers, meeting these needs isn’t easy. Here are just a few reasons why:

Overwhelming Caseloads

Though every child in foster care shares the experience of being separated from their families and their homes, their stories and situations are incredibly unique. State social workers often do not have the time to offer the kind of individualized support families need to thrive.

Lack Of Flexibility

State agencies work within a complex system where strict budgets and guidelines are necessary to maintain order and consistency. But, that also often means a lack of flexibility and resources, limiting state social workers from providing personalized support to the families and children they serve.

Difficulty With Unexpected Challenges

Before COVID-19, state agencies were already buried in large caseloads. But as the pandemic swept through Washington State, things only became more challenging.

Resources normally channeled through schools became restricted, in-person visits that supported reunification were reduced, and families had more concerns about placements due to health concerns. Managing those complications now and in the future — whether it’s a pandemic or a natural disaster or some other unexpected challenge — is nearly impossible when social workers already have little time to provide support.

CPAs exist to fill in the gaps state social workers cannot reach. They round out services so children have the direct help they need, foster parents are more supported, offer assistance to tackle unexpected challenges, provide personalized services that directly benefit children, families and foster families.

What is a Child Placement Agency (CPA)?

These private agencies recruit, and certify new families, place children in foster homes, and support the process of reunification. These are similar things state caseworkers do, but there is one key difference.

Because CPAs have smaller caseloads and more flexibility, they’re able to focus on developing meaningful personal relationships. The results are more personalized support for children, youth, families, and foster families, and relief for overwhelmed state caseworkers. Specifically, they help with:

Accelerating reunification – CPAs coordinate visits so that families can reunite faster. Because of the relationship CPAs have with the parents, children and foster families, they’re able to support visitation appointments more directly, and more effectively.

Stabilizing placements – When children cannot find stable placement it creates further trauma for the child, negatively affects developmental outcomes, chances for reunification, and their overall well-being. CPAs work to understand the unique needs of children and match them with foster families who are well-suited to provide for them.

Supporting Transitions – The foster care system is full of transitions, whether it’s reunification, adoption, exiting out-of-home care, or simply changing placement. CPAs provide one-on-one support that makes these transitions easier for youth and more successful for everyone involved.

Making Things Easier For Foster Parents – Because thousands of children enter out-of-home care every year, Washington State is always in need of more, qualified, well-supported foster parents. CPAs work closely with foster families from licensing through reunification.

Unlike state social workers many CPAs stick with foster parents between placements, so families can rely on working with someone who truly understands what they need in order to provide for a child in the best way possible.

Fostering United Teams: A CPA's Perspective

“It’s being able to take the time. It’s getting to know that child and getting to know that family, and then tailoring your support to them versus taking a cookie cutter approach to it.”

— Cindy Steele, Child Placing Agencies (CPA) Division Chair at WACF

Cindy Steele works for Catholic Community Services and is a volunteer Division Chair for WACF’s CPA organizations. For Steele, being a CPA is about sharing the load with state agencies, acting as a team to provide the best possible resources for families who need help.

“We all work in this really heavy environment. What we do is get to know our foster families really well, so we can support them through the emotional roller coaster they’re on,” says Steele.

Steele also empathizes with state workers, because she knows they have a tremendous amount on their plate. In her mind, it’s a team effort, whether that means supporting the social worker with the management of a case or collaborating on particularly difficult situations that could use a helping hand. “We get involved with state workers and team up so no one person has to carry it all on their own,” Steele shares. “We all want to do our best for each child and family.”

Introducing Washington's CPAs

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Amara is committed to positive long-term outcomes for children and families. We believe foster care should be about building resiliency and relationships. As a foster parent, you can make an impact in a family’s life, and Amara is here to help every step of the way, offering training, licensing, services, and ongoing support.
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Catholic Community Services

CCS is committed to providing a caring family for every child they serve. They offer 24/7 support and conduct home-licensing services for a wide variety of foster care types including community-based, pediatric interim, international, and therapeutic care.
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Children's Home Society of Washington

We are a small regional CPA program located in central Washington. We license and support a group of highly trained foster parents to meet the needs of children in out of home care across the DCYF timeline of care. We work with children from initial placement to reunification or adoption.
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Community and Family Services Foundation

Community & Family Services Foundation is dedicated to foster parents and the abused and neglected children they serve. They specialize in licensing and supporting foster parents who care for and nurture children who might be typically developing, or have high needs.
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Community Youth Services

Community Youth Services empowers youth-at-risk and their families to meet their goals for safety, stability, belonging and success by providing a continuum of individualized services and advocacy.
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Friends of Youth

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Friends of Youth helps young people in challenging circumstances get their lives back on track. Their 26 sites and programs in 18 cities across the Puget Sound region support 6,500 children, youth, and their families. Services include overnight shelters, in-home family support, foster care and transitional housing services among others.
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Hand in Hand

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Based in Spokane, Hand in Hand exists to foster hope and opportunity for children and families in crisis by providing services focused on protection, provision, and permanence. They offer night and weekend support for foster families, clothing, shoes, hygiene items, and visitation coordination through DCYF.
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James Matthew Commission

JMC provides Emergency Placement Services, Child Placement Services, Family Visits, and Case Aid. Our Emergency Placement Services provides children temporary, safe and stable housing while their social workers find permanent housing. The Child Placement Agency will recruit and certify new families, place children in foster homes, support the foster parents and the reunification process. Family Visits give youth time to interact with their parent or guardian as well as other siblings. Our Case Aid Services are caregivers that provide respite care for foster families and other caregivers in home or out of the home.
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Kid Sense LLC

Kid Sense LLC provides a community and family based Foster Care program with Foster Homes located through-out Washington State. First and foremost we are seeking really great parents. We acknowledge the challenges that come with raising children and realize there isn’t a one size fits all model for parenting. We support the approach that works best for you. Kid Sense homes represent a variety of backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, multi-lingual abilities, economic standings and belief systems. Kid Sense prides itself on successfully maintaining our foster homes until your end goal is reached. Once you join our family, you won't want to leave!
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Lutheran Community Services Northwest

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With offices throughout Washington state, Lutheran Community Services Northwest offers parenting education, child development activities, support groups, resource fairs, community referrals, and connections to basic needs like food, clothing, health care, housing, and employment.
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Olive Crest

Olive Crest is a faith based agency that works with foster families to provide emergency care, short and long term care, and specialized therapeutic care for children while working towards reunification with their family. Parents who choose to foster children through Olive Crest are partnering with an agency that will come alongside them every step of the way as they navigate the challenges and triumphs that come along with foster care. By providing support, guidance and training to our foster parents, we aim to ensure that every child who comes into care can be placed with a safe and stable family that will love and care for them until they return to their family or find permanency through adoption.
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Secret Harbor

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Secret Harbor works with youth who have experienced serious trauma due to abuse and neglect. With teams of caring adults and high quality, intensive services, Secret Harbor helps youth cope with trauma, regain trust in adults, and feel empowered to eventually rebuild their lives.
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Service Alternatives

Service Alternatives offers wrap around support services that are tailored specifically to meet the needs of the child and family. We offer a wide variety of services that are included in our case management services, case aide support along with 24/7 on-call crisis support and trainings.
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Skookum Kids

Skookum Kids takes a common-sense approach to help hopeful foster families navigate the licensing process and provide excellent foster care. They also facilitate child placement into families that fit with their needs and provide ongoing support for foster parents while they change lives.
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Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)

DCYF is the lead agency for state-funded services that support children and families to build resilience and health and to improve educational outcomes. They partner with state and local agencies, tribes, and other organizations in communities throughout Washington.
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YMCA of Greater Seattle - Social Impact Center

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The Y supports children and families experiencing foster care and licenses foster homes to provide care for young people ages 0-21. Their team has extensive experience in caring for children affected by trauma and provides wrap-around mental health services, including BRS. The Y also provides services to alumni of foster care to support their transition into adulthood.
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Youthnet offers educational and support services to children and families within the foster care system. Their services include transitional programs aimed at supporting youth as they transition from the foster care system into independent adulthood.
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When We Work Together, Families Thrive

WACF connects organizations looking to strengthen and support children and families in Washington State. Flexibility, a commitment to diversity, and the ability to build collaboration and community allows WACF to unify the voices of its members so they can work toward common goals.

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8264 Olmstead Lane SE #691, Snoqualmie, WA 98065-0316
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