• The primary role of Office Parents is to provide supervision of children who are awaiting placement after an emergent removal.
  • Office Parents can also be called upon to provide supervision for children during FTDM meetings.

Contact Information

You need to contact DSHS to sign up to be an Office Mom or Dad. 

Please contact Joni Startin

Office Parents Coordinator

  • Office: 509-363-3555
  • Cell: 509-344-9914
  • Email: startjr@dshs.wa.gov

Procedure for Requesting An Office Parent

When there is a need for an Office Parent to support a child, DSHS follows this procedure:

  1. CPS alerts Coordinator when there is a need for an Office Mom or Dad.
  2. Coordinator sends out a text message to Office Moms and Dads who are available on that day.
  3. All Office Parents respond to the text message and to confirm their availability.
  4. If an Office Parent is not available, the DSHS coordinator will keep working their way down the list until the coordinator finds an available Office Parent.

Accepting A Request for An Office Parent

If you choose to take the request, the coordinator will text you the pertinent information regarding the children such as:

  • Ages
  • Special needs
  • Time of arrival
  • Social Worker Contact Information

Arrive at the Office

  1. Tell the receptionist that you are an Office Parent and to please contact the DSHS to let them know you have arrived.
  2. Ask the receptionist to provide you with the cell phone number of your DSHS contact, for use in emergencies.
  3. Sign in at reception.
  4. Go to the Volunteer and Transport Office and receive your assignment to pick up the child in need of supervision.
  5. Put on an Office Parent button.

While You Are With the Child

  1. Introductions introduce yourself by name and tell the child you are there to keep them company or play with them; adjust your introduction so that it is age appropriate.
  2. Escort the child to pick out a Care Package.
  3. Contact your DSHS contact if you need help!

Bathroom Procedure

Accompany children to the Inner Office bathroom only.  Do not use bathroom accessible to lobby.

Use the following guidelines for supervising a child using the bathroom:

  • 6 years and under, wait outside the stall for them
  • 7 years and up, wait outside the restroom for them
  • Wear gloves for all diaper changes; gloves are available in the Volunteer Transportation Office

Ending Your Shift

  1. Contact your DSHS Contact and let them know you are leaving.
  2. Return your button to the Volunteer Transportation Office

Pitfalls and Practical Advice

Getting Attached

  • Some kids will like you so much they will want to go home with you.
  • Try to focus on getting them excited to go to their new foster home.  
  • Other times you will want to take them home yourself; do not do this!
  • If you are interested in caring for a child on a long term basis we encourage you to become a foster parent.
  • Talk to your DSHS Contact for more information.

Feeling Lost  

  • DSHS offices are confusing!  
  • It will take some time to get acclimated, so be patient with yourself.  
  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help!

Feeling Unappreciated or Put Upon

  • You are doing the social worker a great service by caring for their kid(s), and they are thankful for you! 
  • If you need to go, contact your DSHS contact and let them know.
  • If you need a break, contact your DSHS contact and let them know.
  • If the child is getting to be too much, ask for help.  
  • Communication is key and no one will fault you for self-advocating.

Do Not...

  • Initiate conversations about God/religion
  • Ask about the situation they have been removed from.
  • Breaking the ice with something crass or tasteless “So… what are you in for?” would be both tasteless and insensitive, not humorous.
  • Enforce discipline or use physical restraint


Our job is to distract and entertain!  If there is a problem PAGE/TEXT YOUR DSHS contact.


·        Report ANYTHING you feel is pertinent to the case. 

§  Passing comments from the child or stories about her home life

§  Any bruises or owies you think the SW might not have seen

§  Any mention of relatives (Could be important in finding a home for them)

Remember: you are not an Investigator, so don’t initiate these conversations, but if you happen upon this or other information that you feel is important, you must report it to the social worker or DSHS contact.

Commonly Used Acronyms           

DSHS: Department of Social and Health Services

CA: Children’s Administration

CPS: Child Protective Services

CFWS: Child and Family Welfare Services

PC: Protective Custody

FTDM: Family Team Decision Meeting

FC: Foster Care

FH: Foster Home

FP: Foster Parent

DV: Domestic Violence

SW: Social Worker