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									Introduction to Child Welfare Law
in Washington

Tim Jaasko-Fisher
   Director, Court Improvement Training Academy
   University of Washington School of Law
   Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic
Most Referrals do not Become Dependency

Total Referrals
     - Screened out
         - Information only
              - Alternative Response Systems
                  - Voluntary Services/Placement

                      In 2004, less than 10% of referrals
                      resulted in out-of-home dependency
 Dependency Actions: Guiding Principles

   • Family unit is a fundamental resource
   • Family unit should remain intact unless
     child's right to conditions of basic nurture,
     health, or safety is jeopardized
   • When child’s right to safety and the legal
     rights of the parents conflict, child’s rights

RCW 13.34.020
  Dependency Actions: Guiding Principles

   • Child’s health and safety shall be the
     paramount concern
   • Rights of child include speedy resolution of
     court proceedings

RCW 13.34.020
   The Dependency Petition

   • Anyone may file a petition
   • Must address each parent, guardian or
   • Must address Indian status
   • Must allege that child meets the legal
     definition of “dependent child”

RCW 13.34.040
   A Dependent Child

   Is one who –
     A) Has been abandoned
     B) Has been abused or neglected
     C) Has no capable parent or guardian

RCW 13.34.030
 Children May be Taken into Custody By

   • Court order (pick up order)
   • Law enforcement protective custody (PC)
   • Agreement of parent (VPA)

RCW 13.34.050-.055
   Shelter Care Hearing

   •   Must occur within 72 hours of placement
   •   Court will appoint parents’ attorney
   •   Court will appoint GAL/CASA
   •   Court sets case conference

RCW 13.34.065
  Shelter Care Issues

   • Reasonable efforts to notify parents
   • Parents may agree to participate in
   • Placement of the child

RCW 13.34.065
   Court May Order Child Placed Out-of-
   Home if it Finds

   • Services have been offered to prevent or
     eliminate need for removal
   • No parent or guardian to care for child
   • Release of child to parent or guardian
     presents a serious threat of substantial harm

RCW 13.34.065
   If a Court Orders Placement, It Must

   • Place with an appropriate relative if available
   • Place with another suitable person if no
     relative is available
   • Review its order within 30 days

RCW 13.34.065
   Case Conferences

   • Held at least 30 days prior to fact finding
   • DSHS must develop a written service plan
   • Information exchanged at case conferences
     may not be used at fact finding

RCW 13.34.067
   Fact Finding Hearings

   • Hearing to be held within 75 days of petition filing
   • Only issue is whether child meets statutory
     definition of “dependent child” by “preponderance
     of the evidence”
   • Rules of evidence apply
   • Court must enter written findings

                       In 2004, less than 1% of dependency
                       petitions were dismissed without a
                       finding of dependency.

RCW 13.34.110
   Agreed Dependency Orders

    Subject to court’s approval following
     finding that parent knowingly and
     voluntarily entered into the
     agreement and understands its

RCW 13.34.110

   • May be delayed up to 14 days after fact
     finding for good cause
   • Court will enter orders regarding
       –   Placement
       –   Visits
       –   Services
       –   Permanent Plan

RCW 13.34.130
   To Order Out-of-Home Placement, a
   Court Must Find
      Reasonable efforts have been made to
      prevent removal from the home and either
       – There is no parent willing or available to care for
          the child, or
       – A manifest danger exists that child will suffer
          serious abuse or neglect if not removed.

RCW 13.34.130

    • Visitation with parents and siblings is a
    • Presumption that visitation is in child’s
      best interest
    • Visits may not be conditioned upon
      compliance with services/ cooperation
      with DSHS

RCW 13.34.136

    • Plan must set out clear requirements and
      timeline for completion
    • DSHS must provide all services
      reasonably available within agency or
      community or that department has
      existing contracts to purchase

RCW 13.34.136
   Review Hearings

   • Held every 6 months from placement episode
     or date dependency is established, whichever
     is sooner
   • 1st review must be within 90 days of

RCW 13.34.138
   What Does a Court Consider at a
   Review Hearing?
   • Have reasonable services been offered to facilitate
   • Is child placed in least restrictive setting with relatives?
   • Is there a continuing need for placement?
   • Have all parties complied with case plan?
   • Has progress been made toward correcting parental
   • Have parents visited and if not, why?
   • Are additional services necessary?
   • When will the permanency plan be achieved?

RCW 13.34.138
   Permanency Planning Hearings

   • Held every 9-12 months from date of
   • Court will consider same matters as for
     a review and will review
     the permanent plan

RCW 13.34.145
   Permanent Plans

   •   Return home
   •   Adoption
   •   Guardianship
   •   Permanent legal custody
   •   Long term relative or foster care
   •   Emancipation

RCW 13.34.136

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