3 Sources of State Law Washington State Constitution Executive Branch Legislative BranchJudicial BranchExecutive OrdersRegulations (WAC)- Statutes (RCW)- Court Opinions
4 THE SUPREME COURT 9 Justices with Six-year staggered terms - All juvenile matters are reviewed at the court’s discretionTo get reviewed, case must have constitutional issues, conflict in appellate law, orbe of significant public importance.COURT OF APPEALS Judges with Six-year staggered termsDivision I (Seattle); Division II (Tacoma); Division III (Spokane)Reviews many dependency cases as a matter of rightSome types of orders are reviewed on a discretionary basis- Review is done “on the record”SUPERIOR COURT Judges with Four-year terms; Commissioners by AppointmentOne in most every county (two in King)- Court of General Jurisdiction Trial Court- Juvenile Court Domestic RelationsCOURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION Judges with Four-year terms District and Municipal courtsDV Protection Orders Misdemeanor Criminal Cases
5 All abuse and neglect cases start with a referral. - Community MembersMandatory ReportersPhysiciansLaw EnforcementService ProvidersSocial Workers
6 Most referrals do not become dependency cases. Screened Out -- Information Only -- Alternative Response Systems -- Voluntary Services / Placement -
7 A dependency proceeding is a process which provides a procedural mechanism to balance the parent’s fundamental constitutional rights with the state’s interest in protecting children believed to be abused or neglected. If you understand the process, you will be better able to serve children and families, and can use the process to help achieve safe, permanent homes for kids in a timely manner.
8 The Dependency Petition Anyone may file a petitionThe petition must address each parent, guardian, or custodianThe petition must address Indian statusThe petition must allege that a child meets the legal definition of “dependent child”.
9 An Indian child is someone under 18 years of age who: Is a member of a tribe ORWhose parents are tribal members if the child is eligible for membership
10 A dependent child is one who: (a) Has been abandoned(b) has been abused or neglected(c) has no capable parent or guardian
11 Abandonment means: an expressed intent by statement or conduct to forgo for an extended periods of time parental rights or responsibilities despite an ability to exercise such rights.
12 Abuse and neglect is an injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or mal treatment by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health, welfare, or safety is harmed.
13 An incapable parent is one who: Is unable to adequately caring for the child, such that the child is in circumstances which constitute a danger of substantial damage to the child's psychological or physical development.
14 Children May Be Taken Into Custody By court order (pick up order)law enforcement protective custody (PC)Agreement of the parent (VPA)
15 To issue a pick up order, a court must find: A dependency petition and sworn statement supporting the pick up order has been filedThere are reasonable grounds to believe the child’s health, safety, or welfare will be seriously endangered if not taken into custodyThere are reasonable grounds to believe the child is dependent
16 Law Enforcement may take a child into protective custody if There is probable cause to believe that the child is abused or neglectedANDThe child would be injuredORThe child could not be taken into custody if it were necessary to first obtain a court order
17 Shelter Care Hearing Must occur within 72 hours of placement Court will appoint parents attorneyCourt will appoint GAL / CASACourt may set case conference
18 Shelter Care Issues Were reasonable efforts made to notify parents Parents may agree to participate in servicesPlacement of the child
19 Court may order child placed out of home if it finds: Services have been offered to prevent or eliminate need for removalNo parent or guardian to care for childRelease of the child to the parent or guardian presents a serious threat of substantial harm to the child
20 If a court orders placement, it must Place with an appropriate relative if availablePlace with anothersuitable person if norelative is availableReview its order within 30 days
21 Case Conferences Held at least 30 days prior to fact finding DSHS must develop a written service planInformation exchanged at case conferences may not be used at fact finding
22 Fact Finding HearingsHearing must be held within 75 days of petition being filedOnly issue is whether child meets statutory definition of “dependent child” by a preponderance of the evidenceRules of evidence applyCourt must enter written findings
23 Agreed dependency orders are subject to approval of the court, and the court must find that the parent knowingly and voluntarily entered into the agreement and understands the consequences of the agreement.
24 DispositionMay be delayed up to 14 days after fact finding for good causeCourt will enter orders regarding:PlacementVisitsServicesPermanent Plan
25 PlacementCourt may order a disposition other than removal from the homeIf Court orders child placed out of home, child must be placed with:a) relative willing and able to care for the child whom the child has a relationship and is comfortableb) licensed carec) other suitable person
26 To order out of home placement, a court must find: Reasonable efforts have been made to prevent removal from the home ANDThere is no parent willing or available to care for the child OR the court finds by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that a manifest danger exists that the child will suffer serious abuse or neglect if not removed
27 Visits:Visitation with parents and siblings is a right.There is a presumption that visitation is in the child’s best interest.Visits may not be conditioned upon compliance with services / cooperation with DSHS
28 Services:Order must set out clear requirements and timeline for completion.DSHS must provide all services reasonably available within the agency or the community, or that the department has existing contracts to purchase.
29 Permanent plans include: Return homeAdoptionGuardianshipPermanent legal custodyLong term relative or foster careResponsible living skills programIndependent living / Emancipation
30 Modification of orders requires the filing of a motion which makes a threshold showing of a change in circumstances.ORIf you want the judge to change the rules in the case, you have to show that something in the case is different since the last time the judge set out the rules.
31 Review HearingsHeld every 6 months from placement episode or date dependency is established whichever is sooner.1st review must bewithin 90 days of dispo.
32 What does a court consider at a review hearing? Have reasonable services been offered to facilitate reunification?Is the child placed in the least restrictive setting with relatives?Is there a continuing need for placement?Have all parties complied with the case plan?Has progress been made toward correcting parental deficiencies?Have parents visited and if not, why?Are additional services necessary?When will the perm. plan be achieved?
33 Permanency Planning Hearings Held every 9-12 months from date of placementCourt will consider thesame matters as fora review and will reviewthe permanent plan
34 Permanent plans Return home Adoption Guardianship Permanent legal custodyLong term relative or foster careResponsible living skills programEmancipation
35 Return HomeCourt must find parent is compliant with case plan, court orders, and treatment to order a child returned home.Child must be returned home under court supervision for 6 months prior to dismissal of the case.
36 Termination of Parental Rights / Adoption Prior to adoption all parents rights must be terminated or relinquished.A termination petition starts a separate but related action from the dependency.
37 In a termination case, the state must prove by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that: The child is dependentA disposition plan has been enteredThe child has been removed from the parent’s custody pursuant to an order of dependency for 6 months
38 Termination (cont)All services ordered and all necessary services reasonably available have been offered or providedLittle likelihood that parent will remedy parental deficiencies in the near futureContinuation of parent-child relationship diminishes child’s prospects for early integration into a permanent and stable home
39 Termination (cont)Court must find all 6 factors by clear, cogent, and convincing evidenceCourt must also find by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest.
40 Dependency Guardianship Court must make same findings as in Termination of parental rights by a preponderance of the evidenceCourt must find that guardianship, rather than termination of parental rights or continued efforts to reunify is in the child’s best interest
41 Permanent Legal Custody This is a separate actionState is not a party to the actionParties must hire their own lawyerNo right to counsel by parentDependency dismissed once custody order is enteredLimited financial support to family
42 Other Plans Long term foster / relative care Responsible living skills Emancipation
43 Appeals 1st level is to court of appeals (6-9 months) May ask for Supreme Court review(2 -12 months)