CERTIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT
ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6702
2002 Regular Session
Passed by the Senate February 14, 2002
YEAS 46 NAYS 1
President of the Senate
Passed by the House March 5, 2002
YEAS 97 NAYS 0
I, Tony M. Cook, Secretary of the Senate of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6702 as passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on the dates hereon set forth.
Speaker of the
House of Representatives
Governor of the State of Washington
Secretary of State
State of Washington
ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6702
Passed Legislature - 2002 Regular Session
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2002 Regular Session
By Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections (originally sponsored by Senators Stevens, Hargrove, Long, Costa, Franklin, Kohl‑Welles, Carlson, Hewitt, Kastama, Johnson, Shin, Swecker, Hale, Rossi, Oke, Zarelli, McCaslin, Horn, Thibaudeau, West, Deccio, Rasmussen, Parlette, Sheahan, Benton, McDonald, Roach, T. Sheldon, Hochstatter, Honeyford, Morton, Finkbeiner and Winsley)
READ FIRST TIME 02/07/2002.
AN ACT Relating to protecting sibling relationships; amending RCW 13.34.025, 13.34.030, 13.34.060, 13.34.130, 13.34.136, 13.34.260, and 74.13.065; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. It is the intent of the legislature to recognize that those sibling relationships a child has are an integral aspect of the family unit, which should be nurtured. The legislature presumes that nurturing the existing sibling relationships is in the best interest of a child, in particular in those situations where a child cannot be with their parents, guardians, or legal custodians as a result of court intervention.
Sec. 2. RCW 13.34.025 and 2001 c 256 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
The department of social and health services shall develop methods for coordination of services to parents and children in child dependency cases. To the maximum extent possible under current funding levels, the department must:
(1) Coordinate and integrate services to children and families, using service plans and activities that address the children's and families' multiple needs, including ensuring that siblings have regular visits with each other, as appropriate. Assessment criteria should screen for multiple needs;
(2) Develop treatment plans for the individual needs of the client in a manner that minimizes the number of contacts the client is required to make; and
(3) Access training for department staff to increase skills across disciplines to assess needs for mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and other areas.
Sec. 3. RCW 13.34.030 and 2000 c 122 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
For purposes of this chapter:
(1) "Abandoned" means when the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian has expressed, either by statement or conduct, an intent to forego, for an extended period, parental rights or responsibilities despite an ability to exercise such rights and responsibilities. If the court finds that the petitioner has exercised due diligence in attempting to locate the parent, no contact between the child and the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian for a period of three months creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment, even if there is no expressed intent to abandon.
(2) "Child" and "juvenile" means any individual under the age of eighteen years.
(3) "Current placement episode" means the period of time that begins with the most recent date that the child was removed from the home of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian for purposes of placement in out-of-home care and continues until: (a) The child returns home; (b) an adoption decree, a permanent custody order, or guardianship order is entered; or (c) the dependency is dismissed, whichever occurs first.
(4) "Dependency guardian" means the person, nonprofit corporation, or Indian tribe appointed by the court pursuant to this chapter for the limited purpose of assisting the court in the supervision of the dependency.
(5) "Dependent child" means any child who:
(a) Has been abandoned;
(b) Is abused or neglected as defined in chapter 26.44 RCW by a person legally responsible for the care of the child; or
(c) Has no parent, guardian, or custodian capable of 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.
(6) "Developmental disability" means a disability attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or another neurological or other condition of an individual found by the secretary to be closely related to mental retardation or to require treatment similar to that required for individuals with mental retardation, which disability originates before the individual attains age eighteen, which has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely, and which constitutes a substantial handicap to the individual.
(7) "Guardian" means the person or agency that: (a) Has been appointed as the guardian of a child in a legal proceeding other than a proceeding under this chapter; and (b) has the legal right to custody of the child pursuant to such appointment. The term "guardian" shall not include a "dependency guardian" appointed pursuant to a proceeding under this chapter.
(8) "Guardian ad litem" means a person, appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child in a proceeding under this chapter, or in any matter which may be consolidated with a proceeding under this chapter. A "court-appointed special advocate" appointed by the court to be the guardian ad litem for the child, or to perform substantially the same duties and functions as a guardian ad litem, shall be deemed to be guardian ad litem for all purposes and uses of this chapter.
(9) "Guardian ad litem program" means a court-authorized volunteer program, which is or may be established by the superior court of the county in which such proceeding is filed, to manage all aspects of volunteer guardian ad litem representation for children alleged or found to be dependent. Such management shall include but is not limited to: Recruitment, screening, training, supervision, assignment, and discharge of volunteers.
(10) "Indigent" means a person who, at any stage of a court proceeding, is:
(a) Receiving one of the following types of public assistance: Temporary assistance for needy families, general assistance, poverty-related veterans' benefits, food stamps or food stamp benefits transferred electronically, refugee resettlement benefits, medicaid, or supplemental security income; or
(b) Involuntarily committed to a public mental health facility; or
(c) Receiving an annual income, after taxes, of one hundred twenty-five percent or less of the federally established poverty level; or
(d) Unable to pay the anticipated cost of counsel for the matter before the court because his or her available funds are insufficient to pay any amount for the retention of counsel.
(11) "Out-of-home care" means placement in a foster family home or group care facility licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW or placement in a home, other than that of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, not required to be licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW.
(12) "Preventive services" means preservation services, as defined in chapter 74.14C RCW, and other reasonably available services, including housing services, capable of preventing the need for out-of-home placement while protecting the child. Housing services may include, but are not limited to, referrals to federal, state, local, or private agencies or organizations, assistance with forms and applications, or financial subsidies for housing.
(13) "Shelter care" means temporary physical care in a facility licensed pursuant to RCW 74.15.030 or in a home not required to be licensed pursuant to RCW 74.15.030.
(14) "Social study" means a written evaluation of matters relevant to the disposition of the case and shall contain the following information:
(a) A statement of the specific harm or harms to the child that intervention is designed to alleviate;
(b) A description of the specific services and activities, for both the parents and child, that are needed in order to prevent serious harm to the child; the reasons why such services and activities are likely to be useful; the availability of any proposed services; and the agency's overall plan for ensuring that the services will be delivered. The description shall identify the services chosen and approved by the parent;
(c) If removal is recommended, a full description of the reasons why the child cannot be protected adequately in the home, including a description of any previous efforts to work with the parents and the child in the home; the in-home treatment programs that have been considered and rejected; the preventive services that have been offered or provided and have failed to prevent the need for out-of-home placement, unless the health, safety, and welfare of the child cannot be protected adequately in the home; and the parents' attitude toward placement of the child;
(d) A statement of the likely harms the child will suffer as a result of removal;
(e) A description of the steps that will be taken to minimize the harm to the child that may result if separation occurs including an assessment of the child's relationship and emotional bond with any siblings, and the agency's plan to provide ongoing contact between the child and the child's siblings if appropriate; and
(f) Behavior that will be expected before determination that supervision of the family or placement is no longer necessary.
Sec. 4. RCW 13.34.060 and 2000 c 122 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) A child taken into custody pursuant to RCW 13.34.050 or 26.44.050 shall be immediately placed in shelter care. A child taken by a relative of the child in violation of RCW 9A.40.060 or 9A.40.070 shall be placed in shelter care only when permitted under RCW 13.34.055.
(a) Unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of the child would be jeopardized or that the efforts to reunite the parent and child will be hindered, priority placement for a child in shelter care shall be with any person described in RCW 74.15.020(2)(a). The person must be willing and available to care for the child and be able to meet any special needs of the child. The person must be willing to facilitate the child's visitation with siblings, if such visitation is part of the supervising agency's plan or is ordered by the court. If a child is not initially placed with a relative pursuant to this section, the supervising agency shall make an effort within available resources to place the child with a relative on the next business day after the child is taken into custody. The supervising agency shall document its effort to place the child with a relative pursuant to this section. Nothing within this subsection (1)(a) establishes an entitlement to services or a right to a particular placement.
(b) Whenever a child is taken into custody pursuant to this section, the supervising agency may authorize evaluations of the child's physical or emotional condition, routine medical and dental examination and care, and all necessary emergency care. In no case may a child who is taken into custody pursuant to RCW 13.34.055, 13.34.050, or 26.44.050 be detained in a secure detention facility. No child may be held longer than seventy-two hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, after such child is taken into custody unless a court order has been entered for continued shelter care. The child and his or her parent, guardian, or custodian shall be informed that they have a right to a shelter care hearing. The court shall hold a shelter care hearing within seventy-two hours after the child is taken into custody, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. If a parent, guardian, or legal custodian desires to waive the shelter care hearing, the court shall determine, on the record and with the parties present, whether such waiver is knowing and voluntary.
(2) Whenever a child is taken into custody by child protective services pursuant to a court order issued under RCW 13.34.050 or when child protective services is notified that a child has been taken into custody pursuant to RCW 26.44.050 or 26.44.056, child protective services shall make reasonable efforts to inform the parents, guardian, or legal custodian of the fact that the child has been taken into custody, the reasons why the child was taken into custody, and their legal rights under this title as soon as possible and in no event shall notice be provided more than twenty-four hours after the child has been taken into custody or twenty-four hours after child protective services has been notified that the child has been taken into custody. The notice of custody and rights may be given by any means reasonably certain of notifying the parents including, but not limited to, written, telephone, or in person oral notification. If the initial notification is provided by a means other than writing, child protective services shall make reasonable efforts to also provide written notification.
Sec. 5. RCW 13.34.130 and 2000 c 122 s 15 are each amended to read as follows:
If, after a fact-finding hearing pursuant to RCW 13.34.110, it has been proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the child is dependent within the meaning of RCW 13.34.030 after consideration of the social study prepared pursuant to RCW 13.34.110 and after a disposition hearing has been held pursuant to RCW 13.34.110, the court shall enter an order of disposition pursuant to this section.
(1) The court shall order one of the following dispositions of the case:
(a) Order a disposition other than removal of the child from his or her home, which shall provide a program designed to alleviate the immediate danger to the child, to mitigate or cure any damage the child has already suffered, and to aid the parents so that the child will not be endangered in the future. In determining the disposition, the court should choose those services, including housing assistance, that least interfere with family autonomy and are adequate to protect the child.
(b) Order the child to be removed from his or her home and into the custody, control, and care of a relative or the department or a licensed child placing agency for placement in a foster family home or group care facility licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW or in a home not required to be licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW. Unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of the child would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child will be hindered, such child shall be placed with a person who is: (i) Related to the child as defined in RCW 74.15.020(2)(a) with whom the child has a relationship and is comfortable; and (ii) willing and available to care for the child.
(2) Placement of the child with a relative under this subsection shall be given preference by the court. An order for out-of-home placement may be made only if the court finds that reasonable efforts have been made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the child's home and to make it possible for the child to return home, specifying the services that have been provided to the child and the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, and that preventive services have been offered or provided and have failed to prevent the need for out-of-home placement, unless the health, safety, and welfare of the child cannot be protected adequately in the home, and that:
(a) There is no parent or guardian available to care for such child;
(b) The parent, guardian, or legal custodian is not willing to take custody of the child; or
(c) The court finds, by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, a manifest danger exists that the child will suffer serious abuse or neglect if the child is not removed from the home and an order under RCW 26.44.063 would not protect the child from danger.
(3) If the court has ordered a child removed from his or her home pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section, the court shall consider whether it is in the child's best interest to have contact or visits with siblings. The court must consider ordering that such contact or visits take place provided that:
(a) The court has jurisdiction over all siblings subject to the order of contact or visitation pursuant to petitions filed under this chapter;
(b) Contact or visitation is in the best interests of each child covered by the court's order; and
(c) There is no reasonable cause to believe that the health, safety, or welfare of any child subject to the order of visitation would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child would be hindered by such visitation. In no event shall parental visitation time be reduced in order to provide sibling visitation.
(4) If the court has ordered a child removed from his or her home pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section, the court may order that a petition seeking termination of the parent and child relationship be filed if the requirements of RCW 13.34.132 are met.
(5) If there is insufficient information at the time of the disposition
hearing upon which to base a determination regarding the suitability of a
proposed placement with a relative, the child shall remain in foster care and
the court shall direct the supervising agency to conduct necessary background
investigations as provided in chapter 74.15 RCW and report the results of such
investigation to the court within thirty days. However, if such relative
appears otherwise suitable and competent to provide care and treatment, the
criminal history background check need not be completed before placement, but
as soon as possible after placement. Any placements with relatives, pursuant
to this section, shall be contingent upon cooperation by the relative with the
agency case plan and compliance with court orders related to the care and
supervision of the child including, but not limited to, court orders regarding
parent-child contacts, sibling contacts, and any other conditions
imposed by the court. Noncompliance with the case plan or court order shall be
grounds for removal of the child from the relative's home, subject to review by
Sec. 6. RCW 13.34.136 and 2000 c 122 s 18 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Whenever a child is ordered removed from the child's home, the agency charged with his or her care shall provide the court with:
(a) A permanency plan of care that shall identify one of the following outcomes as a primary goal and may identify additional outcomes as alternative goals: Return of the child to the home of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian; adoption; guardianship; permanent legal custody; long-term relative or foster care, until the child is age eighteen, with a written agreement between the parties and the care provider; successful completion of a responsible living skills program; or independent living, if appropriate and if the child is age sixteen or older. The department shall not discharge a child to an independent living situation before the child is eighteen years of age unless the child becomes emancipated pursuant to chapter 13.64 RCW;
(b) Unless the court has ordered, pursuant to RCW 13.34.130(3), that a termination petition be filed, a specific plan as to where the child will be placed, what steps will be taken to return the child home, what steps the agency will take to promote existing appropriate sibling relationships and/or facilitate contact in accordance with the best interests of each child, and what actions the agency will take to maintain parent-child ties. All aspects of the plan shall include the goal of achieving permanence for the child.
(i) The agency plan shall specify what services the parents will be offered to enable them to resume custody, what requirements the parents must meet to resume custody, and a time limit for each service plan and parental requirement.
(ii) The agency shall encourage the maximum parent-child contact possible, including regular visitation and participation by the parents in the care of the child while the child is in placement. Visitation may be limited or denied only if the court determines that such limitation or denial is necessary to protect the child's health, safety, or welfare.
(iii) A child shall be placed as close to the child's home as possible, preferably in the child's own neighborhood, unless the court finds that placement at a greater distance is necessary to promote the child's or parents' well-being.
(iv) The agency charged with supervising a child in placement shall provide all reasonable services that are available within the agency, or within the community, or those services which the department has existing contracts to purchase. It shall report to the court if it is unable to provide such services; and
(c) If the court has ordered, pursuant to RCW 13.34.130(3), that a termination petition be filed, a specific plan as to where the child will be placed, what steps will be taken to achieve permanency for the child, services to be offered or provided to the child, and, if visitation would be in the best interests of the child, a recommendation to the court regarding visitation between parent and child pending a fact-finding hearing on the termination petition. The agency shall not be required to develop a plan of services for the parents or provide services to the parents if the court orders a termination petition be filed.
(2) If the court determines that the continuation of reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child from his or her home or to safely return the child home should not be part of the permanency plan of care for the child, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.
Sec. 7. RCW 13.34.260 and 2000 c 122 s 32 are each amended to read as follows:
In an attempt to minimize the inherent intrusion in the lives of families involved in the foster care system and to maintain parental authority where appropriate, the department, absent good cause, shall follow the wishes of the natural parent regarding the placement of the child. Preferences such as family constellation, sibling relationships, ethnicity, and religion shall be considered when matching children to foster homes. Parental authority is appropriate in areas that are not connected with the abuse or neglect that resulted in the dependency and shall be integrated through the foster care team. For purposes of this section, "foster care team" means the foster parent currently providing care, the currently assigned social worker, and the parent or parents.
Sec. 8. RCW 74.13.065 and 1995 c 311 s 26 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The department, or agency responsible for supervising a child in out-of-home care, shall conduct a social study whenever a child is placed in out-of-home care under the supervision of the department or other agency. The study shall be conducted prior to placement, or, if it is not feasible to conduct the study prior to placement due to the circumstances of the case, the study shall be conducted as soon as possible following placement.
(2) The social study shall include, but not be limited to, an assessment of the following factors:
(a) The physical and emotional strengths and needs of the child;
(b) Emotional bonds with siblings and the need to maintain regular sibling contacts;
(c) The proximity of the child's placement to the child's family to aid reunification;
(d) The possibility of placement with the child's relatives or extended
(e) The racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious background of the child;
(f) The least-restrictive, most family-like placement reasonably
available and capable of meeting the child's needs; and
(f))) (g) Compliance with RCW 13.34.260 regarding
parental preferences for placement of their children.
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