4308. Dependency Petition Process

Approval:  Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 

Revised Date:  July 1, 2018

Policy Review:  July 1, 2021


Purpose

Provide direction for caseworkers in filing a dependency petition when it is clear that court intervention is necessary to prevent harm to a child’s health, welfare, or safety.

Scope

This policy applies to Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworkers.

Laws

RCW 13.34.030  Definitions

RCW 13.34.040  Petition to Court To Deal With Dependent Child – Application Of Federal Indian Child Welfare Act

RCW 13.34.050  Court Order to Take a Child into Custody

RCW13.34.055  Custody by Law Enforcement Officer

RCW 13.34.060 Shelter Care – Placement – Custody – Duties of Parties

RCW 13.34.062 Shelter Care – Notice of Custody and Rights

RCW 13.34.065 Shelter Care – Hearing – Recommendation as to Further Need

RCW 13.34.080 Summons When Petition Filed

RCW 13.34.090 Rights under Chapter Proceedings

RCW 26.44.050 Abuse Or Neglect Of Child—Duty Of Law Enforcement Agency Or Department Of Social And Health Services—Taking Child Into Custody Without Court Order, When.

RCW 26.44.056 Protective Detention or Custody of Abused Child—Reasonable Cause—Notice—Time Limits—Monitoring Plan—Liability.

RCW 74.14A.020  Services For Emotionally Disturbed and Mentally Ill Children, Potentially Dependent Children, And Families-In-Conflict.PL 114-95  Elementary and Secondary Act Of 1965

Policy

DCFS caseworkers must:

  1. Consult with the assigned supervisor when court intervention is needed to prevent harm to a child’s health, welfare, or safety. If the assigned caseworker and supervisor determine that a dependency petition should be filed, contact the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) or assigned attorney for their office and work with them in assessing legal sufficiency and in finalizing the petition.
  2. If there is disagreement about legal sufficiency, consult with the supervisor and area administrator to determine whether to continue efforts to file a dependency petition. 
  3. If there is legal sufficiency, finalize the petition recommending one of the following:
    1. In-home placement;
    2. Out-of-home placement with a motion for order to take a child into custody; or
    3. Out-of-home placement if a motion for order to take a child into custody is not required. A motion is not required if the child is already placed in protective custody or on an administrative hold.
  4. Provide records for discovery, including child forensic interview transcriptions, prior to shelter care and include all information used in the determination to file the dependency petition.
    1. If a parent, legal guardian or legal or Indian custodian is represented by an attorney, provide them with redacted copies of the CA records.
    2. If a parent, legal guardian or legal or Indian custodian is not represented, provide them with a redacted copy of their CA records.
    3. If court ordered, provide a copy of a child forensic audio or video recording according to the Audio Recording policy.
    4. If a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is appointed, provide redacted copies of the CA records to the GAL/CASA.
    5. Provide a redacted and unredacted copy of the CA records to the assigned AAG or assigned attorney.
  5. If a dependency petition is filed complete the following:
    1. If there is reason to know the child is or may be a member, and the biological child of a member and eligible for membership of a federally recognized tribe, follow Indian Child Welfare policies and procedures Chapter 6. Casework Activities for Court Proceedings for legal notification requirements to the parent, legal guardian, Indian custodian, tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
    2. If recommending an in-home placement:
      1. Make reasonable efforts to notify the parent, legal guardian, or legal or Indian custodian of the date, time and location of the initial dependency hearing.
      2. Provide the parent, legal guardian or legal or Indian custodian with a copy of the dependency petition and the Parent’s Guide to Child Protective Services (CPS) DSHS 22-484 that contains information about parent’s rights.
      3. Attend and present testimony at court hearings as needed.
      4. Make good faith efforts and document the efforts to comply with all court orders. If compliance is not possible:
        1. Consult with the supervisor and assigned AAG or attorney, and
        2. With the AAG or attorney, explore all available legal options, including any of the following:
          1. Revision
          2. Reconsideration
          3. Modification of the court order by agreement or order of the court
    3. If recommending an out-of-home placement and CA has legal authority of the child via an order to take the child into custody, protective custody, or an administrative hold:
      1. Schedule a shelter care hearing within 72-hours of the child being placed into CA custody, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
      2. Make reasonable efforts as soon as possible to notify and provide the custodial and non-custodial parent, legal guardian, or legal or Indian custodian with all of the following:
        1. The child has been taken into custody.
        2. Reasons why the child was taken into custody.
        3. The Parent’s Guide to Child Protective Services (CPS) DSHS 22-484.  
        4. General information about the child’s placement.
        5. Temporary Custody Notification to Parents form DSHS 09-731. This form includes the Parent’s rights to a shelter care hearing and is located on the CA intranet. 
        6. A copy of the dependency petition and any court order authorizing the child to be placed into CA custody.
      3. Attend and present testimony at court hearings as needed.
      4. Make good faith, documented efforts to comply with all court orders. If compliance is not possible:
        1. Consult with the supervisor and assigned AAG or attorney, and
        2. Explore all available legal options, including any of the following:
          1. Revision
          2. Reconsideration
          3. Modification of the court order by agreement or order of the court
      5. Follow Placement Out-of-Home and Conditions for Return Home policy.
      6. Follow Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) policies when a child is placed out-of-state or placed in Washington State through the ICPC.
      7. If the child cannot be located and is not taken into CA custody, consult with your supervisor and AAG or attorney assigned to your office and continue efforts to locate according to DSHS 02-607 Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents.
      8. If the parent cannot be located:
        1. Continue efforts to locate according to DSHS 02-607 Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents.
        2. Contact your supervisor to use Support Enforcement Management System (SEMS) to help locate parents. See the SEMS Quick Help Guide on the CA intranet.
        3. Consult with the AAG and provide information needed for the publication process. RCW 13.34.080
  6. Follow the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) policy when working with a parent or child with LEP.
  7. Follow the Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) meeting policy.
  8. For children in shelter care status, follow Shelter Care Case Conference policy to provide an opportunity to develop and specify the expectations of CA and the parent, legal guardian, or legal or Indian custodian regarding the care and placement of the child. 
  9. After a shelter care hearing
    1. If the court places the child into shelter care, verify that the court has entered an order authorizing continued shelter care within 30 calendar days of the child’s original placement date (OPD).
    2. Notify the child’s parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian, Indian custodian and tribes of all court proceedings according to the local court’s rules, and consult with the assigned AAG or attorney.
    3. Follow Notification of Court Hearings, Providing Reports to Court, and Information Sharing with Out-of-Home  policy and notify all licensed and unlicensed caregivers of the hearings at the same time as notice to the parent, legal guardian, or legal or Indian custodian. For emergency hearings, notice to caregivers should occur as soon possible. For the six-month review and annual permanency hearings, notice to caregivers should occur upon placement or as soon as possible.
    4. Provide written, telephone, or in-person notice to licensed and unlicensed caregivers of their right to be heard at proceedings.
    5. Complete the first court report no later than ten business days before the Dependency Disposition hearing or by the 60th day of the child’s OPD, whichever comes first.
    6. Contact the assigned AAG or attorney to schedule an administrative hearing or judicial determination for any case in which the child is in out-of-home care for more than 180 calendar days.
    7. If a child is returned home from shelter care a second time:
      1. Request a law enforcement officer to be present when the child returns home. The officer is required to file a report with CA confirming the child was returned, with documentation about what the officer observed according to RCW 13.34.065(8).
      2. The supervisor may also reconvene a multidisciplinary team meeting.
  10. Document the completion of and efforts to complete the following:
    1. Reasonable efforts to locate and notify parents, guardians, or legal or Indian custodians.
    2. Active efforts to locate and notify tribes, if applicable.
    3. Notification to all parents, guardians, or legal custodians, Indian custodians and tribes, if applicable, and caregivers of the times and location for all court hearings.
    4. Provision of discovery to the parents, legal guardians, or legal custodians, CASAs/GALs, legal counsel, and Indian custodian and tribes, if applicable.

Resources

Located on the CA Internet 

Forms

Located on the CA intranet

  • Child Safety Framework
  • FamLink User Manuals
  • CPS Temporary Custody Notification form DSHS 09-731
  • Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10-157 (Protective Custody)
  • Placement Packet
  • Relative Framework