43091. Court Report

Approval:             Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date:      October 20, 2013

Revised Date:      July 1, 2018

Policy Review:     July 1, 2021


Purpose Statement

Courts use the information in the court report and department recommendations to make decisions regarding what is in a child’s best interest and whether reasonable efforts, active efforts for Indian Child Welfare cases, were made to reunify a child with their family or prevent removal of a child from their home. For children placed on a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA), the court report outlines the comprehensive case plan for the family.

Laws

RCW 13.34.120  Social study and reports made available at disposition hearing - Contents - Notice to parents.

RCW 13.34.136  Permanency plan of care.

RCW 13.34.138  Review hearings - Findings - Duties of parties involved - In-home placement requirements - Housing assistance.

RCW 13.34.145  Permanency planning hearing - Purpose - Time limits - Goals - Review hearing - Petition for termination of parental rights - Guardianship petition - Agency responsibility to provide services to parents - Due process rights

RCW 13.34.400  Child welfare proceedings - Placement - Documentation.

RCW 74.13.280  Client information.

42 U.S.C. § 675  Definitions.

Policy

  1. The caseworker must:
    1. Develop the court report in consultation and in person whenever possible, with the parent or legal guardian, a child 12 years and older, and an Indian child’s tribe. Youth, 14 years or older, may identify up to two members of their case planning team, other than the caregiver or caseworker, to be part of the development of their court report. Participants identified by the youth may be excluded if there is reason to believe that the identified individuals would not act in the child’s best interest.
    2. Include information outlined in the court report Mapping and Guidance Tool on the CA intranet site when completing the court report.
    3. Verify that the following information is included in the court report when a child’s parent or legal guardian is incarcerated:
      1. How the incarcerated parent or guardian will participate in case planning.
      2. The treatment services and resources available in the Department of Corrections (DOC) facility to meet the parent or legal guardian’s individual needs.
      3. A visitation schedule or the reasons why visitation is not in the best interest of the child.
    4. Obtain supervisor approval of the court report prior to distribution.
    5. Translate the court report into the primary language of the child and the child’s parent or legal guardian prior to distribution.
    6. After redacting parent or legal guardian information from the court report, provide a copy to the child’s caregiver.
  2. For dependency cases
    1. File the approved court report in court, and share with legal parties to the case and caregivers within the following timeframes:
      1. No later than 10 business days before the dependency disposition hearing or by the 60th day of the placement episode of a child, whichever date occurs first.
      2. The second court report is due six months from the beginning date of the placement episode or no more than 90 days from the entry of the disposition order, whichever comes first. Court reports are due at six-month intervals throughout the life of a case to align with regularly scheduled review and permanency planning hearings.
      3. If the court report is submitted to the parties and their attorneys earlier than required, the next report is due no later than 10 business days prior to the next review or permanency planning hearing, or six months from the date of the last report completed, whichever date occurs first.
      4. The legal parties to the case include but are not limited to:
        1. The parents or legal guardians,
        2. The parent or legal guardian’s attorneys,
        3. A child 12 years of age and older,
        4. The child’s attorney,
        5. The child’s guardian ad litem (GAL) or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and
        6. The Indian child’s tribe if the Indian Child Welfare Act applies.
    2. Include copies of supporting documents regarding the child or family when a significant change occurs relevant to the case. Documents include although are not limited to:
      1. Substance abuse treatment
      2. Mental health treatment
      3. Medical and behavioral health services updates
      4. Anger management classes
      5. Domestic violence classes
      6. Visitation with a parent/child and siblings
      7. Psychological status of child and parent or legal guardian
      8. Physician report documenting injuries to a child
      9. School progress reports, including Individual Education Plans (IEP)
      10. Home study
      11. Licensing action
      12. Background check summaries
    3. Consult with the assigned Assistant Attorney General to determine whether a court report or caseworker declaration is appropriate when changes to the court order are requested by the department, other party or for interim hearings.
  3. For children in out-of-home care on a VPA, the approved court report must be provided by the 60th day of out-of-home placement to:
    1. The parents or legal guardians;
    2. A youth 12 years of age and older,
    3. The caregivers, and
    4. The Indian child’s tribe if the Indian Child Welfare Act applies.
    5. Under a VPA, the court report is not distributed to the court.
  4. The supervisor must approve and sign each completed court report.

Resources

Court report Mapping and Guidance Tool (Located on the CA Intranet)