Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - Washington

Date:

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.067; 13.34.136

Following the shelter care hearing and no later than 30 days prior to the fact-finding hearing, the Department of Social and Health Services shall convene a case conference as required in the shelter care order to develop a written service agreement.

Whenever a child is ordered removed from the home, a permanency plan shall be developed no later than 60 days from the time the department assumes responsibility for providing services, including placing the child, or at the time of the disposition hearing, whichever occurs first. The permanency-planning process continues until a permanency-planning goal is achieved or dependency is dismissed. The planning process shall include reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent's home.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.067

The case conference shall include the parent, counsel for the parent, caseworker, counsel for the State, guardian ad litem, counsel for the child, and any other person agreed upon by the parties.

If a case conference is convened and the parent is unable to participate in person due to incarceration, the parent must have the option to participate through the use of a teleconference or videoconference.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.067; 13.34.136

The written service agreement shall specify the expectations of the department and the parent regarding voluntary services for the parent. The expectations in the service agreement must correlate with the court's findings at the shelter care hearing. The agreement must set forth specific services to be provided to the parent.

The permanency plan shall include the following:

  • A permanency plan of care that shall identify one of the following outcomes as a primary goal and possible additional outcomes as alternative goals:
    • Return of the child to his or her home
    • Adoption
    • Guardianship
    • Permanent legal custody
    • Long-term relative or foster care until the child is age 18, with a written agreement between the parties and the care provider
    • Successful completion of a responsible living skills program
    • Independent living, if appropriate and if the child is age 16 or older
  • Unless the court has ordered that a termination petition be filed, a specific plan for where the child will be placed, what steps will be taken to return the child home, what steps the department will take to promote existing appropriate sibling relationships and/or facilitate placement together or contact in accordance with the best interests of each child, and what actions the department will take to maintain parent-child ties
  • The services the parents will be offered to enable them to resume custody, the requirements the parents must meet to resume custody, and a time limit for each service plan and parental requirement, including the following:
    • If the parent is incarcerated, how the parent will participate in planning meetings, receive treatment that reflects the resources available at the facility where the parent is confined, and have opportunities for visits
    • If a parent has a developmental disability, the reasonable efforts needed to consult with the Developmental Disabilities Administration to create an appropriate plan for services
  • A plan for visits between the child and the parent, in cases in which visiting is in the child's best interests
  • A plan to place the child 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
  • A statement as to whether both in-State and, where appropriate, out-of-State placement options have been considered by the department
  • Whenever practical, a plan to ensure the child remains enrolled in the school the child was attending at the time the child entered foster care, unless it is not in the child's best interests
  • A statement that department will provide all reasonable services that are available within the department or the community, or those services that the department has existing contracts to purchase
  • If the court has ordered 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 visiting would be in the child's best interests, a recommendation to the court regarding visits between parent and child pending a fact-finding hearing on the termination petition

The department 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. However, reasonable efforts to ensure visits and contact between siblings shall be made unless there is reasonable cause to believe the best interests of the child or siblings would be jeopardized.