Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Washington

Date: February 2020

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.134; 13.34.138; 13.34.145

Hearings to review the status of all children found dependent shall be held at least 6 months from the beginning date of the placement episode or the date dependency is established, whichever is first.

Permanency hearings shall be held as follows:

  • No later than 12 months from the beginning of the current placement episode and every 12 months thereafter
  • Within 30 days if reasonable efforts to reunify are not ordered

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.070; 13.34.138; 13.34.145

Notice of a hearing shall be provided to the child if the child is age 12 or older and to the parents, guardian, or custodian, and such other persons as appear to the court to be proper or necessary parties to the proceedings.

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families shall provide the child's foster parents, preadoptive parents, or other caregivers with notice of their right to be heard prior to each proceeding held with respect to the child in juvenile court under this chapter. The rights to notice and to be heard apply only to persons with whom a child has been placed by the department or and who are providing care to the child at the time of the proceeding. This section shall not be construed to grant party status to any person solely on the basis of such notice and right to be heard.

If the child has resided in the home of a foster parent or relative for more than 6 months prior to the permanency planning hearing, the court shall also enter a finding regarding whether the foster parent or relative was informed of the hearing as required by statute.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.138; 13.34.145

At the review hearing, the court shall determine whether the following apply:

  • The department is making reasonable efforts to provide services to the family to eliminate the need for placement of the child.
  • There has been compliance with the case plan by the child, the child's parents, and the agency supervising the placement.
  • Progress has been made toward correcting the problems that necessitated the child's placement in out-of-home care.
  • There is a continuing need for placement.
  • Within 60 days of the placement of a child in a qualified residential treatment program and at each review hearing thereafter if the child remains in such a program, the court will determine the following:
    • Whether ongoing assessment of the child's strengths and needs continues to support the determination that the child's needs cannot be met through placement in a foster family home
    • Whether the child's placement provides the most effective and appropriate level of care in the least restrictive environment
    • Whether the placement is consistent with the child's permanency plan
    • What specific treatment or service needs will be met in the placement and how long the child is expected to need the treatment or services
    • What efforts the department has made to prepare the child to return home or be placed with a fit and willing relative, a legal guardian, an adoptive parent, or in a foster family home
  • A parent's lack of suitable housing is preventing the child's return home and housing assistance should be provided.
  • The child is in an appropriate placement that adequately meets all physical, emotional, and educational needs.
  • Preference has been given to placement with the child's relatives.
  • Both in-State and, where appropriate, out-of-State placements have been considered.
  • The parents have visited the child and any reasons why visitation has not occurred or has been infrequent.

At the permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the permanency plan prepared by the agency and make explicit findings regarding each of the following:

  • The continuing necessity for, and the safety and appropriateness of, the placement
  • The extent of compliance with the permanency plan by the department and any other service providers, the child's parents, the child, and the child's guardian, if any
  • The extent of any efforts to involve appropriate service providers in addition to department staff in planning to meet the special needs of the child and the child's parents
  • The progress toward eliminating the causes for the child's placement outside of his or her home and toward returning the child safely to his or her home or obtaining a permanent placement for the child
  • The date by which it is likely that the child will be returned to his or her home or placed for adoption, with a guardian, or in some other alternative permanent placement

Permanency Options

Citation: Rev. Code § 13.34.145

The permanency plan shall identify one of the following outcomes as a primary goal:

  • Being returned safely to his or her home
  • Having a petition for the involuntary termination of parental rights filed on behalf of the child
  • Being placed for adoption
  • Being placed with a guardian
  • Being placed in the home of a fit and willing relative of the child
  • Being placed in some other alternative permanent placement, including independent living or long-term foster care