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Juvenile  Court  -  Civil  Programs

 

At-Risk Youth

 

  Purpose:  

The legislature enacted the at-risk youth bill to preserve, strengthen, and reconcile families experiencing problems with youth who are at-risk in the community.

 The purpose of this legislation is to provide parents a process in which they can request and receive assistance subject to the availability of Juvenile Court services and resources.  Recognizing that the services and resources are limited, the legislature intends that counties have the authority to impose reasonable limits on the utilization of Juvenile Court services and resources in matters related to at-risk youth.

 Thurston County Juvenile Court will review and file appropriate at-risk youth petitions after the parent can verify that alternatives to Court intervention have been attempted.

 The legal definition of "at-risk" youth means an individual under the chronological age of 18 years who:

  1. Is absent from home for at least seventy-two (72) consecutive hours without the consent of his/her parent;

  2. Is beyond the control of his/her parent such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or

  3.  Has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to the substance abuse.

  Court Legal Process:

Thurston County Juvenile Court Probation Staff will review the documents and, when appropriate, file the petition and schedule the case on the court calendar for a Fact Finding hearing within ten calendar days.  If the child is in a Crisis Residential Center or in out-of-home placement, this hearing shall be scheduled within five calendar days.  Probation staff shall notify the parent and child of such date, notify the parent of the right to be represented by counsel at parents' own expense, appoint legal counsel for the child, inform the parent and child of the legal consequences of the court finding the child to be an at-risk youth, and notify the parent and child of their rights to present evidence at the Fact Finding hearing.  A Disposition hearing shall be held immediately following the Fact Finding hearing, or within 14 calendar days.

 The Court may grant the petition and enter an order finding the child to be an at-risk youth if the allegations in the petition are established by a preponderance of the evidence.  The Court shall not enter such an order, if the Court has approved a Child in Need of Services petition regarding the child, or if the child is the subject of a dependency proceeding under Chapter 13.34 RCW.

 The Court may order conditions of supervision of the child that include:

  1. Regular school attendance

  2. Counseling

  3.  Participation in a substance abuse or mental health outpatient treatment program.

  4.  Reporting on a regular basis to the department or any other designated person or agency; and

  5. Any other condition the Court deems an appropriate condition of supervision, including, but not limited to:  employment, participation in anger management program, and refraining from using alcohol or drugs.

The Court may order the parent to participate in counseling services or any other services for the child requiring parental participation.

 The parent shall cooperate with the Court ordered plan and shall be financially responsible for costs related to the court ordered plan.

 The Court shall schedule the matter on the calendar for review within three months.  The Court shall approve or disapprove of the continuation of Court supervision.  Court supervision of a child may not continue past one hundred eighty (180) days from the day the review hearing commenced unless the Court finds, and the parent agrees, that there are compelling reasons for an extension of supervision.  Any extension granted shall not exceed ninety (90) days.

 The parent may request dismissal of an at-risk youth proceeding at any time and upon such request, the Court shall dismiss the matter and cease Court supervision of the child unless a contempt action is pending in the case.

  Contempt of Court

In all at-risk youth proceedings, the Court shall verbally notify the parents and the child of the possibility of a finding of contempt for failure to comply with the terms of the court order.  The Court shall treat the parents and the child equally for the purposes of applying contempt of court processes and penalties under this section.

 Failure by a party to comply with an order, is a Contempt of Court.  The Court may impose a fine of up to $100.00 and confinement for up to seven (7) days, or both, for contempt of court.  A motion for contempt may be made by a parent, a child, juvenile court personnel, or by any public agency, organization or person having custody of the child under a court order pursuant to at-risk youth legislation.

Whenever the Court finds probable cause, based upon consideration of a motion for contempt, that a child has violated a placement order entered under this chapter, the Court may issue an order directing law enforcement to pick up and take the child to detention.  The order may be entered ex-parte without prior notice to the child or to other parties.  Following the child's admission to detention, a detention review hearing must be held in accordance with RCW 13.32A.065.

For further information, Call Thurston County Juvenile Court at (360) 709-3131, TDD (360) 754-2933.
 

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Page Revised on March 15, 2006 Thurston County