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Juvenile  Court  -  Civil  Programs


 Child in Need of Services



The 1995 Washington Legislature enacted E2SSB 5439 to revise the laws governing At-Risk Youth, runaways, crisis residential centers, mental health, and substance abuse treatment for juveniles.  The intent of the law is to give tools to parents, courts, and law enforcement to keep families together whenever possible.

 For chronic runaways, whose behavior puts them in danger of harming themselves or others, secure facilities must be provided to allow opportunities for assessment, treatment, and to assist parents and protect children.  Secure and semi-secure crisis residential centers will be designated for temporary placements of runaway children.  The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will establish contracts with private vendors to provide crisis residential placements.

 The legal definition of Child in Need of Services (CHINS) means an unemancipated child under age 18 who:

  1. Is beyond parental control such that his/her behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person; or

  2. Has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for more then 24 consecutive hours or reported as absent from a Court ordered placement on two or more occasions and has a serious substance abuse problem or has exhibited behaviors that create a serious risk of harm to the child or others; or

  3. Is in need of necessary services, lacks access, or has declined to use the services, and whose parents have made unsuccessful efforts to maintain the family structure or whose parents are unwilling or unable to continue efforts to maintain the family structure.

A CHINS petition may be filed by the child, the child's parent(s), or the Department of Social and Health Services.

  Court Legal Process:

After verification that a family assessment has been requested and upon filing a properly completed and presented CHINS petition, the Fact Finding hearing on the petition shall be held within ten calendar days, unless the child is residing in an out-of-home placement, then the Fact Finding hearing shall be scheduled within five calendar days.  The Court must: (a) enter an order for out of home placement of the child; (b) approve an At-Risk Youth petition filed by the child's parents; (c) dismiss the CHINS petition; or (d) order DSHS to review the case to determine whether a dependency petition should be filed.

A Dispositional hearing must be held within 14 days after a temporary placement order is entered.  After the hearing, the Court may: (a) reunite the family and dismiss the petition; (b) approve an At-Risk Youth petition filed by the parents; (c) approve a voluntary out of home placement of the child, requested by the parents; (d) order any other conditions as specified in RCW 13.32.A.196:

  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 an anger management program, and refraining from using alcohol or drugs.

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

The Court must review the case within three months after entry of a 90-day placement order.  The Court shall continue or discontinue court supervision and placement of the child.  Out of home placement may not be continued past 180 days after the three month review hearing.

The parent may request dismissal of a parent requested voluntary out of home placement at any time and upon such a request, the Court shall dismiss the matter and cease court supervision of the child unless a contempt action and subsequent order is pending or if another petition is pending in the case.

  Contempt of Court:

Failure by any party, including the child and the parent, to comply with a court order entered in a CHINS proceeding, is contempt of court.  The court may impose a fine of up to $100.00 and confinement for up to seven days, or both.  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.

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, contact one of the following agencies:
  • Thurston County Juvenile Court, (360) 709-3131, TDD (360) 754-2933.
  • Department of Social and Health Services, Family Reconciliation Services, (360) 725-6996.

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Page Revised on June 29, 2018 Thurston County