Child Protective Services (CPS) and Dependency Actions

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Read this if you're involved with CPS in Washington State. If CPS asks you to sign a Voluntary Placement Agreement (a VPA), you can get free legal advice from a lawyer right away by calling the VPA hotline at (833) 240-9746, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone interpreter services available.#3120EN

Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) Hotline

Starting January 1, 2024, the Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) Attorney Hotline gives Washington State parents, guardians, and legal custodians ("parents") in certain situations the opportunity to get free legal advice and consultation from a lawyer.  You can use the VPA attorney hotline when DCYF proposes a VPA and there is no pending dependency case. DCYF should tell you about the hotline when it offers you a VPA.

You can call the hotline at (833) 240-9746, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone interpreter services are available. If more than one parent needs to speak to an attorney at a time, the VPA Attorney Hotline is staffed with multiple attorneys at a time to address conflicts and cases with multiple parents needing legal advice or consultation. 

Video

Part 1. Child Protective Services (CPS): The Basics

CPS is an arm of the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), a state government agency. CPS investigates reports of child abuse or neglect. CPS employs caseworkers.

In most counties, the state Attorney General's Office represents DCYF and CPS. In a few less populated counties, the county prosecutor's office may still represent DCYF and CPS in court.

It is any of these:

  • Physical abuse
  • Failing to take care of a child, or bad treatment that puts a child in danger (called neglect)
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
* If you or your children are domestic violence survivors and CPS is investigating you because of domestic violence, talk to an attorney right away.
* The Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence's Know Your Rights When CPS Comes Knocking, available at wscadv.org, can help.

Part 2. When CPS contacts you or your children

When someone reports child abuse or neglect, CPS must investigate. CPS must notify the children's parents about the investigation, if they can find them. CPS must try to find the children's parents.

If there is immediate danger, CPS must start investigating within 24 hours of getting a report.  If there is no immediate danger, CPS has up to 90 days.

Yes. During its investigation, the CPS caseworker can interview your children and anyone else with useful information. The interview can be at any suitable place, like school, home, or daycare. They do not need to ask your permission or notify you. CPS can talk to the children alone or with a third person. The caseworker can take pictures of the children.

* CPS can talk to your children without your permission, even if you are not the suspected abuser.

Maybe. You generally have the right to seek records and information that CPS has collected about your children, but the agency may turn down (may deny) your request.

CPS records are held by DCYF. Ask a CPS caseworker how to ask for these records. CPS must give you the needed information or help you ask for the records.

Yes. CPS might deny your request altogether. There are records CPS does not legally have to release to you.  CPS may also "black out" information they believe they don't have to share, like names and addresses of foster parents or the name of the person who called CPS to report child abuse or neglect. CPS may not give you the names and information that would tell you who called CPS.

You can seek legal advice from an attorney with experience working on CPS court cases at any time. 

If CPS has contacted you or your children about issues that are not crimes, you can choose not to speak with an attorney before talking with CPS. 

Anytime you are being investigated for a crime, such endangerment or abuse of a child, you should consider getting criminal legal advice. 

When an investigation starts, or when you have a FAR agreement (see below), you can choose to speak with CPS caseworkers by yourself. 

If you are pregnant, the partner of a pregnant person, or a parent of a newborn child, and you are involved with CPS in Skagit, Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties, a pilot program called the FIRST clinic provides attorneys to parents before a court case is filed. Contact thefirstclinic.org to learn more.

If you live in King County and you are not represented by an attorney, you can get on-call legal advice by calling (206)-296-7662 during business hours, or 206-477-8899, afterhours. Visit bit.ly/3sdj2K8 to learn more.

If CPS or the court takes the children, or a caseworker files a dependency court case, you should ask the judge to appoint you an attorney at public expense if you cannot afford to hire one. See below.

CPS must either investigate the call, end the investigation, and close the file or offer you an alternative to an investigation called a Family Assessment Response (FAR). See next section.

The CPS caseworker who gets a report about your children may decide the call does not need investigating. But if they choose to investigate, CPS has 90 days from the date it gets a call to finish its investigation.

CPS can always choose to file a dependency case in court at any time. There is no deadline for them to do that. (See Dependency Court: When CPS Files a Dependency Case, below.)

Part 3. When CPS decides the report against you was unfounded

DCYF is supposed to destroy its records of "screened-out" reports of child abuse within 3 years of getting such report. Screened-out means CPS chose not to investigate a report (an allegation) of child abuse or neglect that someone made about you.

If you find out that DCYF did not destroy these records, you can take the agency to court to make them do it and maybe get them to pay you (pay you damages). You can read the state law about this at RCW 26.44.031. You should also try to talk to an attorney.

DCYF is supposed to destroy its records of unfounded or (older) inconclusive investigations of child abuse or neglect within 6 years of finishing their investigation if there isn't a founded incident of child abuse or neglect within that time.

If you find out that DCYF did not destroy these records, you can take the agency to court to make them do it and maybe get damages. You can read the state law about this at RCW 26.44.031. You should also try to talk to an attorney.

Part 4. FAR (Family Assessment Response)

FAR case workers do not investigate or make findings about abuse or neglect. They make safety assessments and safety plans when they find safety threats.

FAR is an assessment and an agreement between you and CPS for a plan for services and support to keep your children safe in your home. If you sign an agreement with the FAR case worker, your family can get services for up to 90 days.

No. But if you do not agree to do FAR, there is a chance that CPS will investigate you or file a dependency case.

* Even if you take part in a FAR, CPS can investigate you for new situations if they come to believe your children's safety is at risk in your care.

Make sure you understand:

  • What you need to do to satisfy CPS' concerns
  • What you need to do to end the agreement correctly
  • The length and terms of the entire agreement
  • What the caseworkers are promising to do under the agreement and when they are promising to do it
* CPS must give you a free interpreter If you have a hard time speaking or understanding English or cannot communicate in spoken language. As soon as you can, make sure you ask CPS for an interpreter for the language you speak at home. You might have to ask more than once.

When meeting with a CPS caseworker, try to speak calmly and clearly. Ask to have a trusted friend or relative with you for moral support only. That person must not interfere with or be involved in the case and should not interpret for you.

Generally, you should:

  • Ask caseworkers questions.
  • Ask them to repeat what they have said.
  • Restate important issues in your own words so there is no misunderstanding.
  • Take notes.
  • Write down dates and times of all your calls to CPS.
  • Write down how you have tried to do what you agreed to in the FAR agreement.

Part 5. Having problems with CPS while they are investigating you or you are taking part in a FAR

Write down every time you call CPS and the dates and details of the incidents where you are being treated unfairly. If CPS does not call you back within several days, try to reach the caseworker's supervisor. If you still do not hear from the caseworker, call the DSHS regional manager.

Yes.

OFCO is a voice for families under CPS supervision due to claims or findings of abuse or neglect. If it is not in your family or children's best interest to go to CPS with your complaint, or you went to them but did not get a good response, contact OFCO.

OFCO can look at your CPS files to see if they are following their procedures. They can also ask officials or CPS management to investigate your complaint and make sure someone does something.  

* Visit ofco.wa.gov/filing-complaint to learn more, or call toll free 1-800-571-7321, TTY 206-439-3789.

Part 6. When CPS decides you have abused or neglected your children

Yes. They can go to a judge to remove your children from your home or they can call the police to take them into protective custody if CPS or the police believe your children are in imminent danger.  

You might not be with your children when they are taken. CPS will also start a dependency case in court at the same time. CPS may also ask the court at the very first court hearing for an order giving CPS temporary custody of the children and allowing them to remove the children from your home until the trial happens.

CPS must try to deliver a copy of the dependency court papers to you (called serving court papers on you) to tell you they have taken the children. They or the police must try to place the children with a relative or other suitable person who is requested by you.

They could try to get you to sign a Voluntary Placement Agreement (a VPA). Then you would turn your children over to them without a court order. You can learn more about VPA's by visiting opd.wa.gov/vpa.

You do not have to agree to a VPA. If they give you a VPA to sign, get legal advice before signing anything. You can get free legal advice from an attorney by calling the VPA hotline at (833) 240-9746, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, interpreters available.

Law enforcement can take your children into protective custody without a court order for up to 72 hours if law enforcement believes that the children are abused or neglected, and the children will be hurt if not removed immediately.  

If the children are removed from your care, the court must hold a shelter care hearing within 72 hours, not including weekends and holidays.

* Only certain medical workers, like physicians or other authorized medical professionals, can refuse to release a child to their parent or parents by placing the child on a "hospital hold" for up to 72 hours, over the parent's objection. Once a child is removed from their parents,  a shelter care hearing must be held within that time.

Part 7. Dependency Court: When CPS files a dependency case

It is a court case that anyone, including a relative, can start to protect children from harm within the family. Usually, CPS files. The petition claims that your children are "dependent children."

The legal definition of a dependent child is a child that:

  • has been abandoned by their parent, guardian, or custodian, or abused, or neglected by their parent, guardian, or custodian, or someone else who is responsible for them
  • has no parent, guardian, or custodian with a home situation free from a danger of serious damage to the child's physical or psychological development

You have the right to have an attorney represent you at every hearing in the case. Dependency cases can last anywhere from 3 months to 2 years or more.  If you cannot pay for one for the entire length of the case, the judge must appoint an attorney to represent you at public expense.

You must tell the judge at the very first hearing that you need an attorney appointed because you cannot afford one. The judge will appoint you an attorney.

In some counties, the judge will direct you to the public defender's office. In some counties, the judge will refer you to a specific attorney. All attorneys appointed to parents in dependency court in the State of Washington are contractors with the WA State Office of Public Defense Parents Representation Program (visit  opd.wa.gov/program/parents-representation). Any concerns or challenges with contacting your attorneys should go to that office.

* Visit opd.wa.gov to learn more, or call toll free 1-800-414-6064.

If you can pay for an attorney for the entire case, you must hire one. How to find a Lawyer might help with this. You should ask about the attorney's experience in dependency court. Not all family law attorneys have experience working in dependency court.

If you can only pay for an attorney for a few court hearings, but not for the entire case, you are still entitled to be appointed an attorney by the court. In that situation, the court might ask you to contribute to the costs.

* Parents can hire one attorney to represent them both. If you are not living together, or are in different situations, you may each want your own attorney.

You have the right to keep your family together.

  • To ask the judge not to take the children out of your home
  • To keep in touch with your children, including phone or video calls, and in person visits
  • To family time
  • To a reunification plan

You have the right to information. CPS must try to notify you as soon as possible that they have taken your children into custody, why they took the children, and what your legal rights are.

The notice must be understandable, considering the language you speak at home, your education, and cultural issues.

You have other rights:

  • To take part in your children's health, in school planning, and in plans to support their behavior   
  • To take part in and talk to  CPS to inform  reunification plans for you and your children  
  • To know what the court has ordered you to do before it will return the children
  • To see CPS' records and information on your children, with some exceptions
  • To information about your children's health, progress in school, and behavior 

You have the right to refuse services when the court has not ordered you to do them

You have the right to services ordered by the court to be completed so you can have your children back. DCYF will provide referral to public health insurance to cover the costs of healthcare services, including substance use disorder, therapy, and mental health supports, and to services that DCYF will pay for directly.

DCYF also might send you to an agency that charges for services. If you cannot pay for those services, you can work with your attorney to ask the judge to order DCYF to pay for those services. You can access any publicly funded services through 2-1-1.

Your worker may have funds to help you with housing, clothing, transportation services, and vouchers for other home goods. The worker may also be able to help you apply for medical care, social benefits, childcare, job services, parenting classes, family planning services, mental health services, drug or alcohol abuse programs, and domestic violence or sexual assault survivor programs.

Yes. Under a new state law, all children in dependency cases are entitled to an attorney to represent their stated interests in the dependency court.  The Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid Children's Representation Program (OCLA) is responsible for contracting with and training all the attorneys who will represent children and youth. OCLA has been working to expand its program to all counties in Washington State. Visit bit.ly/459uEwi to find out how to ask for an attorney for your children.

* The judge may also appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) or court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for the children. The GAL does not have to be an attorney. The GAL represents the children's best interests. This might be different from what the children want. This is not the same as the children having an attorney. Read How to Work with GALs and Parenting Evaluators to learn more.

Make your home is as safe and appropriate as you can to keep your children at home or have them returned to you. The law says parents are the first option for their children, before all other relatives. The main purpose of the dependency process is to make the parents' home or homes an appropriate place for the children to live and grow up.

Make sure CPS knows your preference for placement if the child can't be in your home (another parent, relative, friend, and so on). CPS must follow the parents' wishes for placement, but the proposed caregiver must pass background checks. Relatives and family friends need only pass the initial background check (for WA state only) to receive immediate placement of the child. They can have the child in their home while they complete federal (fingerprint) background checks, which take longer. Background checks for relatives and family friends include everyone who is at least 16 years old who lives in the home.

You must go to all your visits with the children. If there are any barriers to your being able to do this, you must let CPS and your attorney know.

You must support your children in your home and in your visits. You should provide your children clothes and personal items so they are comfortable in someone else's care. If you financial need help providing clothing, diapers, food, or other items in your visits, tell your caseworker.

You must take part in any court-ordered services. The court will hold a hearing to review if you are doing the services ordered and making progress to correct the reasons the children are removed or the court is involved with your family.

You must keep in regular contact with your attorney. Tell your attorney about changes in your phone number, email, and mailing addresses. You must keep in touch so your attorney is aware of what is happening in your case and can help you plan for trial and for return of your children. You may need to update them about your living arrangements and supportive relationships who can help with placement or visits. If you cannot keep an appointment with your attorney, tell them as soon as possible beforehand.

The DCYF caseworker must stay in touch with you. Tell them about changes in your phone number, email and mailing addresses, and your living arrangements if you want overnight visits with your children or for your children to be returned home. If you cannot keep appointments with the caseworker, tell them as soon as possible beforehand.

Try to get other kinds of support. Reach out to your network of family and friends that will help you parent your children safely and well. If your current network does not or will not help you parent well, create new connections. Engage with community professionals who care about you and your family and who can help, if needed. It can also help to have family, friends, church members, counselors and others tell the judge good things about you and your family.

Parents who have successfully navigated the dependency court process and provide peer support to parents going through the process may be able to help you. Contact the Parents for Parents Program in your county listed at bit.ly/3DUky6x.   

Keep records showing:

  • your family's medical and dental care
  • your contact and visitation with your children
  • any services you are taking part in
  • how you are following court orders
  • any other proof showing how you are caring for yourself and your children

Follow advice and use services. Listen to and get help from teachers, medical providers, and counselors working with you and your children whenever you can.

Part 8. Types of dependency court hearings and meetings

There must be a shelter care hearing within 72 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) of:

  • CPS removing the children from your home pursuant to a court order; or
  • Law enforcement placing the children into protective custody; or
  • A "hospital hold" refusing release of your child to your care; or
  • CPS filing a dependency petition if the children are not removed from your home.

At the 72-hour hearing, the judge decides if the children should be released to your home until the dependency trial; or, if the judge orders the children removed until trial, what visitation and contact you and the children should have until the dependency trial hearing.   

* The law does not allow the judge to dismiss a case at this hearing. 

If the children are ordered removed from your home, the judge shall order placement of the children with a suitable relative or family friend. If there is no suitable relative or friend, the judge may order a foster care placement if the judge finds that foster care is in the children's best interests. The judge also decides:

  • Where any school-age children should go to school
  • What healthcare, social services, and supports the children should get
  • What services you agree to do after consulting with your attorney before the dependency trial
* The judge focuses on whether there is an immediate danger to your children in your care, and, if there is, making sure that DCYF is providing appropriate care to children removed from their parents. 

The judge at the shelter care hearing can only put in a court order that you will take exams, be evaluated, or use services if you agree to these things. The judge will focus on the conditions and situations in your home that relate to your children. The judge will look at whether there is a safety threat in your home, and if you and the other adults in your home can prevent that threat.

If your children are removed at the first shelter care hearing, the court must enter an order authorizing "shelter care" every 30 days until the trial judge ends (dismisses) the case or enters an order of dependency. CPS cannot place your children in shelter care for more than 30 days without a court order. The judge can review to see if the situation requiring the child's removal has changed. The judge should also review the previously ordered visitation.

You must work with your attorney to make sure that, if conditions and situations in your home have changed, you file the correct paperwork on time to have the judge consider returning your children home or, if your children are not returned home, ordering more visitation.  

This is not a hearing. It is a meeting of all legal parties who must get together to discuss the case. You can have a case conference at any time. Some counties require the use of case conferences before the trial hearing. CPS must offer you a case conference unless you do not want one, or you did not go to the 72-hour hearing. 

At a case conference, you meet with your attorney, the Assistant Attorney General, the GAL, the child's attorney, and the DCYF case worker. You talk about

  • The reasons the agency thinks it should be the temporary custodian of your children
  • The reasons the agency thinks your children are not safe in your care
  • What  services the agency wants you to complete to address child safety or other issues
  • Whether you can settle the case without a trial
  • Anything else relevant to your parenting or your children's safety

You have the right to a type of trial called a fact finding within 75 days on whether your children meet the legal definition of dependent. See "What is a dependent child," earlier in this guide, for that definition. Trial dates are often delayed.

You are also entitled to a disposition trial about where your children should live, visitation, and the reunification services plan. The next section below, "What is a dispositional order," talks more about this.

Most cases do not go to trial at all. CPS and parents agree to settle most dependencies. If you settle, there is no trial. Or you can agree to have a dependency and go to trial on the disposition.   

If you do go to trial, you and CPS can give testimony, bring witnesses, cross examine witnesses, bring records and other documents to be used as  evidence.

Only if the judge finds the children are legally dependent (after trial or by agreement), will there be a dispositional order. There are 2 ways this can come about:

  • Parents, children, and CPS can settle by agreeing to a disposition without a trial. The order will reflect what everyone agreed to.
  • When parents, children, and CPS do not agree on the disposition, The judge will hold a disposition trial to decide what should be in the dispositional order. The disposition trial must generally be held within 2 weeks of the dependency order being entered. It can be delayed for good cause.

The dispositional order will state:

  • Where your children will live (with you, another parent, a relative or family friend, or foster care)
  • The visitation schedule if your children are not home with you. This should include visitation between siblings who are under the court's order.
  • What social services you must complete to keep or get your children living in your care or returned home
  • What social services you must complete to have the case dismissed
  • What DCYF must do to care for your children while they are not living with you
  • What DCYF must do to put social services in place

In the dispositional order, the judge usually lets you visit the children regularly, unless it would not be in their best interests. The judge might limit your visits by having them supervised or monitored by a relative, friend, or  a professional. The judge cannot limit your visits to punish you for not completing services or for not following court orders. The judge must put the least restrictive conditions on your visits. The judge may only stop (may only suspend) your visits if the judge finds the visits are a danger to the children's health, safety, or welfare.

The court must review your case within 90 days after the dispositional order or 6 months after the children are removed from the home, whichever is sooner. This timeline includes the time the child was removed under a FAR agreement.

The primary plan for the family is supposed to be reunification. If the plan for you and your children is not reunification, work with your attorney to get that changed.

At the First Dependency Review Hearing, the judge reviews to see if the DCYF case worker and the parents are following the court order. The judge also wants to know if you have made progress at removing safety threats from your home and if you are making progress on the reasons for the dependency case being open.

The judge will return the children to you only if the safety reasons that caused the court to remove them no longer exists. The judge must also schedule a date to enter a "permanency plan of care."

DCYF will create a permanency plan within 60 days of assuming "responsibility to provide services" or a fact-finding, whichever happens first. This plan may not be the same plan as the court's plan for your family.

A permanency planning hearing is a review hearing where the judge must order a permanent plan for you family. At this hearing, the judge will review any prior court-ordered permanency plan. The judge can but does not have to change the permanent plan. For example, DCYF can ask to change the permanent plan from reunification to adoption and make reunification the secondary plan. The judge in this example could decide to keep reunification as the goal.

* If a permanent plan has not already been ordered, the judge must enter a permanent plan at this hearing.

At the permanency planning hearing, the judge will consider information from DCYF and the parents. You must be in touch with your attorney to provide supporting documentation to the court, in time for the judge to read it before the court hearing.

The permanency planning process continues throughout the dependency. The court can review it at every review hearing with advance notice to parents, children, and DCYF, until you achieve a permanency plan goal, or the courtdismisses the dependency.

It could list 1 or 2 of these possible goals or outcomes of the case:

  • Return home–All the issues that brought about the dependency case are addressed. The children go back to you. The judge dismisses the case.
  • Guardianship–The court places the children long-term with a guardian. This can be a relative, foster parent, family friend, or anyone the judge agrees is appropriate. The judge does not end (does not terminate) your parental rights. When the court enters a guardianship order, it dismisses the dependency. CPS stops providing services.
  • Long-term relative or foster care–This is usually only used for 16 or 17 year olds who have no parents to go home to and no relatives or family friends who can take guardianship over them or adopt them. This plan does not dismiss the dependency. The dependency will stay open until the youth turns 18 or 21 years old, whichever the youth consents to. This can also happen when a child has serious disabilities and needs long-term medical or therapeutic care outside the home. All parents are dismissed from a case when the child turns 18 years old.
  • Adoption–If the court orders this as the permanent plan, DCYF must seek termination of parental rights through a new court case so the child can be adopted by someone else. If this happens, you are entitled to an attorney if you cannot afford one for the entire termination case. A judge must decide whether to order your parental rights to the children terminated. DCYF often seeks to terminate parenting rights even when the parent has not abused or neglected their children.
  • Independent Living–This plan provides support starting at 15 years old for youth who have no living legal parents (who are legally free) and who will transition into adulthood without an adult caregiver. It is not legal emancipation. DCYF is the youth's custodian. DCYF is responsible for the young person's care and education.
* Note: Emancipation is not a permanent plan. The judge can order legal emancipation of the child, but only if the child can prove the judge should do this. The child must show they can provide care for themselves without the help of any adults or DCYF. If ordered emancipated, the child is treated as an adult for most legal purposes. A legally emancipated minor no longer has to live in an adult's care. Read Emancipation of Minors in Washington State to learn more.

Part 9. Special Situations

DCYF must provide the case planning efforts to incarcerated parents. Visits, family time, and contact between incarcerated parents and their children cannot be denied simply because of parental incarceration. Denial of visitation must focus on whether visits and other contact is actually harmful.

Under the Children of Incarcerated Parents Act, which you can read at bit.ly/3OEBe71, you have these rights:

  • To demand a case conference take place to discuss any relevant case issues.  The incarcerated parent has the right to take part by phone or videoconference.
  • DCYF must create a case plan for all parents, and, where possible, the plan will include treatment options at your facility.
  • DCYF's arrangement of services need not be provided by DOC or the jail but must comply with DOC or jail rules.
  • The plan must provide visits when the court has ordered visits. It does not matter if you are incarcerated. There is not a different standard for denying visits to incarcerated parents compared to parents who are not incarcerated.  
  • Under federal law, the court must review if there is good cause not to order DCYF to file a termination petition or if the court should order DCYF to do so. The court must consider this issue whenever the children have been living out of the parental home for 15 months in a row out of the last 22 months. Under state law, parental incarceration is a good cause reason to not order DCYF to file to terminate parental rights. Example: You are in jail. Because of this, you cannot care for and provide safe and stable housing for your children. The court may find good cause not to order DCYF to file for termination.
  • You have the right to plan with DCYF for a long-term permanency plan for the children that is not termination or adoption, such as guardianship.  

Yes. Special rules apply to Native American children in dependencies under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the state Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA). These laws define an "Indian child" as an unmarried person under age 18 who is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, or eligible for membership of a federally recognized tribe and the biological child of a tribal member. In Washington State, ICWA and WICWA rules apply whenever there is "reason to know" that a child is an "Indian child" under this definition.    

Reporting any Native American ancestry early in the case greatly increases the use of higher standards for the children and family in state court. Tell your DCYF case worker and your attorney about any ancestry that may be a sign of membership in a tribe. 

Once you report any Native American ancestry, any tribe with whom the family might be affiliated must get notice of the dependency case. The tribe must determine and report back whether a child is a tribal member or eligible for membership.  The court and parties must apply the ICWA and WIWCA rules when there is "reason to know" the child is an "Indian" child while they are waiting for the tribe's response/determination.

* The court must ask all parties if the child is an "Indian child" at the 72-hour shelter care hearing and each hearing after that until a child's Indian status is confirmed by the tribe.

For some families, the case may be transferred to tribal court and dismissed from state court. Whether the tribe accepts the case depends on the resources and interests of the children's tribe. The tribe has the right to intervene in state court and become a legal party to the state court case. 

The ICWA and WICWA also make it harder to remove Indian children from their homes or terminate parental rights. DCYF must make extra efforts to offer you services to prevent the removal of your children and to return the children home to you. Under these laws, the court must also place an "Indian" child with relatives, family friends, or in foster care approved by the children's tribe, unless there is good reason not to.

* Read Indian Child Welfare Act to learn more. You can also read the ICWA at 25 USC 21 and the WICWA at RCW 13.38.
* See DCYF's policies on ICWA and WICWA at dcyf.wa.gov/tribal-relations/icw.

Part 10. Get a lawyer in a dependency case

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Última revisión y actualización: Jan 12, 2024
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