Dependencies are complicated. Parents need to learn about many things about the system very quickly. It is helpful to have a central place to look for information about resources and services a parent can use.
These are links to websites that have helpful information. A parent should always ask their attorney about the information they find and read about.
Where is Court located?
In King County, there are two places dependency court is held: In Kent, at the Regional Justice Center, and in Seattle at the Youth Services Center. These are the County websites for those buildings:
Website for the Youth Services Center in Seattle:
Website for the Regional Justice Center in Kent:
Where are the laws about dependencies in Washington State?
There are many laws, sometimes called statutes, about dependencies. They are in different parts of the law books. There is a State website that have them online. Most of the laws are under RCW 13.34 (revised code of Washington):
This is the link to the laws about type of guardianship that sometimes come out of dependencies:
This is the link to the laws about parents and children involved in dependencies. Children who are members or can be members in a recognized Native American Tribe have special laws that apply to them, in many cases giving them added protection:
Dependencies often include a question as to whether a child has been abused or neglected. The definition of abuse or neglect has been put in a different section of the statute books. This is the link to that statute. It is very important to understand what it says.
What are the Court rules about dependencies?
There are also separate rules, similar to laws, that are made by the Courts themselves. There are two main types: State rules and rules for King County.
This is the link to the State Rules about Juvenile cases, which include within them dependencies.
This is the link the State Rules about Civil case in general. Dependencies are considered a special type of civil case. They are not considered criminal cases.
King County also has specific rules it has made for cases. They are called local rules. This is the link for the King County Local Rules for Juvenile Cases, which include dependencies.
What kind of programs are there for parents involved in the dependency courts?
There are programs that are specifically set up to help parents involved in the dependency system.
Parents for Parents program.
The Parents for Parents program has been set up to help parents understand how they can work with their case, and to have a support network of other parents who have been through the process. This is a link to their website:
Family Treatment Court
Many times, families get involved in dependency court because of problems with drug or alcohol abuse. There is a very intensive program set up to help parents overcome these problems and to help them get their children home. This is a link to their website:
Early Case Resolution Management
King County has set up a program to help parents get parenting plans ordered in family court. They have paid attorneys that prepare the documents necessary to get the parenting plan or to modify an existing parenting plan. The attorney do not represent the parents. They only help complete the paperwork. You should contact your attorney to fill out a form for this program.
The Department of Social and Health Services Children’s administration
The state government agency that starts many dependencies is the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS for short). The division within DSHS that is mainly responsible for these case is the Children’s administration. They have rules and guidelines that say how they should do their job.
This is the link to their Practices and Procedures Guide.
This is the link to their Case Services Policy Manual.
DSHS has many manuals and documents. This is link to a partial list:
Is there a place to make a complaint about DSHS?
There a many ways to make a complaint about DSHS or employees of DSHS. You should always ask your attorney for their advice before you do that.
Complain to the social worker’s supervisor or the area administrator
All social workers have a supervisor, who should be aware of what is happening in a case. If you are not being helped or there are other problems, you can call or write the supervisor. In some cases, you can contact the head person for the office that the worker works in. They are called area administrators. You should ask your attorney first before you contact the supervisor or the area administrator.
The Governor’s Ombudsman for Family and Children Services
The Governor has an Office staffed by people that can independently investigate the Children’s Administration. They have forms you can fill out to complain. This is their website.
Contact your legislators
You have a state representative and a state senator. In some cases, they can investigate problems. However, they are limited in what they can do. This is a link to find the name and contact information for your state legislators.
Violations of your civil rights
Sometimes state or county workers may violate your civil rights. There are a number of Offices that investigate civil rights violations. Examples of civil rights violations include discrimination against someone because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or a number of other classes. The laws regarding civil rights can vary. These are some links to places to file a complaint about a civil rights violation:
The City of Seattle:
The State of Washington Civil Rights Commission: