43091. Court Report

Original Date: October 20, 2013

Revised Date: October 1, 2019

Sunset Review: October 31, 2023

Approved by: Ross Hunter, Secretary


Purpose

Provide guidance to Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) caseworkers on the requirements for completing and filing court reports. Caseworks must provide the court and legal parties with objective, factual information about the circumstances leading to DCYF and court involvement in a family’s life. The court report also provides:

  • A description of the case plan with documented parental input.
  • A summary on the parent’s progress in services.
  • The court with information about the case plan recommendations.  
  • The court, parents, and caregivers with information about the status of the child’s safety, well-being, and permanency, and any services provided to the child.

Scope

This policy applies to DCYF child welfare employees.

Laws

RCW 13.34.120  Social study and reports made available at disposition hearing - Contents - Notice to parents.

RCW 13.34.136  Permanency plan of care.

RCW 13.34.138  Review hearings - Findings - Duties of parties involved - In-home placement requirements - Housing assistance.

RCW 13.34.145  Permanency planning hearing - Purpose - Time limits - Goals - Review hearing - Petition for termination of parental rights - Guardianship petition - Agency responsibility to provide services to parents - Due process rights

RCW 13.34.400  Child welfare proceedings - Placement - Documentation

RCW 13.38.040  Definitions

RCW 74.13.280  Client information.

42 U.S.C. § 675  Definitions.

Policy

  1. Caseworkers must:
    1. Develop the court report in consultation and in person whenever possible, with:
      1. Parents or legal guardians
      2. Children 12 years and older
      3. Indian child’s tribe
      4. Youth, 14 years or older, may identify up to two members of their case planning team, other than the caregiver or caseworker, to be part of the development of their court report. Participants identified by the child or youth may be excluded if there is reason to believe the identified individuals would not act in the child or youth’s best interest.
    2. Include information outlined in the Court Report Mapping and Guidance Tool when completing the court report.
    3. Verify the following information is included in the court report when a child or youth’s parents or legal guardians are incarcerated:
      1. How the incarcerated parent or guardian will participate in case planning.
      2. The treatment services and resources available in the Department of Corrections (DOC) facility to meet the parent or legal guardian’s individual needs.
      3. A family time schedule or the reasons why family time is not in the best interest of the child.
    4. Obtain supervisor approval of the court report prior to distribution.
    5. Translate the court report into the primary language of the child and the child’s parent or legal guardian prior to distribution, when necessary.
    6. After redacting parent or legal guardian information from the court report, provide a copy to the child’s caregiver.
  2. For dependency cases, caseworkers must:
    1. File the approved court report in court and share with caregivers and legal parties to the case, including but not limited to:
      1. The parents or legal guardians
      2. The parent or legal guardian’s attorneys
      3. A child 12 years of age and older
      4. The child’s attorney
      5. The child’s guardian ad litem (GAL) or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
      6. The Indian child’s tribe
    2. Timeframes
      1. Submit:
        1. The initial court report no later than 10 business days before the dependency disposition hearing or by the 60th calendar day of the placement episode of a child, whichever date occurs first.
        2. The second court report six months from the beginning date of the placement episode or no more than 90 business days from the entry of the disposition order, whichever comes first.
        3. All subsequent court reports at six-month intervals throughout the life of a case to align with regularly scheduled review and permanency planning hearings.
        4. A court report at least 10 business days before a court hearing when a child or youth will be or has been placed in a Behavior Rehabilitation Services (BRS) Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP).
      2. If the court report is submitted to the parties and their attorneys earlier than required, the next report is due no later than 10 business days prior to the next review or permanency planning hearing, or six months from the date of the last report completed, whichever date occurs first.
    3. Include in the court report copies of supporting documents regarding the child or family when a significant change occurs relevant to the case or when a child or youth is placed in a BRS QRTP. Documents include but are not limited to:
      1. Substance abuse treatment
      2. Mental health treatment
      3. Medical and behavioral health services updates
      4. Anger management classes
      5. Domestic violence classes
      6. Family time with a parent/child and sibling visits
      7. Psychological status of child and parent or legal guardian
      8. Physician report documenting injuries to a child
      9. School progress reports, including Individual Education Plans (IEP)
      10. Home study
      11. Licensing action
      12. Background check summaries
      13. BRS QRTP assessment
    4. Consult with the assigned assistant attorney general to determine whether a court report or caseworker declaration is appropriate when changes to the court order are requested by the department, other party, or for interim hearings.
  3. For children in out-of-home care on a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA):
    1. Caseworkers must provide the approved court report by the 60th calendar day of out-of-home placement to:
      1. The parents or legal guardians
      2. A youth 12 years of age and older
      3. The caregivers
      4. The Indian child’s tribe
    2. Court reports are not distributed to the court.
  4. Supervisors must approve and sign each completed court report.

Resources

Court report Mapping and Guidance Tool (Located on the CA Intranet)