Approval: Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary
Original Date: July 1, 1997
Revised Date: July 1, 2018
Policy Review: Oct 31, 2021
To inform caseworkers of the eligibility and notification requirements for reinstatement of parental rights.
This policy applies to Division of Children and Family Services staff.
RCW 13.34.215 Petition reinstating terminated parental rights - Notice - Achievement of permanency plan - Effect of granting the petition - Hearing - Child support liability - Retroactive application - Limitation on liability.
The caseworker must:
- Notify dependent youth of their right to petition the court for reinstatement of parental rights if the parent whose rights have been previously terminated contacts the Department or GAL regarding reinstatement and the following criteria is met:
- Youth was previously dependent and parental rights were terminated in a proceeding under Chapter 13.34 RCW; and
- Youth is age 12 and older unless the court finds good cause to hear a petition from a youth under 12 years old, and
- Youth has been legally free for three or more years since the final termination order was entered.
- If the youth has not achieved or will not achieve a permanent plan in the next three months, or the permanent plan was achieved but has not been sustained. Document the notification in a case note.
- If the youth wants to petition for reinstatement, assist the youth with obtaining legal counsel by:
- Contacting the legal counsel already assigned to the youth in the dependency case, or
- Requesting legal counsel at the next review hearing or if no hearing is scheduled, make a request for an early review.
- If the youth files a petition to reinstate parental rights, complete a Safety Assessment and Plan and background check of the parent whose rights were previously terminated and any other adults in the home prior to making reinstatement recommendations to the court. Evaluate whether reinstatement is in the child’s best interests by considering the following:
- Whether reinstatement will present a risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the youth.
- Whether the parent whose rights have been terminated has addressed their parental deficiencies and whether they are fit to parent the youth now.
- The youth’s age and maturity and ability to express their preference,
- Other changes in circumstances to warrant granting reinstatement of parental rights.
- Provide a report to the court describing the department’s assessment of a conditional return home and recommendation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled threshold hearing. If the recommendation is return home, note that in the court report. The threshold hearing will determine if the petition will move forward to a court hearing on the merits of the case.
- Give prior notice of any hearing in the reinstatement case to the youth’s former parent whose parental rights are the subject of the reinstatement petition, any parent whose rights have not been terminated, the youth’s current caregiver, and the child’s tribe if applicable.
- If the petition is not dismissed at the threshold hearing, provide a report to court explaining the efforts to achieve the child’s permanent plan, including efforts to achieve adoption or guardianship, and why the Department does or does not believe that reinstatement would be in the child’s best interests.
- Complete the following if the court conditionally grants the petition to reinstate parental rights:
- Supervise placement for six months as per Trial Return Home policy.
- Have a shared planning meeting between ages 17 and 17.5 to discuss and develop a personalized, youth-directed transition plan.
- Conduct monthly caseworker visits and health and safety checks in the home, not to exceed 40 days between each visit as per Health and Safety Visits with Children and Monthly Visits with Caregivers and Parents policy.
- Provide services to the family to stabilize and maintain placement.
- At least two weeks prior to the hearing to review the conditional order of reinstatement, the case worker must provide a report to the court assessing the child’s placement in the parental home and a placement recommendation.
- If the placement with the parent is successful for 6 months, the court may enter a final order of reinstatement of parental rights. A proceeding to reinstate parental rights is a separate action from a termination of parental rights proceeding, and an order reinstating parental rights does not vacate the original termination of parental rights order. At the time a final order to reinstate parental rights is entered, the dependency will be dismissed. The caseworker must then:
- Document the court’s decision to dismiss the dependency and
- Close the case.
Safety Assessment and Plan DSHS form 15-258