The legislature finds that within any group of people there exists a need for guidelines for acceptable behavior and that, presumptively, the experience and maturity of parents make them better qualified to establish guidelines beneficial to and protective of their children. The legislature further finds that it is the right and responsibility of adults to establish laws for the benefit and protection of the society; and that, in the same manner, the right and responsibility for establishing reasonable guidelines for the family unit belongs to the adults within that unit. Further, absent abuse or neglect, parents have the right to exercise control over their children. The legislature reaffirms its position stated in RCW 13.34.020
that the family unit is the fundamental resource of American life which should be nurtured and that it should remain intact in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary.
The legislature recognizes there is a need for services and assistance for parents and children who are in conflict. These conflicts are manifested by children who exhibit various behaviors including: Running away, substance abuse, serious acting out problems, mental health needs, and other behaviors that endanger themselves or others.
The legislature finds many parents do not know their rights regarding their adolescent children and law enforcement. Parents and courts feel they have insufficient legal recourse for the chronic runaway child who is endangering himself or herself through his or her behavior. The legislature further recognizes that for chronic runaways whose behavior puts them in serious danger of harming themselves or others, secure facilities must be provided to allow opportunities for assessment, treatment, and to assist parents and protect their children. The legislature intends to give tools to parents, courts, and law enforcement to keep families together and reunite them whenever possible.
The legislature recognizes that some children run away to protect themselves from abuse or neglect in their homes. Abused and neglected children should be dealt with pursuant to chapter 13.34
RCW and it is not the intent of the legislature to handle dependency matters under this chapter.
The legislature intends services offered under this chapter be on a voluntary basis whenever possible to children and their families and that the courts be used as a last resort.
The legislature intends to increase the safety of children through the preservation of families and the provision of assessment, treatment, and placement services for children in need of services and at-risk youth including services and assessments conducted under chapter 13.32A
RCW and *RCW 74.13.033
. Within available funds, the legislature intends to provide these services through crisis residential centers in which children and youth may safely reside for a limited period of time. The time in residence shall be used to conduct an assessment of the needs of the children, youth, and their families. The assessments are necessary to identify appropriate services and placement options that will reduce the likelihood that children will place themselves in dangerous or life-threatening situations.
The legislature recognizes that crisis residential centers provide an opportunity for children to receive short-term necessary support and nurturing in cases where there may be abuse or neglect. The legislature intends that center staff provide an atmosphere of concern, care, and respect for children in the center and their parents.
The legislature intends to provide for the protection of children who, through their behavior, are endangering themselves. The legislature intends to provide appropriate residential services, including secure facilities, to protect, stabilize, and treat children with serious problems. The legislature further intends to empower parents by providing them with the assistance they require to raise their children.
Short title—1995 c 312:
"This act may be known and cited as the "Becca bill."" [ 1995 c 312 § 2.
Effective date—Severability—1979 c 155:
See notes following RCW 13.04.011