It is the intent of the legislature that parents are responsible for the care and support of children with developmental disabilities. The legislature recognizes that, because of the intense support required to care for a child with developmental disabilities, the help of an out-of-home placement may be needed. It is the intent of the legislature that, when the sole reason for the out-of-home placement is the child's developmental disability, such services be offered by the department to these children and their families through a voluntary placement agreement. In these cases, the parents shall retain legal custody of the child.
As used in this section, "voluntary placement agreement" means a written agreement between the department and a child's parent or legal guardian authorizing the department to place the child in a licensed facility. Under the terms of this agreement, the parent or legal guardian shall retain legal custody and the department shall be responsible for the child's placement and care. The agreement shall at a minimum specify the legal status of the child and the rights and obligations of the parent or legal guardian, the child, and the department while the child is in placement. The agreement must be signed by the child's parent or legal guardian and the department to be in effect, except that an agreement regarding an Indian child shall not be valid unless executed in accordance with RCW 13.38.150. Any party to a voluntary placement agreement may terminate the agreement at any time. Upon termination of the agreement, the child shall be returned to the care of the child's parent or legal guardian unless the child has been taken into custody pursuant to RCW 13.34.050 or 26.44.050, placed in shelter care pursuant to RCW 13.34.060, or placed in foster care pursuant to RCW 13.34.130.
As used in this section, "out-of-home placement" and "out-of-home care" mean the placement of a child in a foster family home or group care facility licensed under chapter 74.15 RCW.
Whenever the department places a child in out-of-home care under a voluntary placement pursuant to this section, the department shall have the responsibility for the child's placement and care. The department shall develop a permanency plan of care for the child no later than sixty days from the date that the department assumes responsibility for the child's placement and care. Within the first one hundred eighty days of the placement, the department shall obtain a judicial determination pursuant to RCW 13.04.030(1)(j) and 13.34.270 that the placement is in the best interests of the child. If the child's out-of-home placement ends before one hundred eighty days have elapsed, no judicial determination under RCW 13.04.030(1)(b) is required. The permanency planning hearings shall review whether the child's best interests are served by continued out-of-home placement and determine the future legal status of the child.
The department shall provide for periodic administrative reviews as required by federal law. A review may be called at any time by either the department, the parent, or the legal guardian.
Nothing in this section shall prevent the department from filing a dependency petition if there is reason to believe that the child is a dependent child as defined in RCW 13.34.030.
The department shall adopt rules providing for the implementation of chapter 386, Laws of 1997 and the transfer of responsibility for out-of-home placements from the dependency process under chapter 13.34 RCW to the process under this chapter.
It is the intent of the legislature that the department undertake voluntary out-of-home placement in cases where the child's developmental disability is such that the parent, guardian, or legal custodian is unable to provide the necessary care for the child, and the parent, guardian, or legal custodian has determined that the child would benefit from placement outside of the home. If the department does not accept a voluntary placement agreement signed by the parent, a petition may be filed and an action pursued under chapter 13.34 RCW. The department shall inform the parent, guardian, or legal custodian in writing of their right to civil action under chapter 13.34 RCW.
Nothing in this section prohibits the department from seeking support from parents of a child, including a child with a developmental disability if the child has been placed into care as a result of an action under chapter 13.34 RCW, when state or federal funds are expended for the care and maintenance of that child or when the department receives an application for services from the physical custodian of the child, unless the department finds that there is good cause not to pursue collection of child support against the parent or parents.
[2011 c 309 § 34; 2004 c 183 § 4; 1998 c 229 § 1; 1997 c 386 § 16.]
| Effective date -- 2004 c 183: See note following RCW 13.34.160.|