New Children and Family Justice Center
Why does King County need to invest in a new Children and Family Justice Center?
The existing Youth Services Center courthouse is more than 40 years old and no longer meets the needs of the juvenile court system. Replacement of the facility has been the county's highest priority capital project since 2008.The existing Youth Service Center buildings will require at least a $40 million investment just to replace the core building systems. The King County Executive and Metropolitan King County Council agree that a total replacement of the Youth Services Center is more cost effective than trying to repair the decaying structures.
What matters will be handled in the new courthouse?
Superior Court intends to unify juvenile and family law matters for north King County at the new Children and Family Justice Center. This means all of the existing functions currently handled at the Youth Services Center will continue to be heard in the new center. This includes north county juvenile dependency, truancy, at-risk youth, child-in-need-of-services cases and countywide juvenile offender matters. Planning for the site will allow the future addition of north county family law matters involving children, including divorces, legal separations, paternity, child support, and domestic violence as envisioned in the facilities master plan adopted by the County Council.
What are the benefits of unifying juvenile and family law matters in North King County?
Currently, juvenile and family law matters are split in north King County between the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle and the Youth Services Center, located at 12th Ave. and Alder. By unifying juvenile and family law matters, it enables Superior Court to provide onsite assistance and coordination for youth and families involved in the justice system at a single site. Such co-location will ultimately reduce public confusion regarding where to go for court services and will allow for more efficient and effective service provision by the court through a comprehensive, systemic approach to cases involving youth and families.
How large is the proposed facility?
Based on preliminary planning efforts, the juvenile courthouse will be approximately 138,000 square feet and have ten courtrooms. The detention center will be approximately 97,000 square feet and have 154 dorms.
Will the juvenile detention center remain on the site?
Yes, King County juvenile offenders will continue to be handled on the site. An onsite detention facility is essential in order for the county to minimize the costs associated with the transport of in-custody youth.
How will the new building affect traffic and parking in the neighborhood?
The county has evaluated traffic flow and parking in and around the campus. A new, centrally located parking garage located within the interior of the site should improve traffic flow and neighborhood aesthetics.
When will construction start and how long will it last?
The County Council is expected to formally approve funding for the project in early 2013. After that, King County will hire a firm to design the new CFJC campus, including designs for the new courthouse, detention facility, and parking structure. This process will take about two years to complete, and will include community input. Once the final design and permits have been approved, construction will start. Right now, the county estimates that construction will begin in August 2015. The courthouse and detention facility would open in July 2018, followed by the parking structure in September 2019. However, this is an estimate, and is subject to change.
What will the new buildings look like?
During the design phases, concepts for the new facilities will be explored. The project will seek to incorporate design guidelines from the Court, neighborhood, and regulatory agencies to determine how tall the structures will be and how wide, as well as the style of architecture. The county will seek input from the community, and share building design plans prior to construction.
Will there be open space?
The site plan concept calls for areas to be reserved on the campus to serve as community spaces.
Will the current Youth Services Center be open during construction? If not, where can we go for services?
It is anticipated at this time that the existing buildings will remain open during construction of the new facilities. However, as planning efforts proceed, this could change.