Child in Need of Services (CHINS)
A child in need of services is defined by statute as a child under the age of 18 who meets at least one of the following three requirements:
- Is beyond parental control such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person; OR
- Has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least 24 consecutive hours from the parent's home, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement on two or more separate occasions and has exhibited a serious substance abuse problem or behaviors that create a serious risk of hard to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; OR
- Is in need of necessary services, including food, shelter health care, clothing, educational, or services designed to maintain or reunite the family and lacks access to or has declined to utilize these services, and whose parents have evidenced continuing but unsuccessful efforts to maintain the family structure or are unable or unwilling to continue efforts to maintain the family structure.
The purpose of the Child in Need of Services Program is to obtain a court order mandating temporary placement (for up to six months) of a child in a residence other than the home of his/her parent. The need for the placement must be based on a serious conflict between the parent and child that cannot be resolved by delivery of services to the family while the child remains at home. A child, parent, or DSHS may file a CHINS petition. A "parent" is defined as the person(s) having legal right to custody of the child and includes custodian or guardian.
Once a CHINS petition has been filed, the child may be temporarily placed, if not already placed, by DSHS in a crisis residential center, foster family home, licensed group home facility, or any other suitable residence to be determined by the Court and DSHS.
Contact your local Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) office at DSHS and request an appointment for intake and a Family Assessment. At the conclusion of this meeting, the intake caseworker will prepare a Family Assessment. Request a copy of the Family Assessment and attach it to the petition prior to filing. The Court must have a copy of the Family Assessment before proceeding with the hearing.
FRS Contact Info:
- Days (8:00am-4:30pm): 1-800-609-8764
- After hours (4:30pm-8:00am): 1-800-562-5624
- Step 4: Once you have completed steps 1-3, file your petition, along with the FRS Family Assessment and ID Information Sheet, at the Clerk’s Office. (See Clerk's Office Locations.) Petitions may be filed at any Clerk's Office location, but hearings will occur in the courthouse corresponding to the zip code the parent resides in. In general, Seattle, Eastside, and North King County cases will be heard in Seattle, and South King County cases will be heard in Kent. (Note: The Clerk's Office closes for lunch from 12:15 to 1:15, Monday-Friday.)
- Step 5: After filing a petition, it must be properly served to the person you are filing against along with a Notice of Hearing that you received from the Clerk's Office. The server MUST be someone other than the petitioner who is age 18 or older. This person must hand the party a copy of the documents that are coming before the court. After the server delivers the court papers to the opposing party, the server should complete the Declaration of Service form. That form requires the server to make a sworn statement to the court (under oath) that s/he served the party with the necessary court papers. The server must date and sign the form at the bottom and return it to the party requesting her/his services. That form constitutes "proof of service" and should be brought to the hearing. If the child is on the run and personal service is not possible contact a case manager for further information.
If an interpreter for the youth and/or parent(s) is necessary, let the Clerk's office know at the time of filing. Provide the name of the person needing an interpreter and the language requested. King County Superior Court will pay for all interpreter services.
There is no cost to file a petition or for the FRS Family assessment. However, the parent shall be financially responsible for costs related to the court-ordered plan (counseling, drug/alcohol evaluations/treatment, mental health evaluations, etc.). In addition, there may be a cost for the attorney that is appointed for your child.
Whenever the court approves an out-of-home placement, the court shall inquire into the ability of the parents to contribute to the child's support. If the court finds that the parents are able to contribute to the support of the child, the court shall order them to make support payments. However, a parent who has BOTH opposed the placement and continuously sought reconciliation with, and return of, the child shall NOT be financially responsible for out-of-home placement costs.
If you need more assistance after reading this webpage, contact a case manager.
At the time you file a petition with the Court Clerk's Office, you will receive a court date for a fact-finding hearing.
At the Fact Finding hearing, the court will grant the petition if the petitioner alleges the statutory requirements and those allegations are proven by a preponderance of the evidence. After the facts have been decided, the court may impose conditions of supervision on the child. The court also may order the parent to participate in services. This may be done at fact-finding or at a separate dispositional hearing.
No condition of supervision shall include involuntary commitment for substance abuse or mental health treatment.
At the conclusion of the disposition, the court will schedule the matter for a review hearing within 90 days. At this hearing, the court reviews the conditions of supervision previously imposed and makes any necessary additions or modifications.
- Obtain copies of all relevant written records and make two copies of any document you plan on submitting to the Court.
- You may bring witnesses to provide testimony at the hearing. Written sworn statements from witnesses who cannot appear personally at the hearing are acceptable. A "sworn" statement must contain the language "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct" underneath the statement, signed and dated with the city noted.
- Prepare a short background summary of the situation for the court; be aware that everything you provide to the court must be provided to all parties.
- Be on time for your hearing.
- Upon arrival, sign-in and have a seat in the waiting area.
- Be familiar with your papers. You may use written notes and may take notes during the hearing.
- Listen for your case to be called over the loudspeaker. You will be called to report to a designated courtroom.
- No food, drinks nor gum chewing are permitted in the courtroom. Turn off cell phones and pagers during your hearing.
- Although these are open hearings, you may ask the court to identify parties in the courtroom that you do not know. You may object to the presence of any individual who is not a party to the action by asking that the court exclude that individual from the courtroom. The court may in its discretion ask that person to leave or allow the person to remain.
When testifying before the Court:
- Be respectful and courteous with the Court.
- Always address the Judge/Commissioner as "Your Honor."
- Do not interrupt.
- If something needs to be clarified, wait until it is your turn to speak or politely ask to speak again.
- Do not speak until the Judge/Commissioner asks you to speak.
- When speaking the Judge/Commissioner, keep your head up and maintain eye contact. Keep your hands away from your mouth and speak loudly.
- Stick to the facts.
- Describe incidents clearly and concisely.
- Do not leave the building before obtaining a copy of the court order signed by the Judge/Commissioner from the Court Coordinator.
- Read the order carefully to ensure that everything is written as indicated by the Judge/Commissioner.
- Make a note of the date and time of the next court hearing in your calendar.
- If the court order includes individual or family counseling, anger management, drug/alcohol evaluation or treatment, psychological/psychiatric evaluation or treatment, you should begin exploring service providers and get a program set up immediately; you may contact DSHS for referrals. You may ask a case manager for assistance.
Failure by any party to comply with a court order is contempt of court. Violations of the court order should be reported to the court through the filing of a contempt motion. A contempt motion may be filed by a parent, a child, or a person/agency having custody of the child. If the court makes a finding of contempt at a contempt hearing, the court may impose coercive sanctions, such as research papers or community service hours, alternatives to secure detention, such as work crew or electronic home monitoring, confinement for up to seven days in juvenile detention or a fine of up to $100, or any combination of these sanctions. You do not need to wait for a scheduled review hearing to report violations of the court's orders.
An appointment with a case manager is necessary to file a contempt motion or request a warrant. You MUST call ahead and schedule an appointment to meet with a case manager for assistance, or drop in during open office hours (listen to phone messages for times).
- Maleng Regional Justice Center (Kent) - Amy Andree (firstname.lastname@example.org), (206) 477-2759
(Auburn, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Tahoma, & Tukwila school districts)
- King County Courthouse (Seattle) - Karen Chapman (email@example.com), (206) 477-4946
(Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Riverview, Seattle, Shoreline, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, & Vashon school districts)
How can a Case Manager help?
- Provide direct and clear information about the court process and requirements
- Provide honest and supportive feedback about what the court can do
- Return calls within 48 hours, and, usually much sooner
- Provide information about community resources
- Make referrals to service providers in your community
- Troubleshoot problems in other systems or agencies
- Attend court and explain the outcome
- Make referrals to services in your community
- Assist with filing contempt motions
What can't a Case Manager do?
- Provide legal advice to families
- Serve youth with petitions or motions
- Secure a placement for a youth