Sponsored by Sen. Becker, SB 5315 states that in a dependency hearing and upon determining that the child should be removed from the home, if a court orders the child to be placed with a caregiver over the objections of the parent, the court must articulate on the record the court's reasons for ordering the placement. Additionally, when a parent or sibling who desires visitation with a child is an identified suspect in an active criminal investigation that, if the allegations are true, would impact the safety of the child, DSHS must make a concerted effort to consult with the assigned law enforcement officer in the criminal case before recommending any changes in parent/child or child/sibling contact. The results of the consultation must be communicated to the court. DSHS must develop policies and protocols for consultation with the assigned law enforcement officer in the event of an active criminal investigation of the parent. In the event a judge orders a parent to undergo a psychosexual evaluation, and pending the outcome of the evaluation, DSHS must reassess visitation duration, supervision, and location, if appropriate. If the assessment indicates the current visitation plan might compromise the safety of the child, DSHS, subject to approval by the court, may alter the plan, pending the outcome of the evaluation. Caseworkers employed in child services must receive ongoing domestic violence training and consultation, including how to use the Children's Administration's practice guide to domestic violence.
Effect of changes made by Human Services & Corrections Committee: DSHS must consult with law enforcement when a parent or sibling who desires visitation with the child is an identified suspect in an active criminal investigation that, if the allegations are true, would impact the safety of the child. If DSHS determines that visitation of the child should be altered pending the outcome of a parent's psychosexual evaluation, it must seek the approval of the court.
As amended by the ELHS Committee:
- Adds "if the allegations are true, would" to the provision that requires the Department of Social and Health Services to develop visitation protocols in consultation with law enforcement for a parent or a sibling identified as a suspect in an active criminal investigation.
- Specifies that if the Department objects to a placement with a caregiver, the courts must articulate on the record the reason for the ordered placement.
- Limits the Department's obligation to consult with law enforcement before modifying family visits if a parent or sibling is a suspect in a criminal investigation for a violent crime, rather than all crimes.
- Requires law enforcement officers to provide available information pertaining to the criminal case that may have serious implications for child safety or well-being to the Department during consultation.
- Specifies that information provided to the Department by law enforcement during consultation may only be used to inform family visitation plans, may not be shared or distributed, and is exempt from public inspection.
- Limits the Department's obligation to consult with law enforcement to develop family visitation protocols if a parent or sibling is a suspect in a criminal investigation for a violent crime, rather than all crimes.
- Specifies that assessments to family visitation are subject to the approval of the court.