Sponsored by Representative Freeman, HB 1821 adds to the good cause exceptions listed for situations in which parental rights are to be terminated as a result of the child being in out-of-home care for 15 of the last 22 months. The new exceptions are: situations in which a parent has been accepted into a dependency treatment court program or long-term substance abuse or dual diagnosis treatment program and is demonstrating compliance with treatment goals, as well as when the department has been unable to pay for and provide to the child’s family the services that the court and department have determined are necessary and the parent is financially unable to pay for those services.
Substitute bill: As amended, the circumstances for which a court may enter a “good cause exception” to prevent the filing of a termination petition are expanded to include the following: a parent has been accepted into a dependency treatment court program or long-term substance abuse or dual diagnoses treatment program and is demonstrating compliance with treatment goals; or the DSHS has been unable to pay for and provide to the child’s family such services as the court and the DSHS have deemed necessary for the child’s safe return home and the parent has filed a declaration under penalty of perjury stating his or her financial inability to pay the cost of the same service. The good cause exception that permits the DSHS to not file a parental termination petition when the DSHS has not provided the child’s family such services as the court and the DSHS have deemed necessary for the child’s safe return home is restored.
As amended by the ELHS Committee: A parent’s declaration under penalty of perjury must state the parent’s inability to pay for court-ordered services and must also state that DSHS was unwilling or unable to pay for those services. (Fiscal note: There is the potential for an indeterminate fiscal impact and delays to permanency. The bill does not define a required treatment time for treatment or whether the treatment can be either in-patient or out-patient. In addition, the bill does not address recidivism with a parent who may be attempting treatment for a second or subsequent treatment. These issues could delay permanency as parents complete treatment and increase out-of-home foster care placement costs. In addition, if the court orders specific services that the Department currently doesn’t cover, this would increase costs.)