Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 2591: Notifying foster parents of dependency hearings and their opportunity to be heard in those hearings

HB 2591 would amend current statute to ensure the notice of children’s foster parents, preadoptive parents, and other caregivers regarding their right to be heard prior to each proceeding regarding their child in juvenile court be given in a timely and adequate manner. This is specified as notice at the time the department would be required to give notice to parties involved in the case and by any means reasonably certain of ensuring notification – including written, telephone, or in-person notification.

Following hearings, the court would be required to establish in writing whether the department provided adequate notice, whether a caregiver’s report was received by the court, and whether the department provided the caregiver with an opportunity to be heard in court.

Finally, the bill would amend statute to require DSHS to provide a copy of their annual report providing information on cases that fail to meet statutory guidelines to achieve permanency for dependent children to a representative of the Foster Parent Association of Washington State. The report would be required to provide information regarding timely notification of dependency hearings.

As amended in the Early Learning/Human Services Committee the bill: Requires the Department of Social and Health Services to provide foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and caregivers with timely and adequate notice of their right to be heard before each dependency court proceeding. Requires a court to make written findings regarding whether foster parents were notified of dependency court hearings, whether the court received a caregiver’s report, and whether the court provided the foster parents, preadoptive parents, or caregivers an opportunity to be heard. Requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to include in their Annual Dependency Report information regarding whether foster parents received timely notification of court hearings and whether caregivers submitted reports to the court.