Working to transform the child welfare system.


SB 5389: Relating to sibling visitation for children in foster care

Sponsored by Senator Billig, SB5389 is the companion to HB 1204.

Substitute Bill:  SB 5389 The substitute bill states that sibling visitation may be denied if a facility where the child or sibling resides prohibits or limits visits or contacts with siblings. The provision granting a child the ability to petition the court to become a party to their sibling’s case is removed.

Second Substitute Bill:   Gives DSHS additional latitude in conducting sibling visitation (“The supervising agency or department shall attempt the maximum child and sibling interaction possible, including at least two visits or contacts per month.”) Removes reference to in-person visits being in the best interest of the child.

As amended on the Senate floor:  Retains the language stating that DSHS, the court, or the caregiver in the out-of-home placement may not limit contact or visitation as a sanction for a child’s behavior or as an incentive to the child to change the child’s behavior. Any exceptions, limitations, or denial of contacts or visitation must be approved by the supervisor of the caseworker and documented. The child, parent, DSHS, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate may challenge the denial of visits in court.

As amended in the ELHS Committee:  The word sibling, that had been struck inadvertently in an existing part of the law, was added back.