This is a summary of SBH 1747 as it is what was heard and passed in committee. SHB 1747 elevates guardianship as a permanency option and adds language to the good cause section of the law dealing with the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights stating that it is good cause to not file if, “The department has not yet met with the caregiver for the child to discuss guardianship as an alternative to adoption or the court has determined that guardianship is an appropriate permanent plan.”
Additionally, the bill states that no child who has been placed under the care of a relative can be moved from the relative’s care unless a court finds that a placement change is necessary. In order to terminate parental rights, the person petitioning to terminate must demonstrate that a guardianship is not sufficient to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the child. In order to determine that the continuation of the parent-child relationship diminishes the child’s prospects for early integration into a stable home, the court must consider the efforts taken by the Department to support a guardianship and whether a guardianship is available as a permanent option for the child.
The bill also establishes that a relative doing a Title 11 guardianship is eligible for the Relative Guardian Assistance Program if they meet the other RGAP criteria. Nothing in this bill may be interpreted as limiting the ability of the agency that has custody of the child to file a petition for the termination of parental rights or a guardianship petition at any time following the establishment of dependency.