RCW 13.32A.030 defines a child who is in need of services as a juvenile (under the age of 18) who:
- is beyond parental control such that the child’s behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person; or
- has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least 24 consecutive hours from the parent’s home, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement on two or more separate occasions and has exhibited a serious substance abuse problem or behaviors that create a serious risk of hard to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
- is in need of necessary services, including food, shelter health care, clothing, educational, or services designed to maintain or reunite the family and lacks access to or has declined to utilize these services, and whose parents have evidenced continuing but unsuccessful efforts to maintain the family structure or are unable or unwilling to continue efforts to maintain the family structure; or
- is a “sexually exploited child.”
The purpose of the Child in Need of Services (CHINS) Program is to obtain a court order requiring temporary placement (for up to six months) of a child in a residence other than the home of his/her parent. The requirement for placement must be based on a serious conflict between the parent and child that cannot be resolved by providing services to the family while the child remains in the home. A child, parent (custodian/guardian), or DCFY may file a CHINS petition. After a CHINS petition has been filed, the child may be temporarily placed by Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCFY) caseworker in a crisis residential center, foster family home, licensed group home facility, or any other suitable residence to be determined by the Court. It is important to have an experienced attorney by your side as the different systems can be difficult to navigate without previous knowledge or experience.