Child Protective Services Cases in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties
Child Protective Services (CPS) exists to protect children in danger. Any person can report an instance of abuse or neglect to CPS, which investigates the allegations. However, CPS is a large, bureaucratic organization that sometimes lacks sensitivity to unique family dynamics. CPS can overlook the rights of parents and not adhere to the boundaries of state power. These oversights can act to the detriment of the same children and families that CPS seeks to assist. An effective attorney can help you during this critical investigation phase.
Linda Staples has a wealth of experience in child welfare cases and brings compassion and understanding to your side. She knows that the happiness and health of your child is most important to you, and has spent years in the courtroom as a powerful advocate in dependency hearings and administrative law, and has earned a reputation in this area of the law.
In Washington, child welfare law is generally referred to as Dependency Law. A dependent child is any child under the age of 18 who has been abandoned, abused, or neglected, or else has no capable parent, guardian, or custodian. The child is therefore in danger of physical or psychological harm. Once a dependency petition is filed, juvenile court holds a hearing within 72 hours. (Shelter care.)
If the court finds that the child is dependent, the court can remove the child from the home and place in foster care or with a relative, or in some cases, the child can remain at home.
A child generally enters the dependency system when Child Protective Services (CPS), a division of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) files a dependency petition. By law, the parents receive remedial services. The case is reviewed periodically, until:
- The child returns to the parents
- Permanent placement is formalized
- Parental rights are terminated
In a dependence case, each party should be represented by an attorney. Linda Staples has extensive experience representing clients in this complex area of the law.
Parental Rights and Relative Placement
It is devastating when the State takes a child from the home. But parents still have many rights. Without an attorney who understands these rights and can navigate the child welfare system, it can be difficult to protect parental rights.
Moreover, Washington law requires that children removed from their parents’ custody to be placed with family. Unfortunately, DSHS does not always locate relatives, and the children are consequently placed in foster care. After DSHS identifies relatives, the organization is sometimes reluctant to move the child from foster care.
Linda Staples has handled hundreds of cases involving parental rights. We have the knowledge and compassion to effectively guide you through this process and protect your rights as a parent. We can work with the family to advocate for grandchildren, nieces, or nephews to be placed with relatives. The desire is to keep siblings together.
Dependent Children and Youth
The court must heed a child’s voice in a dependency case. Although the courts’ practices vary by county, the court appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL) or a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) to advocate for the child’s best interests.
By statute some children are appointed their own attorney.
The court can appoint an attorney to represent the stated interests of a youth over the age of 12. Most dependent youths have a perspective incomparable with any other party in the dependency case. Courts are obligated to listen to the youth’s perspective because they are the most affected by the rulings.
Child Abuse Administrative Findings
While a dependency proceeding is pending, the judge in an administrative proceeding that is concurrent and independent can issue findings of abuse or neglect. Findings can be made regarding:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Negligent treatment of a child
These findings can affect a person’s ability to foster a child or work at a school or nursing home. They can lose their job based on these findings.
Foster parents play a key role for children throughout dependency and administrative proceedings. Foster parents, both relative and non-relative, can also be investigated for allegations of abuse and neglect, similarly to any person who parents a child.
Child in Need of DSHS Assistance or CPS (CHINS)
At times children, whether biological or adopted, may develop such serious issues that a parent cannot safely and effectively handle the child. Each family that finds itself in this situation faces a unique set of problems.
In addition the child may not wish to return home under some particular circumstances. In this event, the child may request that a CHINS petition be filed on their behalf.