Child Welfare Cases in Seattle, WA
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 Lillevik 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 for excellence 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.
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. Carey & Lillevik attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in this complex area of the law. Linda Lillevik drafted the Dependency Practice Standards published by the Washington Defender Association and adopted by the Washington State Legislature.
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 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 reluctant to move the child from foster care.
Carey & Lillevik attorneys have 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 ensure that grandchildren, nieces, or nephews are placed with relatives.
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.
In contrast, 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. Attorneys at Carey & Lillevik have extensive experience representing dependent children and youth.
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. Carey & Lillevik attorneys have a deep and compassionate understanding for the foster parent perspective. We have represented many such parents in numerous types of cases including administrative proceedings, dependency proceedings, and adoptions. We are happy to discuss your unique situation with you and are available to represent your interests.
Child in Need of DSHS Assistance or CPS
At times children, whether biological or adopted, may develop such serious mental health issues that a parent cannot safely and effectively handle the child alone. Each family that finds itself in this situation faces a unique set of problems. Carey & Lillevik can help you determine what your values and goals are concerning the needs of your child and family. We then work with you to hold onto your values and meet your goals. We discuss the legal tools available to address your unique challenges and weigh each alternative.
Carey & Lillevik can provide legal advice regarding available services and legal options.