WA State Solutions for Incarcerated Parents
In 2013, SHB 1284, The Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill passed the Washington State Legislature nearly unanimously with the goal of giving incarcerated parents and their children a fair chance to work toward reunification and safe permanency options that do not involve severing familial ties forever. Since its passage, the bill has allowed our child welfare system to be more responsive to families who face parental incarceration and better determine what is in the best interest of the child. However, many attorneys and social workers are unsure how to use the bill, and what rights it gives to their clients. WDA will respond to this need by providing case assistance, trainings and information on SHB 1284.
SHB 1284 passed giving incarcerated parents the right:
During dependency proceedings to have their service plans reflect the services available at the institution they are confined at, the right to participate in case conference meetings, the right to visitation unless it is not in the best interest of the child.
To delay the filing of a termination by asking the court to make a “good cause exception” when the parent is maintaining a meaningful role in their child’s life--via phone calls, letters, attempts to get DSHS to support the parent, and showing barriers they may have received when trying to maintain a meaningful role (e.g. DSHS didn’t respond to letters or provide visitation)
To not have their rights terminated unnecessarily
Help prevent termination: Help your client prove they maintained a meaningful role in their child’s life and/or that DSHS did not provide reasonable efforts to help your client maintain a role in your child’s life.
If your client is in long-term incarceration, encourage the court to create a guardianship as an alternative to relinquishment and adoption to prevent permanent separation in order to create permanency.
Sample Briefs and Memos (you must be a WDA member to access this section of our website)