The Washington legislature in its "Family Reconciliation Act" developed a legal process by which parents who are experiencing problems with At-Risk Youth can request and receive assistance from juvenile courts in providing appropriate care, treatment, and supervision to such youth. This process is called "At-Risk Youth" or "ARY."
An At Risk Youth is defined as a juvenile:
- Who is absent from home for at least seventy-two consecutive hours without consent of his or her parent;
- Who is beyond the control of his or her parent such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
- Who has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to the substance abuse.
In addition, through this law, a child or a child's parent may file with the juvenile court a "Child in Need of Services" (CHINS) petition to approve an out-of-home placement for the child.
A Child in Need of Services is defined as a juvenile:
- Who is beyond the control of his or her parent such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person;
- Who has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least twenty-four consecutive hours on two or more separate occasions from the home of either parent, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement; and (i) Has exhibited a serious substance abuse problem; or (ii) Has exhibited behaviors that create a serious risk of harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person;
- Who is in need of: (A) Necessary services, including food, shelter, health care, clothing, or education; or
- (B) services designed to maintain or reunite the family; (i) Who lacks access to, or has declined to utilize, these services; and (ii) 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
- Who is a "sexually exploited child".
Casework is provided by the Department of Social and Health Services.
One probation officer is assigned to oversee the court action on these cases.
To contact the Department of Social and Health Services for Cowlitz County, please call 1-360-501-2600.
DSHS is located at:
Deadlines for Filing New At-Risk Youth and CHINS petitions:
- Friday by 5:00 p.m. for the following week's At-Risk Youth Docket
- Contempt petitions Wednesday by noon for that week's At-Risk Youth Docket
For a complete Juvenile Court Schedule, click here.