15.220 - Child Welfare

Effective Date: 04/01/18

15.220-POL

1. The Department Works with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)/Child Protective Services (CPS)

Officers will notify DSHS/CPS when a child is taken into custody on the report of:

- An abused or neglected child

- A runaway

- A child in dangerous circumstances

DSHS/CPS screens all placements of children taken into custody under these circumstances.

Employees will not provide aid to a child that is outside of the scope of Department policy or State Law.

- If an employee identifies a way to assist a child outside of policy or statute, they will screen the incident with their supervisor and CPS.  If CPS agrees with the solution the employee will document the incident on a GO report.

2. Terminology is Defined for this Policy

A child, juvenile, and youth means any un-emancipated individual who is under the chronological age of eighteen years.

An abused or neglected child refers to any injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances that indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed.

An extended family member is an adult who is a grandparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, aunt, or first cousin with whom the child has a relationship, and is comfortable with, and who is willing and available to care for the child.

A parent is the person or persons who have the legal right to custody of the child. “Parent” includes custodians, guardians, or birth parents.

An officer may determine that a child is in dangerous circumstances based on:

- The child’s physical condition

- The environment where the child is encountered

- The time of day and situation where the child is encountered

The officer’s subjective opinion is the determining factor if the child is in a dangerous circumstance.

3. Employee’s Transport Children in Appropriate Restraint Devices

Employees, in the course of their duty, will transport children in the appropriate restraint device depending on their age and weight as described in SMC 11.58.195.

Employees may call CPS for assistance in obtaining appropriate restraint devices.

If there is exigency to transport a child without the use of the appropriate restraint device, the employee will document the circumstances.

4. Officers May Place a Child in the Custody of a Crisis Residential Center (CRC) or Approved Youth Shelter

A Crisis Residential Center is a secure or semi-secure facility established pursuant to RCW 74.13.032.

An approved youth shelter is a facility under contract to DSHS, providing room and board in a supervised living arrangement, normally in a group or dormitory setting.

- Officers will call DSHS to verify a shelter’s status prior to placing the child.

An officer may transfer custody of a child to a CRC or approved youth shelter under the following circumstances:

- If the child currently 12-17 years old, and

- Is a reported runaway, or is found in dangerous circumstances.

A CRC or approved youth shelter will not accept a child with outstanding warrants or a child in need of medical attention or in need of an emotional or behavioral crisis evaluation.

5. The Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit is Notified in Some Cases

An officer will contact their sergeant if the child has a serious injury and child abuse or neglect is suspected.  The sergeant will contact the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit.

6. Officers Take Custody of Runaway Children and Children in Dangerous Circumstances

RCW 13.32A.050 and RCW 13.32A.060 provides law enforcement’s authority for taking runaway children and children in dangerous circumstances into custody.

Officers will take runaway children and children in dangerous circumstances into custody when any of the following circumstances apply:

- The child is a reported runaway from their home or a law enforcement agency has been notified by the parent of the child that the child is absent from parental custody without consent.

- An officer reasonably believes that a child is in circumstances which constitutes a danger to the child’s safety.

- An agency legally charged with the supervision of a child has notified a law enforcement agency that the child has runaway from placement.

- A juvenile court states that probable cause exists to believe that the child has violated a court placement order or a court order has been issued that directs the police to take the child into custody.

- Officers will transport the child to the King County Youth Services Center (YSC) for violations of a court placement order.

In the case of runaway children and children in dangerous circumstances, an officer is immune from liability if, acting in good faith, they:

- Fail to take a child into custody.

- Take a child into custody.

- Take a child to DSHS, CRC, or a location approved by DSHS.

- Release a child to a person at the request of a parent.

Officers will follow the procedures for investigating child abuse if there is reason to believe, or the child reports, either child abuse or neglect during the investigation of runaway children and children in dangerous circumstances.

See 15.220-TSK-2 Custody and Disposition of Runaway Children and Children in Dangerous Circumstances & 15.220-TSK-3 Officer Investigating the Harboring a Minor

7. Officers Take Custody of Abused or Neglected Children

Officers may take a child into custody without a court order under RCW 26.44.050 if there is probable cause to believe that the child is abused or neglected.

- CPS may ask law enforcement to take a child into custody without a court order if they believe that a child is at risk for further abuse or that the child’s caretaker may hide or flee with the child to avoid investigation of child abuse.

See 15.220-PRO-1-Investigating Child Abuse, Child Neglect and Child Exploitation as Defined by RCW. 26.44.020 & 15.220-TSK-1 Placing an Abused or Neglected Child into Protective Custody Without a Court Order

8. Officers May Photograph a Child in Some Situations

Officers may photograph a child to document evidence of the child’s physical condition.

15.220-PRO-1 - Investigating Child Abuse, Child Neglect and Child Exploitation as Defined by RCW. 26.44.020

Officer

1. Follows 14.060-Serious Incident Plan if required by the incident.

2. Screens the incident with their sergeant.

Sergeant

3. If there is a serious injury to the child, screens the incident with the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit.

Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit

4. Determines if they will respond to the location, advises the sergeant how to proceed with the investigation.

Sergeant

5. Instructs the officer on how to proceed with the investigation.

Officer

6. If the officer is conducting the investigation, follows 15.180-Primary Investigations.

15.220-TSK-1 Placing an Abused or Neglected Child into Protective Custody Without a Court Order

When an officer takes a child into protective custody they will:

1. Screen the incident with a sergeant.

2. Determine if there is a person capable and willing to take care of the child.

3. If the child is not admitted into the hospital, arrange placement of the child with CPS.

- CPS must approve all field placements of children taken into protective custody for abuse or neglect.

4. Call the CPS centralized intake office at 1-800-609-8764 and then press ‘9’ for day time intake and 1-800-562-5624 and press ‘9’ for afterhours intake.

- This will alert the Central Intake social workers that law enforcement is waiting on the telephone line.

5. Explain the circumstances to the Central Intake social worker and provide the following information.

- If a person is available to care for the child, CPS will need all of this person’s information. CPS will complete a record check and determine if the child can be placed with the person.

- If there is no one to place the child with, the Central Intake social worker will research available placement.  If CPS is unable to place the child within 30 minutes, a CPS Field Response worker will respond to the officer’s location to assume custody of the child.

- Inform the Central Intake social worker if police cannot adequately care for the child, or equipment is unavailable to safely transport the child, and a Field Response worker will respond to the location.

6. Document all contact with CPS in the General Offense Report including the name of the person who received the intake information and the person who responds to take custody of the child.

7. Complete a Custody Without Court Order (form 9.45) and leave it at the residence or with the caretaker per RCW 26.44.110.

- Note in the GO where copies were left

- Complete a brief narrative on the form

15.220-TSK-2 Custody and Disposition of Runaway Children and Children in Dangerous Circumstances

When taking custody and determining the disposition of runaway children and children in dangerous circumstances the officer will:

1. Explain to the child why they are in custody.

2. Screen the incident with a sergeant.

3. Attempt to contact the child’s parent.

4a. Transport the child to the parent.

- The parent may request that the child is transported to an extended family member, responsible adult, or a licensed youth shelter.

or

4b. Transport the child to a Crisis Residential Center (or to DSHS if the child does not meet the CRC criteria) in the following circumstances:

- The parent of the child cannot be contacted.

- The parent of the child has been contacted but declines to take custody of the child and declines to provide directions to take the child to an acceptable person or youth shelter.

- In this situation, complete a General Offense Report with “Child-Abandon” listed in the Offenses block.

- Link the General Offense Report to previous runaway reports and list the General Offense Numbers in the narrative.

- The parents have been contacted but it is not practical to transport the child to their location and there is no other acceptable person or youth shelter.

- If the child expresses fear or distress about going back to their home.

- The officer believes that the child is endangered by being returned to their home.

15.220-TSK-3 Officer Investigating the Harboring of a Minor

If an officer has reasonable suspicion a child is being harbored (RCW 13.32A.080 Unlawful Harboring a Minor) they will:

1. Remove the child from the custody of the person harboring the child and take appropriate enforcement action.

- RCW 13.32A.080 Unlawful Harboring a Minor is a gross misdemeanor).

2. If a child is a reported runaway, take the child into custody.

3. Contact the parents and inform them of the incident.

4. Transfer the custody of the child to a CRC or to DSHS.

5. At CRC/DSHS complete a transfer of custody form.

- Forward a copy of this form to the Data Center.

6. Complete a General Offense Report.

- A Supplemental Report may be used if there is already a General Offense Report on file.