At-Risk Youth Supervision
The At-Risk Youth program is one tool to support families and help keep them together. It is described in a part of Washington State Law called the Family Reconciliation Act. The Washington State Legislature places great importance on the family unit, affirming that "…[families] should remain intact in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary." At-Risk Youth supervision aims to keep families functional by reconciling family issues and reinforcing rules of the home. This form of court contact generates no criminal record and maintains a high degree of privacy for those involved.
An at-risk youth is a juvenile who
- is absent from home for at least seventy-two hours without parental consent;
- is beyond parental control to the point that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
- has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to the substance abuse.
ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE THREE CONDITIONS MUST BE MET FOR A FAMILY TO GAIN SERVICES THROUGH AT-RISK YOUTH SUPERVISION.
Parents must be able to describe precisely why their child meets the above criteria as well as attempts they have made to remedy the situation prior to Court contact.
COURT CONTACT SHOULD NOT BE THE FIRST ATTEMPT ON THE PART OF PARENTS TO GAIN CONTROL OF THEIR CHILDREN.
Parents seeking assistance in managing their child's behavior initiate contact by submitting an At-Risk Youth Petition to Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services, 1912 W 18th Street, Port Angeles. Petitions can be picked up and returned here between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. Next, the At-Risk Youth Coordinator gets in touch with the parents to set up a family assessment – an interview designed to collect family background information.
Now, a court hearing is scheduled to present the petition. At-Risk Youth Court takes place in the Juvenile Services Courtroom starting around 8:30 A.M. on Wednesday mornings. If the petition is dismissed the youth goes home with their parents. If the youth is found to be "at-risk" the Court may lay out rules of the home. Counseling, mental health evaluations, substance abuse evaluations, and related treatment may be ordered. To achieve success parents must reiterate the rules of the home when needed, insist that rules of the home are observed, and support their child through any possible evaluations and treatment.
Further Court Appearances
Review hearings are generally scheduled every one to three months. The court will take into consideration progress or otherwise and decide if supervision should continue or cease.
When a child is breaking rules of the home parents should contact the At-Risk Youth coordinator to request the filing of a motion for contempt which will need to be heard in court. Occasionally, an order for apprehension is requested along with a motion for contempt. This is essentially documentation, signed by a judge or commissioner, required to admit the youth to a secure corrections facility so that the motion for contempt can be heard on the following business day. An order for apprehension is only issued in extreme cases (where the youth or others may be in danger, for example). At a contempt hearing the youth may be found to have violated the terms of their court supervision, in which case sanctions may be imposed, otherwise the motion for contempt is dismissed. Sanctions for those found to have violated terms of court supervision can include fines, community service work, detention time in a secure corrections facility, or school-type work such as essays.
Parents petitioning for At-Risk Youth assistance should be aware of their responsibilities as success through court intervention is closely coupled with their participation and willingness to follow through on all court-ordered directives. Please observe the following list of responsibilities:
- petitioner(s) monitor At-Risk Youth court-ordered directives;
- petitioner(s) notify the Court of a youth's non-compliant behavior by requesting a motion for contempt that is filed with the Court;
- petitioner(s) attend all Court hearings (At-Risk Youth hearings, review hearings, contempt hearings);
- petitioner(s) contact the At-Risk Youth coordinator at least twice monthly to report progress;
- petitioner(s) follow through on all court-ordered directives applicable to the petitioner(s);
- petitioner(s) are responsible for fees assessed for court-ordered counseling or treatment
Note: This list is not all-inclusive. Further obligations may exist on the part of petitioning parents. Also, remember that the At-Risk Youth coordinator is available for assistance at any step of the Court process and can be contacted through Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services during normal business hours.
At-Risk Supervision may cease at the request of petitioning parents at any time. At the time of a review hearing it may be found that further court supervision would serve no purpose, prompting dismissal. Also, court supervision should end 180 days after review unless compelling reasons exist that support continued supervision. Finally, the At-Risk Youth coordinator may request dismissal for reasons including flagging support on the part of petitioners.
The above processes do not always progress exactly as outlined. For example, At-Risk Youth hearings, review hearings, and contempt hearings can be continued for further court appearances.
Keep in mind that each family is unique as are their experiences and situations. Those involved with At-Risk Youth participants including parents, coordinators, and service providers often collaborate to find creative ways to address family issues. Court intervention is not always the quickest or most appropriate solution. As such there is no boilerplate response for parents seeking assistance through Juvenile Court.
Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services
1912 W 18th Street, Port Angeles, WA 98363
Family Reconciliation Act:
FOR MATTERS CONCERNING AT-RISK YOUTH SUPERVISION, CONTACT THE AT-RISK YOUTH COORDINATOR AT CLALLAM COUNTY JUVENILE AND FAMILY SERVICES.