At Risk Youth

Walla Walla/Columbia County
At Risk Youth Program

A child's parent may file with the juvenile court a petition in the interest of a child alleged to be an at-risk youth. The department shall, when requested, assist the parent in filing the petition. The petition shall be filed in the county where the petitioner resides. The petition shall set forth the name, age, and residence of the child and the names and residence of the child's parents and shall allege that:

  • The child is an at-risk youth defined as a person under 18 years of age.
  • Who is absent from the home at least 72 consecutive hours without parental consent. 
  • Is beyond parental control such that the child endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person.
  • Has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to substance abuse.
  • The petitioner has the right to legal custody of the child.
  • Court intervention and supervision are necessary to assist the parent to maintain the care, custody, and control of the child.
  • Alternatives to court intervention have been attempted or there is good cause why such alternatives have not been attempted.

The juvenile court will not accept the filing of an at-risk youth petition by the parent, unless verification is provided that a family assessment has been completed by Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). To schedule a family assessment, contact DCFS at 1-800-557-9671.

When a proper at-risk youth petition is filed by a parent, the juvenile court shall schedule a fact-finding hearing; if the at-risk youth petition is established, the matter goes on to disposition. 

At the dispositional hearing regarding an adjudicated at-risk youth the court:

  • Shall consider the recommendations of the parties and the recommendations of any dispositional plan submitted by DCFS. 
  • May enter a dispositional order that will assist the parent in maintaining the care, custody, and control of the child and assist the family to resolve family conflicts or problems.
  • May set conditions of supervision for the child that include:
    • Regular school attendance.
    • Counseling.
    • Participation in a substance abuse or mental health outpatient treatment program.
    • Reporting on a regular basis to the department or any other designated person or agency.
  • May order the parent to participate in counseling services or any other services for the child requiring parental participation.
  • May order the department to monitor compliance with the dispositional order, assist in coordinating the provision of court ordered services, and submit reports for subsequent review hearings regarding the status of the case. 
  • Shall not include in the order or condition of supervision, involuntary commitment of a child for substance abuse or mental health treatment.

A review hearing is held 30 days after disposition. If the child is found to be in contempt for violation of the court order established at disposition, s/he may receive a sanction from the court. 

The petition expires 6 months after the 30-day review; however, a motion for dismissal may be filed at any point. The parent may request dismissal of an at-risk youth proceeding or out-of-home placement at any time. Upon such a request, the court shall dismiss the matter and cease supervision for the child unless:

  • A contempt action is pending in the case.
  • A petition has been filed and a hearing has not yet been held, or
  • An order has been entered and the court retains jurisdiction under that subsection. 
Court supervision of the child may not be continued past 180 days from the day the review hearing commenced unless the court finds, and the parent agrees, that there are compelling reasons for an extension of the supervision. Any extension shall not exceed 90 days.