In 1995, following the tragic death of Rebecca Hedman, the Washington State Legislature passed the Becca Bill, a set of laws aimed at addressing status offenses, including truancy, at-risk youth, and children in need of services. State Becca laws and appropriations keep at-risk kids from falling through the cracks.
Each school year, more than 40,000 students in Washington State have 10 or more unexcused absences. Besides missing out on an education, these kids are labeled as truants and are on their way to becoming dropouts.
The Washington State Compulsory Attendance and Admissions Laws require youth, ages eight to 18, to attend school and schools to monitor and facilitate attendance, including intervening when a student is absent. Schools are required to file a truancy petition with the Juvenile Court when the student has seven unexcused absences in a month or 10 in a school year.
On average, 15,000 truancy petitions are now filed annually—representing only a third of kids with chronic absenteeism in Washington State.
Once a truancy petition is filed, the court works with schools, youth and parents through formal court processing or, more recently, through community-based alternatives to address the issues affecting a student’s attendance before attendance becomes a major problem and the student’s future is jeopardized.
To access the State’s truancy laws, known as the Washington State Compulsory Attendance and Admissions Laws, click here.
The Washington State Family Reconciliation Act provides a legal process for parents of at-risk youth, children in need of services, and families in conflict to request and receive assistance from the juvenile courts in resolving conflicts, accessing critical services, and keeping families intact.
Over 2,000 At-Risk Youth and Children in Need of Services petitions are filed annually in Washington State.
Once an At-Risk Youth or Child in Need of Services petition is filed, the court works with youth and parents through the formal court process and case management services to help resolve conflicts. If necessary, the juvenile courts can order children and parents to attend counseling, classes and undergo other measures to reduce conflict and reunite the family.
To access the State’s ARY/CHINS laws, known as the Family Reconciliation Act, click here.