skip to main content

Prosecuting Attorney's Office

Daniel T. Satterberg

King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office
King County Courthouse, Room W554
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104-2362
(206) 296-9000


Visit the Becca Task Force Website


The Washington State Becca Laws include Truancy, At-Risk Youth, and Children in Need of Services.


Washington State Truancy Laws are intended to curb attendance issues before they become habitual. The law requires students to attend school, and if a student does not attend school, school districts to take action to address the student's truancy.

One or Two Unexcused Absences
After a single unexcused absence, the school district is required to contact parents. After a second unexcused absence, the school is required to schedule a conference with the parent and student to discuss solutions to the truancy.

Five Unexcused Absences
If a student has five unexcused absences in a month, the school may file a petition with the Superior Court; enter into a written truancy agreement with the family; refer the family to a "community truancy board" if one exists; or take other reasonable action. A community truancy board is comprised of citizen volunteers who help to resolve individual truancy cases.

Seven and Ten Unexcused Absences
Court action is required when a student reaches seven unexcused absences in a month or ten in a year. The truancy law requires that school districts file a petition in Superior Court against the student, parent, or both. After a petition is filed, several things may happen with a student case. Depending on the circumstances of each individual case, a student's petition may not be immediately heard by the Court.

Bellevue School District v. E.S.

Washington State Supreme Court Oral Arguments (external link)

FAMILY RECONCILIATION ACT (At-Risk Youth and Children in Need of Services)(external link)

Washington State's At-Risk Youth and Children in Need of Services Laws are intended to provide services and assistance for parents and children who are in conflict and to protect children through the preservation of families and the provision of assessment, treatment, and placement services.

At-Risk Youth (ARY)
An ARY petition is a request from a child's parent or legal guardian to the juvenile court to help in maintaining the care, custody, and control of the child. ARY petitions can be filed for youth who are under the age of 18 and

  • (1) are absent from home for at least 72 consecutive hours without parental consent;

  • (2) are beyond parental control to the extent that his/her behavior threatens the health, safety or welfare of the child or any other person; or

  • (3) have a drug or alcohol abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges relating to the substance abuse.

Child in Need of Services (CHINS)
The purpose of CHINS petitions is to obtain a court order mandating placement of the child in a residence other than the home of his/her parent because: a serious conflict exists between the parent and child.  The placement is temporary, and the goal is reunification. This action is taken when the conflict in the home cannot be resolved and reasonable efforts have been made to prevent removal of the child from the parental home. CHINS petitions may be filed by a child under 18, parent/legal guardian, or DSHS for any child under the age of 18 who meets at least one of the following three requirements:

  • (1) is beyond parental control such that the child's behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or other person;

  • (2) has been reported to law enforcement as absent without consent for at least 24 consecutive hours from the parent's home, a crisis residential center, an out-of-home placement, or a court-ordered placement on two or more separate occasions; and has exhibited a serious substance abuse problem or has exhibited behaviors that create a serious risk of harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or

  • (3) is in need of necessary services, including food, shelter health care, clothing, educational, or services designed to maintain or reunite the family and lacks access to or has declined to utilize these services, and 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.

Contact us: Washington State Becca Task Force