Ferry County Child Advocate Program

A Child Advocate is a trained volunteer appointed by the court to represent the best interest of a child found to be dependent.  By Washington State law, Child Advocate programs are authorized and established by the Superior Court to manage all aspects of  the volunteer child advocate representation including recruitment, screening, training, supervision, assignment and discharge of volunteers.

Under Washington State law, the Child Advocate’s duties are:
•    to represent and be an advocate for the best interest of the child, 
•    to collect relevant information about the child’s situation,
•    to monitor all court orders for compliance, 
•    to bring to the court’s attention any change in circumstances that may require a modification of the court’s order, 
•    to report information to the court concerning the legal status of a child’s membership in any Indian tribe or band.  

The Child Advocate is considered an officer of the court for the purpose of immunity from civil liability. The Child Advocate is a party to the proceedings as a physical and actual symbol of the child’s best interest. As a party, the Child Advocate is entitled to present evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and be present at all hearings.  In addition, the Child Advocate receives copies of all documents filed with the court by any party, receives notices of all hearings, and signs court orders before they are presented to the judicial officer.

Schools, divisions or departments of the state, health care providers, psychologists, psychiatrists, law enforcement departments, mental health clinics and certain other agencies are authorized by law to provide data from their records to the Child Advocate upon the presentation of the order appointing a Child Advocate. This information is critical for the preparation of court reports which help determine outcomes which are in the best interest of the child.  

A Child Advocate advocates for the child and ONLY the child.

All children deserve a safe and permanent home. Child Advocates play a critical role in ensuring that abused and neglected children in state care have this basic need met.

In Washington State each year, there are approximately 15,000 children, from infants to teenagers, who have suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse or neglect so severe they have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services.

The state places each child temporarily in foster care or with relatives while a lengthy series of court proceedings, administrative hearings and parental evaluations take place.  Social workers, attorneys, court officials and judges work to determine the child’s permanent placement: either back home, with relatives, in foster care or with adoptive parents. This is a lengthy process averaging 1 1/2 year or more.

Through it all, there is typically only one consistent person who:

•    Spends time each month with the child, building a one-on-one relationship with him/her,
•    Stays with the child throughout the entire case,
•    Meets with medical providers, school officials, counselors, mental health specialists and others to best understand the child’s needs, 
•    Ensures the child’s basic needs are met while under state care,
•    Communicates to the court and state the best interests of the child. 

This individual is the Child Advocate.  A professionally trained and supported volunteer, the Child Advocate provides a powerful voice for the child through many hearings and court proceedings, presents facts about the child’s unique needs and circumstances to the court, and advocates for the best possible placement and services. 

What kind of impact can you have on your community?

Ferry County Child Advocate Program offers an avenue to those people who are interested in becoming involved with the solution to child abuse and neglect.  We offer the training and the opportunity to become a voice for these children in our community.

If this describes you, volunteering as a Child Advocate promises to be rewarding, not only for those young lives you will touch… but for yourself as well. 

Please contact the Child Advocate Program Director , Valerie Schmoltze at 509-207-9284 or mailing address at 350 E. Delaware Ave #7 Republic, WA 99166.