When thinking about sexual assault advocacy and prevention work with youth, it is often helpful to consider your programming based on two different age groups, children (up to age 12) and teens (13-18). This age distinction is significant not only in terms of advocacy issues, but also with regard to confidentiality and consent to service issues.
Although Washington State law does not specifically address the age of consent for sexual assault advocacy services, there are other state statutes that support a minor's right to access the services they need without parental consent. Most community sexual assault programs in Washington allow minors 13 and older to consent to advocacy services without parental involvement. If your agency allows minors to consent to your services independently, then your agency's confidentiality policies would also apply to them directly. Familiarize yourself with your agency's current policies and procedures.
As a New Director...
- Have clear policies and procedures regarding the age of consent for services and confidentiality.
- Provide ongoing training for all staff on how to work with youth.
- Build partnerships in your community with youth service providers.