In re Welfare of Sumey

In In re Welfare of Sumey, 94 Wn.2d 757, 762-63, 621 P.2d 108 (1980), the Court specifically noted the constitutional right of parents to raise and nurture their children; however, even that powerfully instinctive and constitutional right must yield to the State's duty to protect our children's well-being. The Court said: The parents' constitutional rights, however, do not afford an absolute protection against State interference with the family relationship. Although "historically, the natural parent's right to custody of a child . . . was considered to be absolute, barring a showing of unfitness . . . growing concern for the welfare of the child and the disappearance of the concept of the child as property has led to a gradual modification in judicial attitude." In re Becker, 87 Wn.2d 470, 477, 553 P.2d 1339 (1976). It is now well established that when parental actions or decisions seriously conflict with the physical or mental health of the child, the State has a parens patriae right and responsibility to intervene to protect the child. Sumey, 94 Wn.2d at 762.