Months ago we shared the report from Washington State's Blue Ribbon Commission recommending the creation of a new state agency consolidating child welfare, early learning, and juvenile justice. The report recommends many changes in both internal organization and delivery of services to children and families. Many of these recommendations are informed by ACE science - both emerging and established best practices in child welfare, early learning and work with children and families.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation creating the new Department of Children, Youth and Families on Thursday July 6th, 2017.
Children and families caught in the state’s beleaguered child welfare system have significant good news to celebrate this week as the state, with millions of extra dollars just appropriated by legislators, launches a major restructuring of the system.
Lawmakers this year passed a half-dozen new laws and millions in funding to reform child welfare programs, support foster parents better, lower social worker caseloads, and help foster youth get drivers licenses and access to lawyers, among other efforts.
The most far-reaching of these bills, HB 1661, consolidates child protection, early learning and juvenile justice programs under a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. The new, more prevention-focused agency aims to help families before children are removed due to neglect or abuse, and before youth get into trouble with the law. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support on June 30 as the Legislature wound down most of its major work.
Follow here to read the whole Crosscut article, where you can also link to a series of investigative reports highlighting some of the challenges of Washington's child welfare system this new legislation hopes to address. The article also covers additional legislation supporting foster parents and foster youth, including many positive outcomes for kids achieving timely permanency and a budget supporting work with children and families.