Department of Children, Youth, and Families
Who We Are
DCYF is a cabinet-level agency focused on the well-being of children. Our vision is to ensure that "Washington state’s children and youth grow up safe and healthy—thriving physically, emotionally and academically, nurtured by family and community."
Our guiding principles:
- A relentless focus on outcomes for children;
- A commitment to collaboration and transparency;
- A commitment to using data to inform and evaluate reforms, leveraging and aligning existing services with desired child outcomes;
- A focus on supporting staff as they contribute to the agency’s goals and outcomes.
What We Do
DCYF is the lead agency for state-funded services that support children and families to build resilience and health, and to improve educational outcomes. We accomplish this by partnering with state and local agencies, tribes and other organizations in communities across the state of Washington. Our focus is to support children and families at their most vulnerable points, giving them the tools they need to succeed.
Brain science tells us that laying a strong foundation, early in life, critically impacts healthy development. The science also tells us that addressing trauma, especially at critical transition points in the lives of youth, helps ensure successful transition into adulthood. To truly give all children the great start in school and life they deserve, DCYF was created to be a comprehensive agency exclusively dedicated to the social, emotional and physical well-being of children, youth and families — an agency that prioritizes early learning, prevention and early intervention at critical points along the age continuum from birth through adolescence.
DCYF is the state’s newest agency. It oversees several services previously offered through the state Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Early Learning. These include all programs from the Children’s Administration in DSHS such as Child Protective Services’ investigations and Family Assessment Response, licensed foster care, and adoption support. Also included are all DEL services, such as the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for preschoolers, Working Connections Child Care, and Home Visiting.
Starting in July 2019, DCYF also began administering programs offered by the Juvenile Rehabilitation division and the Office of Juvenile Justice in DSHS. Those programs include juvenile rehabilitation institutions, community facilities and parole services.
Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1661 on July 6, 2017, creating DCYF. The new agency restructures how the state serves at-risk children and youth, with the goal of producing better outcomes in all Washington communities. Its creation follows the suggestions of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families convened by the governor in February 2016 to recommend a state system that focuses more clearly on preventing harm to children and youth.