The 2021 Legislative Session resulted in strong investments and positive policy changes for children, youth, and families across Washington state. Legislators displayed an immense amount of trust in the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to implement major initiatives and distribute new resources on ambitious timelines.
Both pieces of DCYF’s request legislation passed. HB 1186 will provide $11.2 million to establish a community transition services program for youth in Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR), while SB 5151 makes Washington the first state in the nation to license outdoor, nature-based early learning.
To improve outcomes for children, youth, and families, DCYF received investments in nearly every corner of the agency, including:
- A $5.6 million behavioral health services package to hire JR staff to help youth with substance use disorders and support dialectical behavioral therapy.
- $11.5 million for 119 caseworkers and supporting staff to reduce caseload ratios across the biennium.
- Passage of HB 1194 and HB 1227 to strengthen DCYF practices and improve experiences for families involved in or that may become involved in the child welfare system.
- $29.8 million to expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and add new slots.
- Passage of the Fair Start Act, which will increase investments in early learning services and expand access to programs and services for families.
“These investments are a testament to our agency’s ongoing work and commitment to the communities we serve,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter. “This tells us the Legislature, along with community partners and stakeholders, have observed our progress and trust us to protect children and strengthen families so they flourish.”
View slides from DCYF's 2021 Legislative Session Wrap-Up presentation for a closer look at these highlights and more.