Secretary Newsletter - December

December 7, 2021
Smiling mother gives son a piggy back ride in the forest as he reaches toward the viewer.

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Heading Into the 2022 Legislative Session

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) relentlessly focuses on better outcomes for youth and children. As we look toward the 2022 Legislative Session and the potential for investing Build Back Better funding in our state’s children, we are doubling down on our work to ensure more of Washington’s families thrive.

While the agency is fulfilling its commitments, there is no doubt that we are running at near capacity. So, in preparation for this short legislative session, the agency has submitted a limited number of supplemental budget requests intended to re-invigorate critical foundational services within our programs and to support our strategic priorities.  

Our requests include investments to support our core work:

  • Funds to fulfill our promise to tribal governments in how we apply the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Notice Reason to Know. This will support DCYF’s efforts to align with Supreme Court decisions and work to redress centuries of malpractice from federal and state actions. The aim: prevent the breakup of Indian families and provide culturally appropriate services to Indian children and families (case management, family support, evidence-based therapies, training, IT, etc.).
  • Funds to increase critical Family Time Rates, including service provider hourly rates, mileage reimbursement, and quality service delivery. Family Time ensures foster kids in DCYF’s care are visiting with their parents, guardians, and family members, which is crucial to maintaining parent-child relationships and safe reunification. Funding this recommendation will positively impact children and families that participate in Family Time services.
  • Funds for rate increases for Combined In-Home Services (CIHS). CIHS delivers tailored services that increase parents' ability to safely parent their child, preventing the need for out-of-home placements and supporting timely reunification. Rate increases for providers will improve capacity and service availability.
  • Funds to increase rates and services to support youth with complex mental and behavioral support needs. This will focus critical resources on the agency’s Child Welfare division, including forging better connections with community-based partners. The support will not only help to stabilize youth, it provides rate increases for contracted service providers that should, in turn, increase service availability.
  • Funds to continue the Kinship Caregiver Engagement Unit pilot and implement it statewide. This is necessary to help the agency prepare to successfully implement HB 1227 (2021) by supporting relatives and suitable other caregivers in completing the licensing process.

Read the full message from Secretary Hunter.

DCYF Joins Child Welfare Leaders Around the Country to Form National Partnership for Child Safety

In an effort to improve child safety and realign child welfare toward a more preventative child and family well-being system, DCYF has joined child welfare leaders representing 26 state, county, and tribal child and family serving agencies to form the National Partnership for Child Safety (NPCS). 

The mission of NPCS is to improve child safety and prevent child maltreatment and fatalities by strengthening families and promoting innovations in child protection. Supported by Casey Family Programs, NPCS is a quality improvement collaborative formed to further key recommendations and findings of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, which highlighted the importance and impact of safety science and data sharing to system change and reform.

“Just as transportation industries apply safety science as a tool to better understand and prevent injury and fatalities, child welfare leaders are dedicated to working collaboratively to develop approaches and share information that will help prevent child abuse and fatalities and support more families in keeping children safe and thriving in their own homes,” said Jodi Hill-Lilly, executive committee co-chair of the NPCS.

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DBT & Suicide Prevention in Juvenile Rehabilitation

Suicide prevention is a top priority in Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR).

“Many of our first-time residents arrive feeling terrified of what they will experience while returning residents arrive feeling hopeless that they are with us again,” said DCYF Clinical Training Consultant Beth Rogers. “In either case, residents can become suicidal and begin to see ending their life as a way of ending their pain and their family’s suffering.”

JR is committed to helping these youth reduce their suicidal ideation while increasing their hope for their future. 

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