Final Strategic and Racial Equity Plan Now Available
Thanks to active input from staff, stakeholders, tribes, and community members, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families' (DCYF) Strategic and Racial Equity Plan is finalized and available on the agency website. As DCYF pivots to implementing the plan, the agency is forming leadership-level accountability groups. The accountability groups will establish targets and metrics for monitoring and publicly reporting progress on the agency's six priorities:
- Eliminate racial disproportionalities and advance racial equity
- Safely reduce the number/rate of children and youth in out-of-home care
- Create successful transitions to adulthood for youth and young adults in our care
- Create a high-quality integrated B-8 system
- Improve quality and intention of our practice
- Improve quality and availability of provider services
You can read more about the monitoring plan and outcome indicators here.
There is also strong alignment between the Legislature and the agency’s priorities. These include creating successful transitions to adulthood with a $9.5 million investment to implement community transition services, safely reducing the number of children and youth in out-of-home care with the passing of HB 1227, and much more.
An incredible amount of work went into the process of creating this plan. Thanks to your help with developing this plan, DCYF has a strategic vision to align and integrate the agency's work and ensure Washington’s children grow up safe and healthy.
Washington Becomes First in the Nation to License Outdoor, Nature-Based Child Care
Washington is now the first in the nation to permanently license outdoor, nature-based child care for preschool and school-age children under a new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Senate Bill 5151 authorizes DCYF to license outdoor, nature-based child care programs that enroll preschool or school-age children, teach a nature-based curriculum, and provide daily nature-based learning experiences for at least half of the day. Licensure allows outdoor, nature-based child care programs to receive subsidy payment through Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) for income-eligible families, and to participate in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).
In 2017, DCYF launched a four-year Outdoor Preschool Pilot project to license outdoor, nature-based early learning and child care programs. As a result, DCYF set a precedent as the first in the nation to successfully develop state licensing requirements and processes to expand access to safe, high-quality child care and education outdoors.
Caregiver Recruitment and Retention Program Announces Campaign
Over the past 18 months, DCYF has made significant changes to how the agency recruits and retain licensed foster parents and kinship caregivers. Today, DCYF is proud to announce a new campaign: Be the Way Home.
When looking at recruitment messaging, it needed to reinforce that permanency comes in various forms, and caregivers are part of that journey. Be the Way Home recognizes that caregivers provide an actual home for children in need while at the same time honoring that caregivers are instrumental in the outcomes for children in out-of-home care. Caregivers are at the heart of helping children find their way home, wherever that may end up being.
Video Spotlight: Camp to Belong
June is Reunification Month and Camp to Belong Washington is dedicated to reuniting siblings separated by foster care, adoption, or kinship care. The five-day summer camp, held at Miracle Ranch in Port Orchard, features activities specially designed to help siblings reconnect and strengthen their bonds. Since it began in 2009, more than 1,000 brothers and sisters have been reunited at the camp.