Washington State Plan to Dismantle Poverty

January 27, 2021

Washington State recently published a 10-Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty. As a lead agency tasked with improving outcomes for all Washington children, youth, and families, we see ourselves closely aligned with the work of the state’s plan to dismantle poverty.

DCYF is an agency focused on the safety and well-being of children, youth, and families and has a critical responsibility to understand the many factors that contribute to families flourishing. We know that poverty causes negative outcomes for children, adults, and families and costs the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion annually.

DCYF is working to craft our first ever Integrated Strategic and Racial Equity Plan in order to integrate, focus, and streamline practices as a newly formed agency.

Our strategic plan will be grounded in the agency's mission, vision, values, and legislative purpose. The draft plan helps our agency focus on how we serve children, youth, families, and our communities as one entity. This framework helps to build on existing funding and services to strengthen our ability to serve families as well as to disrupt racial inequity and disproportionality in our systems.

There is more work ahead for us to accomplish the priorities set out in the draft plan. The process to gather feedback on the draft will continue over the next four months with plenty of opportunity for engagement with staff and stakeholders.

Here are the ways we plan to dismantle poverty through our agency’s work:

Poverty Reduction Workgroup Strategies DCYF Strategic Plan Strategies
1. Undo Structural Racism
Understand structural racism and historical trauma and take action to undo how they manifest in state policy, program, and practice.
  • require state entities to collaborate with the Office of Equity to develop trainings on historical trauma, institutional racism, and implicit bias
  • require state entities to collaborate with the Office of Equity to develop data, processes, and tools that prioritize equity

Eliminate Racial Disproportionalities and Advance Racial Equity

  • Adopt racial equity and social justice as core agency values
  • Build capacity for liberatory, human-centered, and healing-centered design across DCYF
  • Ensure assessments and programs are equitable across DCYF
2. Balance Power
Make equal space in decision-making for people and communities most affected by poverty and inequality.
  • provide resources to the Office of Equity for a collaboration with Indigenous, Black, and Brown leaders and organizations to develop a formal process for truth and reconciliation
  • Establish a state entity to elevate the expertise and influence of people disproportionately affected by poverty and inequality in the implementation of the 10-year Plan
  • Invest state resources to increase ownership capacity in communities most affected by poverty
  • Fund meaningful access to legal assistance and representation for children, adults, and families disproportionately affected by poverty and racially biased systems
  • Make high-speed, broadband internet universally available.
  • Center experiences of BIPOC children, youth, and families

3. Increase Economic Opportunity
Target equitable income growth and wealth- building among people with low incomes.

  • Implement Washington Kids for Washington Jobs recommendations, but bolster with more intentional strategies to achieve equity
  • Enforce stronger salary/wage transparency and fair labor practices among employers to ensure pay equity
  • Expand access to no- or low-cost financial resources and education that empower, rather than prey upon, people experiencing poverty
  • Enact changes to the state tax system that lower the effective tax rate for low-income households
  • Work in partnership with local labor organizations and the government to modernize labor laws and the rights of workers
  • Implement the Child Care Collaborative Taskforce strategies and recommendations to increase the availability of affordable, high quality early care and education
  • Increase and preserve affordable housing for renters and owners
  • Enact changes to the tax system that support equitable economic growth

4. Ensure Foundational Well-Being
Strengthen health supports across the life span to promote the intergenerational well-being of families.

  • Strengthen the Apple Health program by creating a state-funded assistance benefit
  • Ensure funding and access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health care and support services before, during, and after pregnancy
  • Ensure access to free and low-cost contraceptive options and family planning counseling, including long-term acting reversible contraceptives (LARCS) for people who want it
  • Increase funding to support the availability of culturally diverse, nutritious foods in assistance programs like Women, Infants, and Children, the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
  • Develop, implement and evaluate health and human service programs to better meet the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ children, adults, and families
  • Increase Medicaid funds for supported, in-home care and long-term services

Create High-Quality Integrated B-8 System

  • Coordinate integration of multiple pre-k models
  • Support recovery of child care business
  • Expand access to infant/toddler supports and services
  • Expand access to affordable high-quality child care and developmental services

5. Prioritize Urgent Needs
Prioritize the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or addiction.

  • Provide greater resources for consistent and timely community-led data collection and storytelling to deepen our understanding of the disproportionate impact of homelessness, violence, mental illness, and/or addiction on historically underserved Washingtonians
  • Adopt the “housing first” approach as the foundation to health and human service delivery and remove discriminatory barriers
  • Increase state and local rental assistance and diversion programs that prevent children, youth, adults, and families from becoming homelessness
  • Increase the number of emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing options
  • Develop stronger public-private partnerships to increase opportunities for supported education, job training, and employment
  • Create a Medical-Financial Partnership model for Washington state
  • Improve access to behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery support services
  • Improve integration of behavioral health treatment in early learning settings and K-12
  • Require state entities to collaborate with civil legal aid providers and community-led programs to increase comprehensive support for children, adults, and families experiencing homelessness, violence, or a behavioral health issue.

6. Build a Holistic Continuum of Care
Build an integrated human service continuum of care that addresses the holistic needs of children, adults, and families.

  • Develop a shared set of outcomes for individual, child, and family well-being, in partnership with communities most affected by structural racism and poverty that each agency is collectively held accountable to achieve
  • Update “Standard of Need,” assistance levels, and eligibility to reflect the real costs of what it takes for individuals and families to make ends meet
  • Develop a universal intake, data sharing, and technology platform so that we can share essential information on people across agencies, systems, and sectors
  • Increase unconditional cash assistance
  • Smooth on-ramps and off-ramps for programs
  • Revamp policies, programs, and practices to inspire hope and build resilience

Improve Quality and Availability of Provider Services

  • Agencywide implementation of performance-based contracting
  • Expand access to effective and needed services
  • Enhance service matching at individual and population levels
  • Identify opportunities to integrate contracts and management

7. Decriminalize Poverty
Decriminalize poverty and reduce reliance on the child welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice systems.

  • Shift resources away from child welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice toward comprehensive social, economic, and health supports for children, adults, and families
  • Connect child-welfare and justice-related families to legal resources and civil legal assistance to mitigate further negative consequences of criminalization
  • Keep families together as much as possible, when safe and appropriate
  • Provide robust, trauma-informed case management to children, adults, and families involved in child welfare, juvenile, and criminal justice systems
  • Expand education, job training, and employment opportunities for children and adults while they are in the care of the juvenile and criminal justice systems
  • Eliminate Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs)
  • Provide adequate funding to increase the availability of safe, culturally responsive foster homes and permanent living options for children and youth involved with the child welfare system
  • Connect children, adults, and families to public assistance and support services at least three months before they exit a system
  • Eliminate housing, education, and employment barriers, and invest in stronger, better-coordinated exit and re-entry policies, services, and programs
  • Expand and strengthen post-release family and peer support services

Safely Reduce the Number/Rate of Children in Out-of-Home Care by Half

  • Implement and expand effective secondary prevention
  • Safely reduce placement rates
  • Reduce length of stay
  • Improve service availability

8. Prepare for the Future of Work
Ensure a just transition to the future of work.

  • Adopt the recommendations detailed in the FOW Taskforce report, and bolster it with more specific, intentional strategies to achieve equity for workers of color, LGBTQIA+, women, immigrants and refugees, and rural Washingtonians
  • Create tax structures for employers that offer full-time employment with living wages and robust benefit packages
  • Protect Washingtonians from economic downturns by developing an economic “trigger” to provide countercyclical funding in human services, education, and economic and workforce development
  • Develop and pilot a portable benefits model and a guaranteed basic income program

Create Successful Transitions into Adulthood for Youth and Young Adults in Our Care

  • Enhance stability and quality of adult relationships
  • Strengthen therapeutic environments
  • Strengthen partnerships to enhance availability of services/supports needed by young people