The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) is committed to Washington’s children and youth growing up safe, healthy, and thriving. Currently children of color are underrepresented in the percentage of children entering kindergarten with the skills they need to be successful. Children and youth of color enter and remain in the child welfare system at greater rates. Youth of color are also disproportionately represented as they enter and progress through the juvenile justice system.
Underlying systems, policies and practices are driving these disparate outcomes and experiences. DCYF will transform the way we operate to promote racial equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice, so each and every child, youth and family can thrive.
The Work So Far
Each of the originating agencies have been engaged in the foundational efforts necessary to make progress on our long term goals of impacting child and family outcomes. This has included building the will, skill and capacity of leaders and staff to lead for equity, diversity, and promote inclusion. Representatives from Children’s Administration, Department of Early Learning, the Office of Juvenile Justice and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration formed an Equity Workgroup, whose mission is to define how we bring our work together into an integrated strategy for DCYF.
DCYF can only be successful when we collaborate with children, youth, families, communities and tribes who are most impacted and often marginalized in defining our action plan. As we embark on that process, the following represent several initial priority strategies.
- Pay attention to data about outcomes for children, youth, and families consistently. Disaggregate data by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and geographic areas. Use both quantifiable data and individuals’ stories and experience to inform our actions and provide accountability.
- Staffing and leadership that reflect and are responsive to the communities we serve. Recruit, retain, promote and provide supports for people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas. Create a positive workplace climate to increase job satisfaction and effectiveness.
- Lead for racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. Provide training and resources for DCYF staff on taking an intersectional approach, which recognizes that people sit at the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender, and gender expression, class, and other ways of experiencing barriers and oppression. Training, coaching and support will also be provided on understanding how racism and other biases show up in our organizations and systems; applying a racial equity lens in our work; recognizing and mitigating implicit biases; and practicing cultural humility and responsiveness.
In the coming months, DCYF will invite communities to engage in defining our racial equity, diversity and inclusion strategies. We look forward to partnering with you!
Child Welfare: Dae Shogren
Early Learning & Family Support: Evette Jasper
Office of Juvenile Justice: Vazaskia Crockrell
Juvenile Rehabilitation: LaToya Holmes-Ware
*Note that Juvenile Rehabilitation and the Office of Juvenile Justice formally join DCYF in July 2019.