A Message from DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

February 2, 2021 Issue

Recent News

Celebrating Parent Recognition Month and Unsung Heroes

Child Welfare Housing Assistance Pilot Program

DCYF Provides Grants to Caregivers

Extended Foster Care Rent Assistance Update

Improving Stability for Youth Exiting Care

Permanency Found With Biological Father

Washington State Plan to Dismantle Poverty

Youth Graduate From Manufacturing Academy

Recent Reports

Kinship Care Oversight Committee Report

Referred and Diverted Youth Report

Upcoming Events 

Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) Meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

DCYF Strategic and Racial Equity Plan Webinar – Create Successful Transitions for Young People: Wednesday, Feb. 3 from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Kinship Care Oversight Committee Meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Provider Supports Subcommittee of ELAC Meeting: Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

LGBTQ+ Advisory Group Meeting: Thursday, Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Outdoor Preschool Advisory Group Meeting: Monday, Feb. 22 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Indian Policy on Early Learning (IPEL) Meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information or questions about these events, please contact DCYF Community Engagement.

Same-sex couple walk hand in hand with their child in a park.

SOGIE Federal Rules 

Right before the change in administration last month, the federal Health and Human Services agency repealed a rule that prohibited government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) or on religion.

The rule changes say that states can allow private agencies that use federal and state taxpayer dollars to discriminate against potential foster families based on a parent’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression or their religion. A state could allow an agency to serve only members of a single religion, or to not serve LGBTQ+ couples.

The rules would also allow states to let providers discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth by refusing them services or kicking them out of a homeless shelter, or to allow foster parents to kick out an LGBTQ+ child or youth.

Washington does not allow this kind of discrimination today, and won’t allow it in the future.

Read more.

Young child playing with colorful building blocks.

Click image to watch video.

Washington State’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program Helps Children and Families

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) oversees the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which is the state’s pre-kindergarten program that prepares children and families for success in school and life. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee designated ECEAP services as essential. As a result, these essential services have continued helping children and families throughout the pandemic.

ECEAP provides 3- and 4-year-old children from families furthest from opportunity with free early learning education to support the child’s development and learning. ECEAP also works closely with parents and families to support their child’s health and education and to meet family goals.

In this video, ECEAP Helps Children and Families, former ECEAP parent Corinne Vargas explains how ECEAP services benefited her and both of her sons.

Read more. 

Group of youth meeting with a facilitator.

Exceptional Placement Report and Recommendations

Last month, both Patrick Dowd from the Office of the Family and Children's Ombuds and I testified in a House committee about hotel stays. You can see our testimony here. The Ombuds has severely criticized DCYF for several years about this problem, which has grown during that time. He’s right, and the media are right for exposing the terrible experiences that the children involved have. 

In September, I asked the child welfare policy team to propose a solution by the end of 2020. Their report is available here.

The problem we face in solving it is complex. Part of the solution is our work – making practice changes – and we’re engaged with that. The key step is having additional placement capacity to care for children who face very severe challenges with their behavioral health, a developmental disability, a substance use disorder, or all three. The team also recommended some steps for the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) to take.

Read more. 

Young man sitting at desk reading legislation.

Click image to watch video.

JR to 25 and Reentry Supports

Passed in 2018, House Bill 6160 (also referred to as JR to 25) allows young people sentenced in adult court for crimes committed under age 18 to go to Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) until age 25. Before the bill, JR residents had to transfer to the Department of Corrections on their 21st birthday to serve the rest of their sentence. In this short video, a former JR resident shares his journey to help implement the bill and how its passing provided him the opportunity to transfer to a less restrictive community facility where he was able to find a job in the community and prepare for successful reentry.

“When I do get out… I already have job experience. I can put that on my resume. I have references. So when I go somewhere, [employers] recognize they can trust me with their business when they’re not there. They can put me in charge and they know I’m going to do the right thing,” said the former JR resident.

Watch the full story.