A Message from DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

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DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

Sept. 8, 2021 Issue

Recent News

DCYF Partner Profile: ANEW

DCYF Partners to Build Meaningful Careers for Youth

Echo Glen Garden Program Provides Nourishing Education

Phi Theta Kappa Welcomes Green Hill Youth

September is School Attendance Awareness Month

Temporary COVID-19 Funds for Independent Living Youth

Recent Reports

Dual License Pilot Project Status Update

Upcoming Events 

LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee Meeting: Thursday, Sept. 9, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Parent Advisory Group Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

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

Small child with caregiver in child care setting.

Fair Start for Kids Act Update

Hello everyone, and happy September.

This month, I’m excited to provide an update about the work underway at the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to implement the Fair Start for Kids Act.

While we are seeing job gains in Washington State, families are still facing barriers to bettering their children's livelihoods and educational outcomes. The choice for some Washington parents is between work that pays not quite enough for high-quality child care or investing in child care that depletes much of what’s gained from employment.  

Access to affordable, high-quality care for children is a challenge that limits the ability of parents, guardians, and caregivers – disproportionately women – to make a living. 

High-quality child care provides children with high-quality early learning experiences that help them develop the skills they need to be successful in school and beyond. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, DCYF will initiate changes that allow up to an additional 6,000 families in our state to afford that care. We are implementing two child care policies provided under the Fair Start for Kids Act, which makes child care more accessible and affordable for all families in Washington State. 

These policy changes hold the potential to benefit thousands of children in Washington by increasing income eligibility for families accessing child care subsidies to 60% of the State Median Income (SMI) and decreasing family copayments based on a new copay scale. The changes in eligibility limits and copays are a recognition of Washington’s realities. This information is laid out on DCYF’s Working Connections Child Care webpage.

These changes provide the opportunity for more families with lower incomes to take a job that allows for increased hours to earn more, work more consistent schedules, grow professionally, or set aside more money to meet family needs without worrying about losing child care benefits.

The first measure is a dramatic decrease in copays – decreasing the current rate of up to 20% of a family’s monthly income to no more than 7%. This reduces the benefits cliff and empowers Washington parents with more options for education and pursuit of better jobs.

Second, we address eligibility challenges. Today, child care subsidy eligibility is limited to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Moving the measure of eligibility to 60% of State Median Income as of Oct. 1 recognizes the higher average income and costs of living in Washington and provides more people with benefits. For example, a family of four with a current monthly income limit of $4,416 will be able to earn up to $5,088 on Oct. 1 and still pay the same as before. This is a 15% increase in allowable income limits, which puts more money in the pockets of families.  

Better outcomes for families and more resources for children’s education are the reasons why key partners like MomsRising and Child Care Aware of Washington consistently support these measures.

DCYF expects up to 2,100 additional families will access child care subsidies in the next 12 months by increasing the family income limits. We also expect 3,900 additional families will access high-quality child care by decreasing family copay requirements, thus creating more affordable access.

We recognize that when child care economics do not work, neither can parents. Access to high-quality child care and early learning opportunities are critical to a child’s success in school and life.

These policy changes – driven by the Fair Start for Kids Act – are investments that support economic recovery, meet the educational aspirations of children and parents, and strengthen families so they flourish.

I am proud of Washington for making choices to put children and families first.

Stay updated on our progress for implementing this legislation by bookmarking DCYF’s Fair Start for Kids Act webpage.

A family smiles together for a selfie.

September is Kinship Care Month

Every year in September, we celebrate National Kinship Care Month. Kinship care refers to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adult siblings, and even family friends.

Nearly half the children placed in out-of-home care by DCYF are placed with a relative or person known to the child or family. 

As a result of their commitment, the home provided for many of these children become their “forever” home.

In honor of National Kinship Care Month, we thank all kinship caregivers for their ongoing commitment to providing a safe and loving home to children in out-of-home care.

Thank you!

Two women hugging.

Child Welfare Worker Appreciation Week

For the last five years, the National Child Welfare Workforce Institution (NCWWI) and the Children's Bureau have celebrated Child Welfare Workforce Development Month during September.

For child welfare programs, it's a time to focus on how to better support and recognize the workforce. For child welfare professionals, it's an opportunity to get reconnected with the reason they got into the field.

As part of that celebration, DCYF recognizes our child welfare staff during Child Welfare Worker Appreciation Week held Sept. 13-17. We appreciate all that they do for the families we serve. Their commitment, passion, and compassion are not overlooked. 

Child Welfare Worker Shout Out from Adoptive Parents

"We would like to take a moment and recognize Angie Andrew for everything she has done. In addition to fulfilling her regular duties with excellence, she always goes above and beyond. She takes the time to get to know the individual needs of each child on her caseload and proactively researches resources and programs to support them. In addition, she is almost always available to provide guidance, support, or be a sounding board to help resolve difficult situations. Without her support, we wouldn't have been able to recently adopt three children from foster care."