A Message from DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

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DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter

Oct. 6, 2021 Issue

Recent News

CARES Project Funds Available for Foster Youth

Child Care Stabilization Data Dashboard is Now Available

Child-Specific Licensing 

DCYF Expert Stories: Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DCYF Partners With Yoga Behind Bars

Gov. Inslee Hears from DCYF on Behavioral Health

Green Hill Youth Wins National Talent Competition

Naselle Youth Camp Receives PbS Award

Recent Reports

Early ECEAP Pilot Project

Tribal ECEAP Pathway Recommendations

Upcoming Events 

Foster Parent Rights and Responsibilities Document Review Workgroup (Meeting 1): Thursday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Community Transition Services (CTS) Stakeholder Group Meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Child Care Stabilization Grant Update Webinar (English): Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Child Care Stabilization Grant Update Webinar (Spanish): Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Child Care Stabilization Grant Update Webinar (Somali): Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Outdoor Nature-Based Advisory Group Meeting: Monday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 3 p.m.

CTS Stakeholder Group Meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Child Care Center Immunization Informational Webinar (English): Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Child Care Center Immunization Informational Webinar (Spanish): Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice Quarterly Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Foster Parent Rights and Responsibilities Document Review Workgroup (Meeting 2): Thursday, Oct. 28, from 1 to 3 p.m.

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

Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) Changes

Hello Everyone,

We are three years past our creation moment as an agency. We have accomplished a lot, including working successfully during a worldwide pandemic, striving to keep our facilities safer than many places in the nation while maintaining a laser focus on our mission to help children, youth, and families thrive while we also work to keep them safe.

We are building on our child care infrastructure, we are focusing on a new service orientation, we are working to shift to community approaches to Juvenile Rehabilitation, emphasizing prevention, and we are implementing ambitious new legislation like the Fair Start for Kids Act and the Keeping Families Together Act. In all, despite challenges, we are creating progress in our efforts to meet the needs of children, youth, and families.

All of this has meant change. We have most definitely proven ourselves as capable and ready for adaptation and change, but we are not done. With a mission like ours, we cannot accept complacency in our continuing response to the needs of Washington’s youth and families. We will need to be nimbler and more decisive, and able to make decisions lower down in our organization to be successful in our ever-changing environment.

A few weeks ago, I introduced a shift in DCYF's leadership structure to our staff as part of our work to integrate and streamline practices and center our work around our Strategic and Racial Equity Plan. Today, I want to share more details about the new teams that will support families in ways that keep them out of penetrating deeper into our system and help them improve their quality of life.

Prevention and Client Services

The new Prevention and Client Services team, headed by Assistant Secretary Steve Grilli, combines existing program groups: Adolescent Services, Home Visiting, Strengthening Families, and most of Child Welfare Programs.

We believe that helping families stay together is the most important thing we can do to make the world a better place. Our research-based service array will need to expand to serve the entire state and become consistently culturally competent. We want to use programs in home visiting like Nurse-Family Partnerships to help families before they come to Child Protective Services, not after. We want to divert families from formal court involvement to community-based programs that have strong histories of effectiveness.

Once children, youth, and families become involved with either Child Welfare or Juvenile Rehabilitation, we want to work to reunite them as quickly as possible. Our vision for our field practice depends on community services being available and working well. We need an adequate supply of Behavioral Rehabilitation Services providers and a Family Time visitation service that ensures caseworkers don't have to drive for visits, taking them away from their social work.

Our work with adolescents can be particularly challenging as we help them navigate a complex world, often without strong support from home. Consistent availability of high-quality substance use disorder treatment, behavioral therapy, education, and housing resources is part of the new team’s mandate, which builds on the solid foundation of the Adolescent Program division and focuses on integration across the service continuum.

Getting our portfolio of services to work requires strong programs that integrate well with the rest of the agency.

Early Learning

The new Early Learning team is responsible for our mission to get every child in Washington ready for kindergarten. Combining related programs in one group allows a greater focus on providing integrated options for children and families. This team, headed by Assistant Secretary Nicole Rose, will bring together our child care work, quality improvement, professional development, subsidy programs, and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).

We have enormous opportunities in this area, including a historic expansion of our child care subsidies for families as a result of the Fair Start for Kids Act, the required expansion of ECEAP to cover about a third of all low-income or at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds, and the challenges of dealing with the post-pandemic economy and the critical need for child care.

Bringing these strong teams together will help us communicate clearly with families so they receive consistent and coordinated information on their options for child care and early learning. We also will be able to communicate more clearly with providers and ensure coordination in the practice and support they receive.

The top-level changes in this transition take effect right away. I know this message will reach people who share and advocate for DCYF’s vision that all Washington’s children and youth will grow up safe and healthy, nurtured by family and community. Thank you for all that you do for the families we serve.

Ross Hunter


Large group of multi-racial young adults.

Extended Foster Care Funding Extension

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Proclamation 21-02: Extended Eligibility for Foster Care Services in response to the Federal requirement that states must not exit young people from care beginning in March 2020. The Federal moratorium, which removed the age limits on receiving Extended Foster Care (EFC), expired Sept. 30, 2021. As a result, more than 320 youth were exited from care and stopped receiving any financial support through this program on Oct. 1.

In response, Gov. Inslee has authorized $299,113 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to support the youth who will be transitioning out of EFC. This additional financial support was not included in DCYF's budget and is needed to provide one-month transition funding for EFC young people. Our partners at Treehouse will distribute the funding directly to young people.

Staff are communicating with the young people on their caseload who exited care on Sept. 30, 2021, letting them know they can expect to receive payment from Treehouse in early November.

Caseworkers or young people with questions can reach out to Treehouse by emailing pandemicaid@treehouseforkids.org or calling 206-267-5158.

A small child reaching for a dandelion held by his mother.

Fair Start for Kids Act – DCYF Updates

The passage of the Fair Start for Kids Act in May provides DCYF with resources to stabilize child care, support providers in serving the children that come through their doors, and allows more families to access affordable, high-quality child care.

High-quality child care provides children with access to early learning experiences that help them develop the skills they need to be successful in school and beyond.

Read more about the exciting changes for families on the horizon.