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It’s time for Change…Children can’t wait!

Fostering Change WA urges the Legislature to enact law that achieves timely permanency for children in out-of-home care, considering the long-term effects of additional trauma caused by extended timelines.

As foster parents in Washington State, we believe that it is critical for all stakeholders to understand the need for a child-centric, trauma-informed foster care system. How we support and protect foster children has lifelong consequences to both individuals and our society as a whole.


2019 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

••• update ON 1/19/19 •••

All change takes time, and often it takes a team of people from various perspectives and backgrounds to collaborate and rally behind the cause. That team needs to understand and respect each others roles and positions to move change along. After long conversations with many child welfare stakeholders in Washington and internal soul searching, we've decided to update our legislative agenda to create a foundation of partnership as we work to reach our goal- a child-centric system. 

You will notice that we removed the expansion of the foster home definition. We know that this is something most of you have specifically spoken out in support oF and the decision to make this change was not easy. It came down to respecting all parties, prioritizing the agenda items and pushing forward the pieces that will positively affect the most kids.

#1) We enhanced the Relative Finders Unit piece

#2) and better outlined the timeline for obtaining a recommendation from a mental health professional

These two things protect children in care from additional trauma.

Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to advocate for a child-centric system! Keep up to date by signing up for our newsletter Here.

#1 Permanency

Fully fund the Relative Search Unit TO PRIORITIZE KIN PLACEMENT

  • Relative Search Unit will complete a kin search within the first six months of dependency. They will also secure kin placement within the first 12 months of dependency in order to greatly reduce unnecessary additional trauma of moving placements after stabilizing in a foster home.

  • If the confirmed kin placement can not be a placement within 12 months, a transition and visitation plan will be established with a clear timeline.

  • The Relative Search Unit has been operating with scarce human resources resulting in extended time in care for children seeking permanency.

#2 Attachment

Include MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER CONSIDERATIONS when making permanency decisions

  • In accordance to the timelines outlined in the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 2008, children that have been in care 15 out of the past 22 months will receive a formal bonding assessment and/or recommendation from a mental health professional to greatly influence the permanency plan, prioritize the child’s best interest, and be presented during all permanency review hearings moving forward.

  • This requires an amendment to RCW 13.34.130(3) and RCW 13.34.065(5)(c) to include a formal bonding assessment and/or recommendation from a mental health professional in permanency planning.

  • Birth parents and second degree relatives will remain primary permanent placement options.

#3 Systemize Trauma Informed Care

All professionals and caregivers will receive mandatory evidenced-based, trauma-informed training that is derived from current research

  • All caregivers and professionals, including Judges/Commissioners, attorneys, CASA’s, DCYF staff, CPA staff, and all other contractors will receive Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) trainings.

  • Parent-child visitation shall be therapeutic in nature, recommendations by that child’s primary care or mental health provider will be taken into consideration.

  • For youth in which ongoing parent-child visitation is not recommended to occur initially, trauma-informed individual and family counseling should be made readily available.

#4 Evidence Based Research

Bring the Washington State Child Welfare system in-line with evidence-based practices

  • The Department of Children Youth and Families, along with State Representatives and child welfare partners, will form a task force dedicated to compiling data from experts and will research nationwide approaches to child welfare in order to create scientific and evidence based policies that are rooted in attachment theory, child resilience, and are centered on a child’s well-being.