Social and Economic Policy
Promote policies and funding to ensure a coordinated continuum of care for children at risk, reducing children removed from home or kinship networks by providing families with the supports they need and expand extended foster care.
Issue Team Chair: Janet Hedgepath, email@example.com, (360) 318-3443
Funding more than policy change will be the focus of children’s issues in the 2023 Legislative Session.
The Department of Social and Health Services is making institutional changes to reduce out of home placements and to address the racial disproportionality among placements. A key piece of implementing this change will be providing necessary support for families such as mental health resources, home visiting services, material support, etc.
Extended Foster Care (EFC) exists to help young people who are dependents of the state when they turn 18. However, many young people in foster care are not receiving the support they need while in EFC. Expanding EFC eligibility requirements and available resources would better support its young people as they enter adulthood.
Funding priorities in the 2023 Legislative Session:
|House Bills||House||Senate||After Passage|
|Bill #||Bill Name (Brief Title)||League Position||Take Action||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||Passed Legislature||On Governor's Desk||Signed|
Concerning the duty of clergy to report child abuse and neglect
||Preserving public benefits to children in the care of DCYF||Support
These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass.
SB 5230 Concerning Extended Foster Care: Increases scope of present program. Creates a Post extended Foster Care Program in the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to support youth and young adults ages 21 through 25 who were in out-of-home care on their 18th birthday. Directs DCYF to make a number of changes to the Extended Foster Care Program, including changing the eligibility requirements so that a youth no longer has to meet federal eligibility requirements to be eligible for extended foster care.HB 1186/SB 5256 Making permanent and expanding the child welfare housing assistance program. This bill makes permanent a pilot program which provides housing vouchers, rental assistance, navigation and other support services to a parent of a child in out-of-home care in which a lack of appropriate housing is a remaining barrier to reunification or where housing instability is a barrier to remaining in the home. It expands the pilot to one or more counties both east and west of the Cascades. The bill is intended to reduce the need for foster care placement and shorten out of home care when placement is necessary.
HB 1405/SB 5397 Preserving public benefits to children in the care of DCYF. Preserving public benefit payments to people in the care of the department of children, youth, and families. DCYF can no longer apply a child’s benefit payments to reimbursement of that child’s care. When a child comes into care, DCYF must 1) assess whether a child is eligible for benefits (10-12% of foster youth receive disability, survivor, or veterans’ benefits while closer to 20% are eligible) and 2) develop and implement a financial literacy program for benefit recipients.
HB 1278/SB 5124 Supporting guardianships and voluntary placement with non-relative kin. Eligibility for guardianship subsidies is expanded to include any guardian who is a licensed foster parent, instead of just relatives licensed as foster parents. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) is authorized to provide subsidies for eligible guardians who are appointed as guardians of an Indian child by a tribal court.
HB 1098/SB 5280 Concerning the duty of clergy to report child abuse or neglect. The bill defines “member of the clergy” and includes them as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect if there is reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect. SB 5280 has an exemption from the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect for information that a member of the clergy obtains through a confession. Substitute HB 1098 removes that exemption.
Demands on the budget will be great this year. Advocacy will be crucial in securing the funding needed to support the State’s population of at risk children. Please follow the weekly legislative newsletter and any action alerts. Contacting legislators as an individual can be impactful. If you are interested in researching and following a particular issue, please contact Janet Hedgepath at firstname.lastname@example.org.