Social and Economic Policy
Children’s Services

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, jhedgepath@lwvwa.org, (360) 318-3443
 DOWNLOAD the Children's Programs Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 


Bill Tracking

Weekly Reports


Bill Descriptions


Get Involved

Overview

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:

  • Supporting initiatives to increase available mental health
  • Increasing financial support for kinship placements
  • Increasing availability of and access to home visiting, substance abuse treatment and mental health consultation
  • Extend EFC eligibility and increase monthly payments

Bill Tracking

Senate Bills Senate House 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
SB 5256 Making permanent and expanding the child welfare housing assistance program. Support
x








SB 5230

Extended Foster Care Support
x








SB 5397 Preserving benefits for children in DCYF’s care Support
x








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
HB 1186 Making permanent and expanding the child welfare housing assistance program. Support
x








HB 1405
Preserving public benefits to children in the care of DCYF Support
x









Weekly Reports

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. 


Bill Descriptions

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 Making permanent and expanding the child welfare housing assistance program. 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.

How To Be Involved

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 jhedgepath@lwvwa.org.


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