foster care

Bill Proposed to Reduce Rates of Family Separation

Great news from Washington DC as bi-partisan house and senate representatives have proposed new child welfare legislation, that would work to reduce the number of children in foster care. Mental health and substance abuse issues can strip parents of the resources they need to build loving and healthy homes for their families; this bill proposes expanding access to family, health, and treatment services to empower families to remain united. In addition, when separation is needed, this bill will prioritize children being placed with relatives. 

According to the Ways and Means Committee press release, the Family First Prevention Services Act will strengthen families and reduce inappropriate foster care placements by:

  • Giving states flexibility to use federal foster care dollars to provide upfront, evidence-based prevention services — such as parent training and individual and family therapy — to prevent inappropriate foster care placements and improve outcomes for children and parents.
  • Ensuring more foster children are placed with families by ending federal reimbursement when states inappropriately place children in non-family settings.
  • Keeping children safe by reauthorizing the Regional Partnership Grant program that provides funding to state and local evidence-based services aimed at preventing child abuse and child neglect due to parental substance abuse.
  • Reducing the amount of time foster children wait to be adopted or placed with relatives across state lines by encouraging states to replace their outdated child placement systems with a more efficient electronic system.
  • Supporting family members who unexpectedly assume responsibility for a child by providing important caregiver resources and eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

Empire Health Foundation has been working to build a more family supportive child welfare system in our region through the work of our subsidiaries Family Impact Network and Rising Strong. We look forward to following this bill as it is introduced.

For a summary of the bill, click here.
For draft bill text, click here.

Crosscut on research-based interventions in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

June 29 Crosscut article by Judy Lightfoot

Washington State is leading innovation in research-based practices in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  As this article from Crosscut details, resources are being shifted away from dated interventions such as Scared Straight -- which produce poor or null outcomes while costing taxpayers millions -- and toward evidence-based and research-based interventions, as defined in House Bill 2536.  Drawing on partnerships with research institutes and groups across the nation, including Frontiers of Innovation, a research collaborative based at Harvard University's Center for the Developing Child, Washington is looking to use science to develop better policy and practice for child welfare and juvenile justice interventions.  The quote from the article that really resonated with us was:

In short, refusing to cultivate kids — whether it’s turning our backs on them, imposing harsh penalties or trying to ‘scare them straight’ — is not a best practice, and the benefit-cost ratio is dismal.

So right!

One of the featured organizations, Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, successfully reduced out-of-school suspensions by 85% in one year, and tripled its graduation rate since first implementing trauma-informed practices in 2012.  In fact, Lincoln Alternative was the inspiration for our partnership with Rogers High School, which achieved a 35% reduction in out-of-school suspensions in its first year!

Finally, this article perfectly illustrates why we are working with Children's Administration and our new subsidiary the Family Impact Network to bring practices like these home to eastern Washington and introduce new efficiencies in the local child welfare system.  It is only through key partnerships like this, which bring scientific knowledge into conversations with on-the-ground communities, that we will be able to reach our goal of reducing the number of children in foster care in eastern Washington by 50% in five years!

Download the full PDF of the Crosscut article below:

Spokesman journalist Jody Lawrence Turner wins first place award for foster care series

Spokesman journalist Jody Lawrence Turner took home the First Place Prize for Social Issues Reporting from the Northwest Society of Professional Journalists Region 10 contest this week.  The winning series, "Fixing Foster Care: A Special Report," gives an in-depth look into the foster care system from a diverse set of perspectives and details several local agencies' work to improve the system.  The opportunities for positive change are enormous, which is why EHF continues to invest in partnerships and initiatives designed to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of children in foster care by 50%.

Read the full, award-winning series:

Originally published October 19, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.

Originally published October 19, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.

Originally published October 20, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.

Originally published October 20, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.

Originally published October 19, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.

Originally published October 19, 2014 by the Spokesman Review.