Friday, March 30, 2012

A great day for children and families...

Rep. Ruth Kagi
Amid the flurry of bills signed by Governor Gregoire today, three in particular are going to make a big difference in the child welfare arena.

Our state has been employing innovative and effective strategies to serve families in crisis for some time. We're focused on improving outcomes for these families, and that means keeping parents and children together if possible rather than breaking them apart.

But our success has hurt us.  Although we've seen an 18 percent decline in foster care placements since 2008, we've also had a reduction in state and federal child welfare dollars as a result.  That's because the funding formula for child welfare is based on the number of out-of-home placements.  Meanwhile, the innovative and effective strategies we use to try to avoid breaking families up are not adequately funded.  Rep. Ruth Kagi wrote about this problem in a Seattle Times guest editorial  in January.

That's one thing that's now going to change.  Today's package of child welfare reforms gives our state more flexibility in how we manage the limited dollars we have, and gives caseworkers new - and better - tools to help troubled families.  Two of the three bills signed were sponsored by Rep. Kagi, and the third is a Senate bill she helped champion in the House.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.