SB 5890 would:
(1) Expand respite care for foster parents to include case aides who provide temporary assistance to foster parents as needed to support the parental efforts of foster parents, subject to funding appropriated specifically for this purpose.
(2) Require the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to assess the impact of this respite care on the retention of foster homes, the number of placements a foster child receives, and the return on investment to the state—a preliminary report is due December 1, 2018, with a final report due June 30, 2020, subject to funding appropriated specifically for this purpose.
(3) Require DSHS to establish a Case Review Panel to review all foster care cases where, after the effective date of this legislation, permanency is not achieved within 12 months after being placed in foster care, within existing appropriation levels.
(4) Increase the cap for adoption support maintenance payments for children five years of age and older.
(5) Extend eligibility in the College Bound Scholarship Program to include individuals who were adopted between the ages of 14 and 18 and allows foster youth and individuals adopted between the ages of 14 and 18 to remain eligible for the scholarship if they have received a high school equivalency certificate.
(6) Repeal the income eligibility rules for nonparental caregivers receiving a TANF grant on behalf of a child who is living with the caregiver
(7) Create the Child Welfare System Improvement Account in the State Treasury to be used for foster home licensing, achieving permanency for children, support and assistance to foster parents, and improving and increasing placement options.
(8) Repeal the Child and Family Reinvestment Account on June 30, 2017, and transfers residual balances to the State General Fund on July 1, 2017
• Regarding the respite care established in the bill: Clarifies that the respite care does not include overnight assistance; Clarifies that DSHS shall contract with community-based organizations (CBO) in each region rather than one CBO in each region; Clarifies that the training, background checks, and qualifications of individuals delivering the respite care will be determined by DSHS; Clarifies that the performance-based contracting that is expressly mandated is for the respite care established in the bill
• Adds language requiring DSHS to work with stakeholders (including child placing agencies and foster care advocates) to identify a system of support services to be provided to foster parents to assist them in their efforts with foster children and a plan to implement these support services statewide. The plan shall be submitted to the Legislature no later than January 15, 2018 and shall include estimated costs to implement these support services and recommendations for phasing this in.
• Establishes a process whereby a foster parent who had a license and was in good standing with DSHS within the last 5 years but whose license is not current to obtain a probationary license immediately upon satisfactory completion of a criminal background check and any in-service training that would have been required during the time frame that the license was not active. DSHS is to make reasonable allowances for the consideration of the licensee’s prior experience as a foster parent, including training previously received, when determining the requirements that are necessary to be completed to grant a license renewal.
• Within existing appropriation levels, requires DSHS to establish a Case Review Panel (Panel) to review foster care cases where permanency has not been achieved within 12 months. The Panel shall be comprised of, at a minimum, the Secretary of the Children’s Administration; a lead social worker; the Family and Children Ombuds; and one child advocate. Beginning September 1, 2017, the Panel shall review all foster care cases where, after the effective date of the legislation, a child reaches 12 months in out-of-home placement and has not achieved permanency. This review must occur by the child’s thirteenth month in out-of-home placement. At each case review, the Panel must develop a plan of action, including recommended next steps for DSHS to take, to achieve permanency. DSHS is encouraged to convene the Panel regularly to review other foster care cases as needed to ensure stability and permanency is achieved and length of stay for children in foster care is reduced. DSHS is encouraged to maximize the use of existing permanency roundtables, family team decision meetings, and case conferences to conduct these case reviews.
• Removes language requiring children adopted between the ages of 14 and 18 to submit a pledge to participate in the College Bound Scholarship Program as these children will have already been included as eligible while in foster care.
• Corrects the effective date of the repeal of the Child and Family Reinvestment Account to be effective June 30, 2017 rather than 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.
• Adds language to repeal the sunset review that is required to be conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee of the Child and Family Reinvestment Account.
• Adds language that if any provision of the act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder is not affected.
• Adds language that if any part of the act is found to be in conflict with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act or federal requirements that are a prescribed condition to the allocation of federal funds to the state that the conflicting part is inoperative.
• Adds language requiring that rules adopted under the act must meet federal requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and federal requirements that are a necessary condition to the receipt of federal funds by the state.