In 2016, Partners for Our Children will focus on policies that will improve outcomes for children by effectively engaging parents and families, and by improving the systems that work with them. We support:
- Performance Based Contracting and Family Assessment Response - POC will support the funding and RCW changes needed to continue successful implementation of these two significant child welfare reform efforts.
- Poverty Reduction - Reducing family/child poverty could have a significant impact on a number of outcomes, including involvement with the child welfare system and achieving educational success. POC is working in collaboration with legislators and others to identify strategies that could effectively reduce poverty and improve child and family outcomes.
- Increasing the Focus on Children and Family Services - A number of states are moving from umbrella human services organizations to separate departments of children's services. POC is exploring the reasons behind such shifts, whether the expectations have been achieved, and how having a cabinet level children's department could improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system in Washington State.
- Court Improvement Pilot - Funding and statutory changes (if necessary) will be requested to implement the pilot currently being developed to reduce dependency court involvement and increase safe reunification or another appropriate permanency outcome.
- Visitation Policies and Practices - Policies and practices related to supervised parent/child visitation (for families involved in the child welfare system) are being reviewed. POC is participating in a workgroup focusing on changes necessary to improve visitation practice and use resources more effectively and efficiently.
- Access to Appropriate Mental Health Services for Children - Access to appropriate children's mental health services has been problematic over the years. POC is working with legislators and a broad group of stakeholders to identify ways, including through the use of school based services, to better ensure children and families receive what they need - as early as possible.
Additionally, Partners for Our Children will collaborate with others on strategies that are associated with improving outcomes for children and families, such as:
- Expanding the use of data available to measure child well-being;
- Allowing two years of vocational education for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, fully restoring the TANF grant, eliminating means testing for kinship child-only TANF, and expanding the Kinship Navigator Program;
- Addressing foster care issues, such as foster home recruitment and retention, forecasting Behavioral Rehabilitation Services (BRS), workforce, education outcomes;
- Expanding pre-K programs and other effective learning strategies (including home visiting); and
- Removing barriers to housing, employment and caregiving through passage of strategies such as the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity, income discrimination, and portable screens.