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  • After it has been decided that a child cannot safely be reunified with his or her birth parent(s), child welfare agencies typically pursue adoption options. In Washington State and across the country, adoption is the second most common permanency outcome (after reunification).

  • Youth who are not provided optimal opportunities to thrive or are put in potentially unsafe environments are considered at-risk. These youth often face more life challenges than their peers, which can impact their lives as adults.

  • State and federal budgets support many services and programs that serve vulnerable children and families. It’s important to monitor budget and funding discussions to ensure that resources are spent wisely on programs or services that deliver the best possible outcomes.

  • Child abuse or neglect is any injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or injury of a child by any person that causes harm to the child's health, welfare, or safety, or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child.

  • Courts often play a major role in the lives of families who become involved in the child welfare system, including decisions on when a child should be removed from home, whether parental rights should be terminated or when a child can be safely returned home. While the court process is similar across the state, there are slight variations on how decisions are made across jurisdictions.

  • Data is critical to informed decision making, which is why it’s important to build data reporting requirements into systems when appropriate. Investments in data reporting and analytics can help build knowledge of populations served, understanding of how services work and more.

  • The first years of a child’s life are incredibly important.  Children who have nurturing, healthy and supportive experiences in their early years are much better prepared to succeed in school and life.  Early learning strategies focus on the critical supports that children, ages 0-5, need in order to thrive.

  • Access to high quality education is the right to every child in our state and across the country – it can be an equalizer in society by enabling people to prosper in life.

  • When children can no longer live safely at home, they are often temporarily placed into foster care until a permanent solution can be identified. The general expectation is that children who enter care will either return to their parents as soon as possible, or will be provided with safe, stable and loving families through placement with relatives or adoption.

  • Guardianship is established by court order and grants custody to someone who is not the child's parent. The guardian is granted full custody of the child with the right to make most decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and care until the child is 18 years old. Guardianship is most frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members.

  • Children’s health is central to overall well-being and must be a priority for public systems. Further, addressing health disparities is important in order to fully understand challenges within our systems and communities.

  • Safe and stable housing is critically important for children's well-being, but many families struggle with the limited options available and high costs.

  • Having a parent in prison can have an impact on a child’s emotional and behavioral well-being, family stability, academic performance and more.

  • If a report to the child welfare system meets the legal definition of child abuse or neglect, the state must investigate or assess the family and determine if the child is safe at home, if the family needs support services and/or if the child should be placed into out-of-home care.

  • When possible, child welfare agencies try to place children with kin or relatives when they can no longer safely stay at home. Placement with kin is associated with improved well-being.

  • Living in poverty can have a wide range of negative effects on physical and mental health, and particularly adverse effects on academic outcomes, especially during early childhood.

  • Mental health is an important part of psychological and emotional well-being. In the child welfare system, both parents and children can be affected by poor mental health.

  • Mentors can be very helpful for someone navigating a new part of life. Within the child welfare system, there is evidence to suggest that parents who have been involved in the child welfare system previously can effectively mentor parents who are new to the system.

  • When children can no longer live safely at home, they are often temporarily placed into out-of-home care until a permanent solution can be identified. The general expectation is that children who enter care will either return to their parents as soon as possible, or will be provided with safe, stable and loving families through placement with relatives or adoption.

  • Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood.

  • Permanency is one of the key objectives of any child welfare system – trying to find a safe, permanent home for a child who has been placed in out-of-home care.

  • Prevention aims to reduce or deter specific problems, protect overall well-being and promote desired outcomes. When prevention is not possible, an effective intervention is necessary to get an individual or family on the right track and eventually improve outcomes.

  • Public assistance is typically provided by the government to those in need. There are many different programs in our state and across the country, but the ultimate goal is to ensure the health and safety of a person or family until they can provide for themselves.

  • Reunification is the process of returning children in temporary out-of-home care to their families. Reunification is both the primary goal for children in out-of-home care, as well as the most common outcome.

  • Every child deserves a safe home, so they have the opportunity to thrive, which is why the safety of children is the highest priority of the child welfare system.

  • State policy can shape how systems interact with the most vulnerable children and families. That makes it critically important that policy is informed by solid, trustworthy information and data.

  • Substance abuse is one of the primary contributing factors for child abuse and neglect. Parents who become involved in the child welfare system due to substance abuse must successfully go through treatment in order to safely reunify with their child.

  • While system reform can take time, making positive systems changes can have a great impact on the people it serves.

  • When a child is placed into out-of-home care, they can maintain family contact through regularly scheduled in-person visits. Visitation is important for both child and parent to maintain and improve their family bond.

  • Nearly one quarter of homeless youth were involved in the child welfare system as some point in their life – demonstrating the interconnection between child welfare involvement and youth homelessness.