Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 1661: Creating the department of children, youth, and families

Please Note: the version of the bill that passed on May 25th during second special session, is the version that passed out of the House during the regular session.

The legislature finds that early learning, child welfare, and juvenile justice services for and involvement with children and families in this state are somewhat fragmented because those services are housed in separate state agencies and, as a result, not always well-coordinated. To improve the delivery of services as well as the outcomes achieved for children and families through the delivery of these services, they should be housed in one state agency.  HB 1661 establishes the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) as an executive branch agency.

In addition to making necessary technical changes, HB 1661 includes the following:

1. Gives the Director of the DCYF control of the internal affairs of the agency and states that unless limited by law, the director has the complete charge and supervisory powers over the department.  The Director may create the administrative structures as deemed appropriate and employ personnel as may be necessary.

2. Creates the Office of Innovation and Alignment and specifies that the primary duties of the Office is on developing and presenting a plan for the establishment of the DCYF, including: 

  1. Coordination between the department of early learning, the department of social and health services, and the juvenile rehabilitation administration.
  2. Convening research institutions to establish priorities for developing a portfolio management and administrative structure for the DCYF that includes establishing mechanisms for effectively partnering with communities and others, as well as, developing a definition of outcomes that the DCYF will be held accountable in order to measure the performance o the department reforms and priorities.
  3. Developing a stakeholder advisory system for the DCYF, as well as an external review protocol for the dept to ensure effective implementation of the policies and practices established by the office.
  4. Developing an information technology design and investment plan that will integrate the dept of early learning, children’s administration, and the juvenile rehabilitation administration.
  5. Developing a consultation policy and protocol,with the 29 federally recognized tribes.
  6. Reviewing existing statutes affecting the department of early learning and the dept. of social and health services in order to identify conflicts, barriers, etc.

3. Transitions the Office of Innovation and Alignment from the office of the governor to the DCYF and lays out the primary duties of the office, such as aligning and measuring outcomes, leading partnerships with community, philanthropic organizations, and others, focusing on quality assurance and measuring outcomes, and producing an annual work plan that includes ongoing policy, practice and system reform, tracking, and reporting out on the performance of dept. reforms.

4. Directs the DCYF director to make all of the evaluation and research materials and data on private nonprofit group homes available to group home contractors.

For a complete summary of amendments to HB 1661, click on the file below.