Working to transform the child welfare system.

SB 5498: Creating the department of children, youth, and families

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.  SB 5498 establishes the department of children, youth, and families as an executive branch.

Summary of Bill (Proposed Substitute):

Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The DCYF is created on July 1, 2018. Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Effective July 1, 2018: DEL is eliminated, and the functions performed by that agency are moved to the DCYF. Effective July 1, 2018: the child welfare functions of the DSHS Children’s Administration move from DSHS to the DCYF. Effective July 1, 2019: the juvenile justice functions of the DSHS Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration move from DSHS to the DCYF.

Office of Innovation and Alignment (OIA). The OIA is created within the Office of the Governor with the primary duty of developing and presenting a plan for the establishment of the DCYF, which will include: coordinating and convening DEL, DSHS, policy workgroups, and research institutions in the development of an integrated management portfolio management and administrative structure for the DCYF, which would include a definition of outcomes to measure performance for DCYF; developing a stakeholder advisory system for the DCYF; developing an information technology design and investment plan required to effectively integrate the CA, JRA, OJJ, and DEL, and to meet other goals for consideration in the 2018 supplemental budget; developing a consultation policy and protocol with the various federally recognized tribes in the state of Washington; and reviewing existing statutes affecting DEL and DSHS and identifying conflicts or barriers that these statutes present. On July 1, 2018, the OIA transitions from the Office of the Governor to the DCYF. Once part of DCYF, the responsibilities of the OIA include: recommending implementation of advancements based on research; alignment and measurement of outcomes; quality assurance and evaluation of programs and services; leading partnerships with the community, research and teaching institutions, philanthropic organizations, and nonprofit organizations; and producing an annual work plan that includes priorities for ongoing policy, practice, and system reform, tracking and reporting on the performance of DCYF reforms. Additionally, the OIA must establish short- and long-term population-level outcome measures, including metrics regarding reducing disparities by income and race by each outcome. DCYF must report on outcome measures and progress towards these goals at least annually, beginning December 1, 2018. Outcome measures include, but are not limited to: Improving child and youth safety, permanency, and well-being. Improving reconciliation of children and youth with their families. Reducing criminal justice involvement and recidivism. Improving child development and school readiness through voluntary, high-quality early learning opportunities. No funds may be expended by DCYF unless pursuant to performance-based contracts.

Oversight Board for Children, Youth and Families (Board). DCYF is to establish the Board. The Board is to ensure DCYF’s compliance with its statutory obligations and other responsibilities. To the extent possible, the Board is to co-locate with OFCO. The Board shall consist of the following 11 members: two senators and two representatives from the Legislature with one member from each caucus; three subject matter experts in early learning, child welfare, juvenile rehabilitation, and justice; two parent stakeholder group representatives; one law enforcement representative; and one judicial representative practicing in family law or other children’s matters. Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ The Board has the following powers: to request investigations by OFCO; to identify policy changes; to conduct hearings; to request and receive data from DCYF; to request audits by the State Auditor related to areas of DCYF’s performance; to review DCYF contracts; to provide advice and input to DCYF; to hold annual stakeholder meetings to hear any grievances; to engage in annual surveys to assess whether DCYF is meeting its annual benchmarks; and to elect an Executive Director, who is exempt from the provisions of the state civil service law. Together with the Director of DCYF, the Board is to identify and establish desired outcomes, performance metrics, and personnel objectives for DCYF. The Board is not to exceed a staff of three full-time equivalent employees.Ÿ If there is a finding by the State Auditor that DCYF is failing to meet its statutory requirements regarding performance-based contracts, the Board may notify and direct the Director of the Office of Financial Management to revise allotments and appropriation levels for DCYF. By December 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, the Board is to issue an annual report to the Legislature and Governor. The report is to include information regarding DCYF’s progress towards meeting its performance measures, performance outcomes, personnel matters, a review of DCYF’s strategic plan, performance, policies, and rules.

Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds. OFCO is expanded to monitor and recommend changes in the procedures for addressing the needs of children, youth, families, juvenile rehabilitation, juvenile justice, and child early learning. OFCO is to submit an annual report including any recommendations to the Board and Governor.