Working to transform the child welfare system.


SB 5864: Concerning the goal of ending homelessness

SB 5864 intends to end runaway and unaccompanied homeless children in Washington by July 1, 2018 by considering runaway and unaccompanied homeless children as neglected and must either be reunified with their family or at the very least screened in for services by DSHS. The bill outlines the following requirements and steps to achieve this goal:

(1) This bill requires mandatory reporting of missing children for parents, guardians, and caregivers.

(2) Requires annual inspections of licensed facilities that provide shelter to unaccompanied homeless youth and report the results to the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) and the legislature.

(3) The bill states that any parent, legal guardian, or caregiver who knowingly fails to notify law enforcement within forty-eight hours of learning that a child in his or her care is missing is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(4) This bill removes provisions around permanent connections, education, and employment from the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act .

(5) Develop a process to identify unaccompanied homeless youth and ensure unaccompanied homeless youth are taken into custody and brought to the nearest HOPE center.

(6) For a service provider that receives public funds including, but not limited to, federal, state, and local funding, a person seeking services must provide his or her personally identifying information to receive any services from the service provider.

(7) The bill amends the definition of “Gravely disabled” to include substance use disorder.

(8) Requires that any public and privately owned homeless shelters provide a daily report on the number of beds available that must be inputted into a central information system to be created by DOC and that may be used by law enforcement officials and local governments searching for homeless shelter space or homeless encampments.

(9) Requires data collection on homelessness to be consistent with United States Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements. Requires a state homeless housing strategic plan must be submitted to the legislature by July 1, 2018, and updated every five years thereafter. addressing short-term and long-term housing for homeless persons.

Other components of the bill:

– Changes the advisory committee of OHY to four legislators (one from each party from both chambers) and eight additional members as appointed by the legislature

– Effective August 1, 2017, all grants must be used for housing or family reconciliation services and cannot be used for street youth services.

– By January 1, 2018, OHY must develop a runaway and abandoned youth database to be shared with DSHS and local governments

– Requires that the grants provided by the home security fund account to be awarded for programs directly related to addressing the root causes of homelessness, preventing homelessness, and collecting data and information on homeless individuals.

– By February 1st of each year, the DOC must provide an update on the state’s homeless housing strategic plan and its activities for the prior fiscal year.

– Amends current statute to designate six percent of the funds from the affordable housing for all surcharge to be used by the county for the collection and local distribution of these funds and administrative costs related to its homeless housing plan.

-The sum of fifty thousand dollars, or as much as may be necessary, is appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 to be distributed to five community action agencies to implement a quality management system and prepare and submit an application to the Washington State Quality Awards (WSQA) program by December 1, 2019.

-The sum of two hundred thousand dollars, or as much thereof may be necessary, is appropriated for the fiscal biennium ending June 30, 2019, and every two years thereafter, from the general fund to the state auditor’s office for the purpose of an audit to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of state homeless programs.

Ways and Means Amendments:

– Expands mandated reporter requirements to street youth services staff and people who work with children.

– Requires the Department of Social and Health Services to locate unaccompanied homeless children and track specific information, subject to appropriation.

– Mandates that a parent or legal guardian who knowingly fails to report to law enforcement that a child in their care has been missing for more than 48 hours is guilty of a misdemeanor.

– Makes camping on public property illegal. Preempts homeless encampments.

– Revises the Homeless Housing and Assistance Act.

– Restructures the allocation of document recording surcharge fees.

– Extends the increased Homeless and Housing Assistance Act surcharge to 2022.

– Provides appropriations for specific programs to implement a quality management award system.

– Appropriates funds to the State Auditor for the purpose of an audit determining the effectiveness and efficiency of the state homeless programs.