In 2012 the Washington State legislature passed a number of significant bills related to child welfare. While implementation has begun, much will be unfolding during 2013 and beyond, as these new laws will reshape child welfare policy and practice.

Four of the 2012 pieces of child welfare legislation include:

Performance Based Contracting - House Bill 2264

Adds accountability to the system by aligning financial incentives with outcomes for children involved with the public child welfare system. It also requires a complete review of home-based services to ensure that these services meet the needs of families, adhere to sound scientific principles, and get the desired result.

Family Assessment Response - Senate Bill 6555

Creates an alternative to conducting a traditional Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation in low to moderate risk cases referred to the system with concerns of child maltreatment. These families would be offered services without the requirement of a legal finding of child maltreatment. Family Assessment Response provides a structured way of protecting children while reducing the coercive nature of traditional child protection activities.

Reinvesting Savings from Improved Outcomes - House Bill 2263

Creates a Child and Family Reinvestment Account to capture savings from potential foster care reductions for reinvestment in home-based/early intervention services to families. Previously, serving children in their own homes would result in a net reduction to the Children’s Administration budget, rather than redirecting service dollars to more cost effective preventative services.

Evidenced Based Programs - House Bill 2536

Aims to increase the proportion of contracted services that have a sound scientific evidence base. This new law requires agencies that deliver prevention and intervention services to meet graduated requirements for increasing the percentage of funds expended on evidence-based programs.