Commission on Children in Foster Care
May 17, 2010
Washington State Supreme Court
Commission on Children in Foster Care
May 17, 2010
Justice Bobbe Bridge, (ret.) Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
Ms. Denise Revels Robinson, DSHS Children’s Administration, Commission Co-Chair
Mr. Jim Bamberger, Director, Office of Civil Legal Aid
Ms. Annie Blackledge, (OSPI)
Ms. Beth Canfield, Co-President, Foster Parents Association of WA
Ms. Chori Folkman, Tribal Representative
Mr. Steve Hassett, Attorney General’s office
Rep. Ruth Kagi, WA State House of Representatives
Ms. Jeannie Kee, Foster Youth Alumnus
Ms. Joanne Moore, Director, Office of Public Defense
Ms. Barbara James, Washington State CASA
Judge Kitty Ann van Doorninck (on behalf of SCJA president)
Members not present: Ms. Sassi Ellsworth, Youth in Foster Care; Mr. Mike Canfield, Co-President, Foster Parents Association of Washington; Senator James Hargrove, WA State Senate
Guests: Ms. Elizabeth Barnes, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Mr. Greg Dootson, DSHS/CFSR Senior Coordinator; Ms. Deborah Purce, DSHS, Mr. Jeff Hall, AOC, Ms. Sydney Forrester, House of Representatives staff; Ms. Laurie Lippold.
Staff present: Ms. Karen Castillo, AOC Legal Services; Mr. Rick Coplen, AOC Court Services; Mr. Michael Curtis, CCFC Executive Director
Call to Order
Ms. Revels Robinson called the meeting to order.
Welcome and Introductions
Ms. Revels Robinson welcomed everyone and introduced the Commission’s two new members, Ms. Jeannie Kee, representing youth formerly in foster care, and Ms. Barbara James, the new director of WA CASA. Both were asked to share briefly about themselves. All others present then introduced themselves.
Approval of 02/22/10 Meeting Minutes
Ms. Revels Robinson asked for a motion to approve the February 22, 2010 meeting minutes. Judge van Doorninck moved that the minutes be approved; Ms. Moore seconded. It was requested that acronyms be used minimally. The 02/22/10 Meeting Minutes draft was adopted unanimously.
Children and Family Services Review (CFSR) Update
Ms. Deborah Purce provided an update on the CFSR. A draft Preliminary Assessment will be sent to the federal government this week with the final draft of the Preliminary Assessment due on July 7. Site selection for the on-site reviews will occur subsequent to completion of the Preliminary Assessment document. Training for the onsite reviews will be in June and the actual reviews will take place September 13-17. The Program Improvement Plan (PIP) will be prepared after the results of the review are received.
When asked if FamLink was the data source for the CFSR, Ms. Purce explained that the CFSR timelines called for data being submitted prior to FamLink going live. She added that Federal data was supplemented with data reported to Braam, central case review data, and the GMAP data. More current data will be available when the PIP is under development. Mr. Greg Dootson, Senior Coordinator of the CFSR, informed that their agreement with the federal government allows for use of updated data when determining whether the state is in conformity with the Federal standards. Greg added that a challenge of this assessment is its large scope, noting that it addresses 45 items and 7 systemic areas such as the statewide information system, staff training, etc. A copy of the draft Preliminary Assessment will be distributed to the Commission members for their review and comment. He requested all comments be submitted by May 31.
Site visits will take place in King County as well as two other sites. In all, sixty-five cases will be reviewed, some in-home and some out-of-home (foster care). Based on review of case records, interviews will take place with people connected to those cases, as well as social workers, and other stake holders. Approximately ½ of the review teams will be comprised of people from Washington, with the other half being from the Federal government. Judge van Doorninck, Judge Clark and Rep. Kagi have all expressed an interest in serving on a review team. In response to Ms. Canfield’s inquiry of whether foster parents will be on the team, Ms. Revels Robinson responded that they have implemented an inclusive process that will involve foster parents and birth parents. Mr. Dootson added that a lot of work went into reaching out to foster parents in the various regions of the state. In the assessment itself, he noted, there is a great deal of input from foster parents, judges, and others. Ms. Revels Robinson asked that any Commission member who is interested in serving on the review teams give their name to Mr. Dootson. The onsite review is Monday through Thursday, September 13-16, and a full exit on Friday Sept. 17, when they provide oral findings. She added that it will be a fairly intensive commitment of time. The meetings could go into the evening and could require travel. The training is required, which will take place on August 25 & 26 at SeaTac.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Update
Child Safety Training: Ms. Revels Robinson reported that they have been working with the National Resource Center for Child Protection (NRCCP), which is providing train the trainer training on child safety, conducting safety assessments and developing comprehensive child safety plans. Eventually all social workers will be trained. The Resource Center also will provide guidance on revising CA’s policies and assessment tools around child safety. As the state moves into performance-based contracting, partners who will be providing in home services to children will also be provided this training.
2106 Implementation: Ms. Revels Robinson distributed the Child Welfare Transformation Design Committee (TDC) Third Quarterly Report and discussed the information therein.
Mr. Hassett informed that there are four advisory committees within the TDC. He is on the Advisory Committee for Legal & Practice Issues, which is co-chaired by Thurston County Judge Chris Wickham and Liz Mueller, chair of IPAC. He said that they are starting to deal with some of the potential legal issues that arise from transition to private agencies. They have developed a list of questions that they will pass along to the TDC and to Ms. Revels Robinson. He said that a new section (Sec. 7) of HB2106 was enacted says that the office of AG shall provide or shall be required to provide representation for the private agencies. There are constitutional questions related to that and other issues that need to be answered, he noted, adding that, sometime within the foreseeable future, they will pass those on to the chairs of the committee.
Ms. Revels Robinson directed members to the website: www.joinhandsforchildren.org for information related to the work of the Transformation Design Committee.
A brief question and answer period followed.
Judicial Workload Study and King County Model Court Project Ms. Elizabeth Barnes of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) provided a status update on the Judicial Workload Study being conducted by the Council. She noted that the Washington Judicial Workload Study is the first of its kind in the nation; it is the first study to measure how much time it takes the judge to do the job both on the bench and off the bench. She then presented the outcomes of the study via a PowerPoint Presentation and answered questions from commission members. A copy of Ms. Barnes’ PowerPoint Presentation will be distributed by email to Commission Members.
Roundtable Discussion – 2010 Legislation
Mr. Steve Hassett distributed a 25-page document entitled “The 2010 Statutory Changes to Child Welfare Laws” and briefly discussed the major pieces of legislation in the report.
Child Representation Workgroup Report
There was a brief discussion regarding the Child Representation Workgroup. WSBA’s Juvenile Law Section is also addressing this issue and is coordinating efforts with the Commission’s work group. Mr. Jim Bamberger suggested that the Commission develop recommendations by the next meeting in September.
Foster Youth Education Summit: Mr. Curtis said that most items proposed on the chart have been accomplished, the exception being those that stalled because of fiscal concerns. It is planned to reconvene the individuals involved in the Summit’s planning to determine next steps. He will report on this at the next meeting.
Child Welfare Decision Makers Summits: Mr. Curtis informed that the Report on the Child Welfare Decision Makers’ Summits is now published. CCYJ will be convening a group of philanthropists who have expressed an interest in the Summits’ recommendations. It is thought that there may be interest in funding implementation of some recommendations coming from the Summits. This meeting will take place next Monday, May 24. At the September meeting, a progress report, modeled after the Foster Youth Education Summit progress, will be provided to the Commission.
· Best Practices Workgroup membership
Justice Bridge said that today’s discussion from Ms. Barnes certainly provides a lot of fodder for discussion. Ms. Moore originally proposed that we should primarily focus on earlier interventions, which may require some additional research. We are still working on how to people this work group. Ms. Moore will be one member; a judge will be another. There should also be defense counsel, an AG, Tim Jaasko Fisher, and others that the Commission members can suggest via email.
· Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
Mr. Curtis noted that this was a topic discussed during the August retreat, with the focus is on DD kids who are transitioning out of foster care. He added that, subsequently, the Division of Developmental Disabilities reported back on the work they’re doing and was questioning whether the Commission remains interested in creating this workgroup.
Justice Bridge said that the Commission needs to learn more about how these youth and their needs intersect with the Fostering Connections Act. She also questioned if a Commission workgroup on foster care transitions for DD youth will duplicate work that someone else is doing. She added that it has been the intention of the Commission not to duplicate efforts. In situations where another group is addressing an issue of concern to the Commission, the Commission can bring them to the table and serve as a sounding board, but not duplicate what they’re doing.
Ms. Canfield responded that her concern is youth transitioning out of foster care who have mental health issues and end up transitioning to the street. Rep. Roberts noted there has been a fair amount of work done over a year by a multidimensional workgroup that looks at these youth as relates to the criminal justice system. Knowing what kinds of recommendations came out of the group might be helpful, she added. Ms. Canfield added that it’s also about educating caregivers on how to get kids connected – specifically those kids who do not quite qualify for DD and don’t qualify for Western State. And it’s about educating fosters parents on how to advocate for kids. Some of the kids need to have a legal guardian to look out for them and make sure they get access to the resources available, she said.
Rep. Roberts asked what we need to add to state law in order to access the federal funds available through the Fostering Connections Act – specifically the Fostering- to-21 component.
· Commission membership expansion
Justice Bridge discussed the Commission’s plans to expand its membership with two additional members: a private provider with some policy acumen, and a child welfare system alumni parent.
She noted that this will require a court order from the Supreme Court. She also noted that Sassi Ellsworth no longer qualifies to be the child in foster care representative because she has been adopted.
· The Fatherhood Council requests
Commission members discussed the question, “Do we want to have a father, per se, or a parent on the Commission?” Several concerns were expressed, including concerns about expanding the membership too far, and whether it would be appropriate to give only fathers a seat at the table without including mothers, kinship care providers, etc. Creating subcommittees or work groups to bring in these groups was among the ideas suggested. It was agreed that the Commission members should think about alternatives to Commission expansion, to ensure the voice of various constituent groups is heard. This will be discussed at the September Commission meeting.
· Supreme Court Assessment of Boards/Commissions Structure
Mike Curtis reported that the Chief Justice has convened a Commissions Assessment Advisory Committee to review the current structure of Supreme Court commissions and boards that share the similar mission of providing access to justice. He said that he is hoping that this assessment will result in additional AOC staff support for the Commission.
· Fostering Youth & Alumni Youth Summit
Justice Bridge encouraged everyone to attend the Friday, June 25th Commission meeting being held in conjunction with the annual Foster Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit. The meeting is scheduled for 1:00 – 3:00 at the SeaTac Hilton. Members who cannot attend were requested to designate a substitute so the Commission would have a full presence at the meeting.
The next quarterly meeting of the Foster Care Commission is scheduled for September 27, 2010.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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