Commission on Children in Foster Care
December 20, 2010
Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care December 20, 2010 Meeting Minutes
Washington State Supreme Court
Commission on Children in Foster Care
December 20, 2010 Meeting Minutes
Justice Bobbe Bridge, (ret.) Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
DSHS Asst. Secretary Ms. Denise Revels Robinson, Commission Co-Chair
Mr. Jim Bamberger, OCLA
Mr. Mike Canfield, Co-chair, Foster Parents Association of Washington
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
Judge Steve Warning, SCJA
Members not present: Ms. Annie Blackledge; Ms. Beth Canfield; Senator Hargrove; Ms. Barbara James
Professor Lisa Kelly, UW School of Law; Mr. Tim Jaasko-Fisher; Ms. Jan Hoppler, DSHS/CA; Mr. Jim Theofilis, Mockingbird Society; Ms. Laurie Lippold, Children’s Home Society of WA; King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum; Rep. Mary Helen Roberts; Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty Ann Van Doorninck ; Ms. Lorrie Thompson, AOC; Mr. Michael Griesedieck, AAG
Mr. Michael Curtis, Executive Director
Ms. Karen Castillo, Administrative Office of the Courts
Mr. Joseph Timmons, Intern, CCYJ
Welcome and Introductions:
Ms. Revels Robinson called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone present. Ryan Cummings was introduced as the newest member of the commission. Mr. Cummings provided a brief summary of his experience as a youth in foster care. Mr. Steve Hassett noted that he will be retiring early next year and introduced Mr. Michael Griesedieck, his replacement. Mr. Griesedieck provided a brief summary of his experience at the AG’s office.
Approval of Meeting Minutes
Upon motion by Judge Van Doorninck and second by Joanne Moore, the Commission meeting minutes of September 27,2010 were approved.
Children’s Administration Reports
Child and Family Services Review (CFSR)
Ms. Jan Hoppler reported on the CFSR and informed that DSHS is waiting for the final report from the Federal review board. In the meantime they are reviewing service improvements that are now underway. She distributed an outline, and a notice of the CFSR Program Improvement Plan Symposium scheduled for January 18th.
Overarching themes – the focus is on safety, permanence, and family engagement (making sure they receive family input into the discussions). The state assessment team that assisted with the review of the current state of practice will be reconvening on January 18, in anticipation of having the final report by that time. DSHS is thinking about the future and improvements in the service plan, and the Planning Team has identified the need for incresed youth and parent involvement in the process.
The Commission discussed the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System and it was suggested that the Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee convened by DSHS might want to become involved in the task force. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said that she will notify the DSHS committee about this task force.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson discussed the steps involved in the process of the performance-based contracting. Lead agency contractors – hopefully at least one per region.
Questions and answers:
There was a question about budget impacts on the performance based contracting. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said that, based on the amount of money currently in the budget, DSHS is still able to implement the performance based contracting. The legislation requires DSHS to implement by July 1, 2011, and the money is currently available for the start-up and first year costs. This does not include case managers; the two demonstration sites will conduct work that the CA is currently fulfilling. Half of funds will go to the state agency and half will be distributed to private agencies for the demonstration project. Money for the tribes is separate. Part one of the project is to ensure that core services are delivered to all families.
Rep. Kagi said that during Committee Week, they had a hearing on 2106 and performance based contracting. There were reports from around 27 states that have implemented performance based contracting, and the information was very encouraging. Every state that has implemented performance-based contracting has said they would not return to previous service delivery methods.
2010 Supplemental Budget
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson informed that Washington State faces a 1.1 billion shortfall in the current biennium and the governor’s proposed reductions would impact children in foster care. She distributed and reviewed a handout, and informed that under the Governor’s proposal, 100 FTE positions will be eliminated.
Commission members discussed increased dependency filings,centering the conversation around Pierce County. It was mentioned that some of the increased filings are military related . Mr. Hassett also pointed out that as the social safety net has frayed – peoples’ support networks have declined, with family members unable to assist each other.
Foster Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit
Mr. Jim Theofilis distributed the 2010 Foster Care and Alumni Leadership Summit report and provided additional information about the fifth annual Summit. He also announced that February 18th is Youth Advocacy Day and encouraged everyone to attend the events in Olympia.
Two of the issues raised during the 2010 Youth Leadership Summit are 1) transitioning out of foster care and 2) safety in care (i.e. foster parent testing for drugs and alcohol). Implementation of the Fostering Connections Act will be a priority focus for the foster youth/alumni during the 2011 session. Mr. Theofelis expressed appreciation to Rep. Kagi and Rep. Roberts for their work to support foster youth specifically citing their support for “unannounced visits”. Mockingbird Society has researched this issue and found that this policy has a viable role in increasing the safety of foster children. Under the proposed legislation, ten percent of all foster home visits will be unannounced.
Mr. Theofelis thanked Children’s Administration and Casey Family Programs for their support in producing the 2010 Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit Report and announced that
the 2011 Summit will be on June 27-29 at Seattle University. Rep. Roberts said that the information provided during the Youth Leadership Summits is very helpful and that she will be sponsoring a couple of the bills related to issues raised during these Summits. Justice Bridge said that in their evaluation forms, Summit attendees always ranked the Commission meeting at the top of events occurring during the Summit. She encouraged Commission members to attend the 2011 Summit.
Mr. Canfield said that he agrees with Mr. Theofilis that there is still a lot to be done and appreciates the opportunity to provide input. However, Mr. Canfield said that FPAWS is opposing the legislation requiring unannounced visits, in part because CA already has the authority to visit foster homes unannounced. He added that improved training would improve foster parenting.
Mr. Cummings commented that based on his own experience, social worker/foster child continuity is of great benefit to the child.
Child Welfare Decision Makers’ Summit
Mr. Timmons provided information about the Decision Makers Summits progress report for December, which was emailed to Commission member prior to the meeting. Justice Bridge said that the Commission will not be reviewing these reports item by item during meetings, but encouraged the members to read the reports in advance of the meetings so that specific items can be discussed if necessary.
Foster Youth Education Summit
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson contacted the College Success Foundation and asked the Foundation to provide a report about foster youth education best practices. That report was provided in early November. In January, there will be a meeting with the Stewart Foundation to determine whether there will be follow-up Decision Makers’ Summit as well.
Children’s Representation Workgroup
Using a Power Point Presentation, Professor Lisa Kelly reviewed the Children’s Representation report prepared by the Children’s Representation Workgroup pursuant to HB 2735.
Core values and assumptions from HB 2735 and lawyers in the field are as followed:
· Washington State should follow a “Stated Interest” model rather than “best interest” approach;
· rules of professional responsibility should apply and be consistent for lawyers representing children and youth;
· there is critical information that lawyers representing children must understand that is different from lawyers representing clients in other contexts; and
· training standards must incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to help lawyers fully understand the child welfare system.
As provided in the report, the “big picture” context for the conversation on child representation is as follows: The Workgroup believes that, foundationally, lawyers must establish trust with their child clients. Lawyers have the confidentiality piece that is rare, but it is important to be able to communicate that to the child. Standards in the report are explicit about the importance of confidentiality and the importance of establishing and maintaining trust. Trust takes quite a bit of time in dealing with children in care and diligence on the part of lawyers is needed in this respect. Finally, lawyers must advocate for their client, which requires knowledge and skills to carry out professional duties.
With regard to the specific questions asked by the legislature:
The Workgroup used the OPD standards for the Parent Representation project as a reference. These standards maintain that lawyers representing children should have no more than 60 individual clients, with the assumption that 60 clients would require 80 proceedings, while allowing room for adjustment.
Lawyers representing children and youth should participate in 40 initial hours of training over three years, with at least ten hours per year to certify that they are receiving adequate training. Furthermore, no more than one-third of training is to be completed via video, webinar or teleconference. The WSBA isn’t in favor of specialized certifications, but judges don’t know who is qualified to represent youth when it comes to appointing someone. So, the Workgroup feels that there ought to be a certificate of completion, which would signal to the court and the community which lawyers have purposefully decided they want to represent youth and are being trained for it.
After the initial 40 hours of training, the Workgroup recommended that individuals who are interested in representing youth receive ten additional hours of training per year. The initial 40 hours is based on the training that CASA provides, but there is additional information to be learned beyond the 40 hours.
In light of the current budget problems, there were questions and discussion about the financial resources available to implement training, in light of the current budget problems. Mr. Tim Jaasko Fisher observed that there are a lot of trainings currently provided across the state, and that someone who is dedicated could obtain the required training with these current offerings.
Rep. Kagi said she didn’t see any reference to the CASA’s. Prof. Kelly said that they were just asked to do standards for lawyers. In part of the report, there is discussion about communicating with the CASA’s. There were two CASA’s who participated in several of the meetings. But the training was focused on lawyers. Justice Bridge noted that the mandate from the statute involves training for attorneys only.
On a motion by Mr. Jim Bamberger and a second by Judge van Doorninck, adoption of the report and transmittal to the AOC for forwarding to the Legislature was approved by the Commission.
National Adoption Day
Judge Dean Lum and Ms. Lorrie Thompson reported on National Adoption Day. Judge Lum distributed the 2010 Washington State National Adoption Day report to Commission members. Judge Lum said that, over the past five years, in Washington State 961 children have been adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day. This year, three new courts were added to the list of courts participating: Jefferson, Grant and Lewis counties. Judge Lum gave kudos to Lorrie Thompson for all the work she does on this event every year.
Ms. Thompson noted that once a court participates in National Adoption Day once, they get hooked and want to do it annually because it is such a positive experience. Not a single court dropped out of participation and the three new courts that joined did so without undue prodding. The media is well aware of National Adoption Day and often covers events. Next year is the tenth anniversary of National Adoption Day activities in King County and so will probably get a lot of media attention. Ms. Thompson said she is beginning to develop a web page on the AOC website devoted to National Adoption Day.
Ms. Revels Robinson said that one thing that is a wonderful visual was the presence of all the family members – uncles, aunts, grandparents. She said it is wonderful to see the children being embraced by the extended families.
Best Practices Workgroup Membership
Justice Bridge said they are still working on organizing this workgroup. Said that they will have a chair before the next meeting. This workgroup relates to developing processes to help cases transition through the court system. Ms. Moore noted that the courts don’t record the outcomes of cases, so it is difficult to track. Another issue is paternity identification, which is done differently in the various counties.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
Mr. Hasset said it will be necessary to wait for the outcome of legislation pertaining to adoption of the Fostering Connections Act, introduced this legislative session. Therefore, the decision as to the focus of a Foster Care Transitions Work Group will be on hold until after the Legislative session. With regard to the Fostering Connections Act, Rep. Roberts informed that a draft proposal has been circulated for comments and a bill will be introduced “cobbling together” funding sources. She added that it was challenging in many ways, particularly with the definition of “what is a child”, and reconnecting with the courts.
Other old business
Justice Bridge said that a report on the recently held Fatherhood Convening was released three days ago and will be distributed to the Commission members. At a future meeting Patrick Dowd and/or Nancy Roberts Brown will be invited to give a full report. There was additional discussion about the event and the things expressed by the fathers about their wish to be engaged more fully in decisions pertaining to their children.
National Reunification Day
Ms. Joanne Moore distributed a handout and reported on the first Reunification Day. She discussed the many counties that sponsored the event in their communities, informing that the event was a very big success in each of the communities where it was celebrated. Next year, National Reunification Day will be extended covering the span of time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
On a motion by Ms. Moore, seconded by Ryan Cummings it was approved that the Commission be a sponsor of next year’s National Reunification Day.
Other New Business
The Night of A Thousand Dreams, an event recognizing social workers, legislators, and others who have worked to assist foster children, will be taking place on January 17 at the Tyee Event Center in Tumwater.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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