Commission on Children in Foster Care
March 7, 2011
Justice Bobbe Bridge, (ret.) Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
DSHS Asst. Secretary Ms. Denise Revels Robinson, Commission Co-Chair
Mr. Mike Canfield, Co-Chair, Foster Parents Association of Washington
Ms. Chori Folkman, Tribal Representative
Mr. Michael Griesedieck, Attorney General’s Office
Mr. Ron Hertel, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Ms. Jeannie Kee, Foster Youth Alumnus
Ms. Joanne Moore, Director, Office of Public Defense
Members not present:
Mr. Jim Bamberger, Ms. Beth Canfield; Senator Hargrove; Rep. Ruth Kagi; Ms. Barbara James; Judge Steve Warning
Ms. Tammy Cordova, DSHS; Ms. Trisha Keenan-Wilkie, DSHS; Mr. Tim Jaasko-Fisher; Janet McLane, AOC; Ms. Deborah Purce, DSHS; Ms. Nancy Raiha, DSHS; Mr. Chris Ruhl, AOC; Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty Ann van Doorninck ; Ms. Tiffany Washington, Mockingbird Society
Ms. Susan Peterson, Administrative Office of the Courts
Mr. Joseph Timmons, Intern, CCYJ
Staff not present:
Mr. Michael Curtis, Executive Director
Call to Order:
Justice Bridge called the meeting to order.
Welcome and Introductions:
Justice Bridge welcomed the group and asked everyone to introduce themselves. Susan Peterson was welcomed to her first Commission meeting and was introduced to the Commission as their new administrative support staff person assuming the duties of Karen Castillo. Ron Hertel was welcomed back to the Commission. He will be replacing Annie Blackwell’s as the OSPI representative on the Commission.
Approval of December 20, 2010 Meeting Minutes
Justice Bridge presented the meeting minutes of December 20, 2010. The following two amendments were proposed:
· The last sentence in the third paragraph on page 3 should read “He added that improved training would improve foster parenting.” This sentence currently says “she” when referring to Mr. Canfield.
· The second sentence in the Caseloads Standards section on page 4 should accurately read as follows: “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.”
A Motion to approve the minutes as amended was made by Judge van Doorninck. The motion was seconded by Ms. Moore. The December 20, 2010, Meeting Minutes draft as amended was approved unanimously.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Updates
National Social Work Month 2011
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson advised the group that March 2011 is National Social Work Month. She reported that Children’s Administration is celebrating the month and is very proud to have the month acknowledging the work of social worker. A motion was made by Judge van Doorninck to recognize National Social Work Month. The motion was seconded by Mr. Canfield. The motion was agreed upon unanimously that:
The Commission on Children in Foster Care observes and supports March 2011 as National Social Work Month and acknowledges the hard work and dedication of Washington State’s child welfare social workers.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson discussed the memo she sent out to Children’s Administration, recognizing and honoring social workers in the Children’s Administration. She very much wants to thank them for the work they do in public service, and acknowledges the respect they deserve in their profession. Ms. Peterson will send a copy of the memo to all the Commission members.
Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) Oversight/Program Improvement Plan
Ms. Deborah Purce provided an update on the CFSR. The CFSR Report is taking longer than they anticipated to complete, but should ultimately yield a better report. DSHS has asked the federal government to use 2009 (FamLink), instead of 2008 (CAMAS) data. Ms. Purce reported that it is important to have FamLink data reflected in the report because the most recent data from FamLink will demonstrate that Washington meets five of the six federal standards. In addition, there are seven systemic measures, and with that preliminary data they appear to meet five of those measures.
The CFSR process is allowing DSHS to learn what they need to have in the Program Improvement Plan (PIP), and DSHS hopes to be able to focus more directly and effectively on the things that need improvement in the PIP. Ms. Purce commented that they know their Service Array issues are one thing they will have to look at, as well as consistency. They are currently doing preliminary work on the PIP. DSHS learned from talking to their federal partners that some of the areas needing improvement are also areas of major initiatives at this point. They are learning how they can interface that work, which is important during the current budget situation. Ms. Purce mentioned that DSHS is excited about the final report and their work around the PIP. They hope to complete the final report and be able to share it at the next CCFC meeting in May.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson added that the preliminary findings reveal that their federal partners know Washington State has made tremendous progress since the last CFSR in 2003, and the inclusiveness and diversity of our program helped influence the state assessment. She also believes Washington State was the only state to have three judges, one in every area—on every site location—where there was a case to be reviewed, which is considered very positive. Tribal input and judicial input have provided a balance, and they are striving to keep all partners involved. On March 10 they have a meeting scheduled with tribal leaders to provide the same information that was provided during the January 18 symposium to tribal representatives.
Ms. Tammy Cordova provided an update on the 2106 Implementation, specifically performance-based contracting. Ms. Cordova said the purpose of performance-based contracting is to reduce and consolidate their contracts through regionally-based (locally-focused) agencies in order to increase accountability for services provided, to provide a broad array of quality services available to children, to increase access and availability of culturally-competent services no matter where children live, and to improve outcomes.
A draft RFP was released in November 2010, and it generated 1300 comments. Adjustments were made to the RFP based on the comments, and the following significant changes made between the original draft and the final RFP included:
The final RFP was released on February 18, 2011, and a quick overview of the upcoming RFP timeline is as follows:
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson asked the Commission for individuals without a conflict of interest to help review proposals. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson requested that those interested in participating in the proposal process be in contact in the next two weeks.
DSHS Accountability/Performance Measurement
Ms. Nancy Raiha presented the Core Metrics web page, located on the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) web site at: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/ppa/coremetrics.shtml.
This is the first time DSHS has published this set of Core Metrics on the Internet. DSHS Secretary, Susan Dreyfus, believes that this large department is one department, with one vision, which can be found under “Framework for the Future” at http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/EA/DSHSframework.pdf. The web page is updated as needed, at least annually.
Fostering Connections Act Implementation
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said at least 20 children are now with relatives who are licensed foster parents and have achieved permanency plans. The court has dismissed the dependencies for those children, and they are at permanency. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson hopes to do a more in-depth discussion about the Fostering Connections Act at a later date, particularly the part about the new subsidized guardianship program for relatives.
Integrated Case Management Pilot Project
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said this is a presentation that she and John Clayton will do together at a later date.
2010 and 2011 Supplemental Budgets
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she wants to do a more in-depth presentation about this at a later meeting, so she will send out a copy of today’s budget information electronically.
2011-2013 Biennial Budget
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she wants to do a more in-depth presentation about this at a later meeting, so she will electronically send out a copy of today’s budget information.
DSHS Regional Consolidation
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson reported that DSHS is reducing its number of statewide regions from 6 to 3, as follows:
Neither Deputies nor Area Administrators are proposed for elimination; those positions will need to work differently. The regional consolidation will affect 19 departmental positions and will have some budget impact. There are five positions specifically affected in the Children’s Administration.
Foster Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit
Ms. Tiffany Washington of the Mockingbird Network reported on the upcoming Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit. She discussed the history of how the Summit began, how it has evolved, and the Summit goals.
Ms. Washington said the focus of the Mockingbird Network is on leadership development, community engagement, and systems reform. She said the Network is made up of youth from around the state that are involved in Chapters working together on policy goals. Ms. Washington also mentioned that each year 10 youth from each DSHS Region attend the Summit, for a total of 60 youth attendees/presenters.
Ms. Washington noted that the Network has evolved over the years to become what it is today. She emphasized that the Network began with a recommendation from the Commission on Children in Foster Care. The current sponsors of the Summit are Casey Family Programs, the Center for Children & Youth Justice, the Children’s Administration, the Commission on Children in Foster Care, and the Mockingbird Society. Ms. Washington added that it is important to the sponsors and partners that the Summit does not become an advocacy event, rather, the Summit should focus upon systems improvement based on recommendations presented by the youth attendees.
This year will be the 6th Annual Foster Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit. The Summit is expanding this year from 2 days to 3 days, and will take place on June 27-29, 2011, at Seattle University. The first two days of the Summit will be dedicated to workshops for the youth. On Wednesday, June 29, Commission members are invited to breakfast at 9:00 a.m., followed by a Commissioner’s meeting forum. Justice Bridge strongly encouraged all Commission members to attend the presentation at the Summit on June 29, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; although, Commission members are invited to attend all three days if they are able.
Ms. Washington said the youth have asked that the Commission ask questions and provide feedback to their recommendations, and she encouraged Commission members to do so. To that end, the youth presenters will provide Commission members a one-page document that summarizes their requested reforms and their rationale behind the request. This document will be provided two weeks in advance to the Summit so that Commission members have time to review the document in order to become prepared to ask questions during the Summit presentations. Youth have emphasized that they hope to learn real world skills from their participation in the Summit, and that they desire to be challenged with questions and feedback so that they can develop professional skills. Thus, the youth hope that providing one-page documents to Commission members two weeks in advance will create richer discussion and encourage positive critical feedback during the Summit.
Mockingbird Society is currently working to help implement recommendations from the 2010 Summit. Ms. Washington showed a one-minute Leadership Summit video to members, and asked that anyone who wants a copy of the video please let her know. The video is also online at: http://www.mockingbirdsociety.org/the-mockingbird-network/leadership-summit/.
Ms. Washington mentioned that Rick Butt from Children’s Administration (CA) has been a big help in planning the Summit each year, and she appreciates his involvement. Ms. Washington mentioned that she, along with Jeannie Kee and Rick Butt are working together on getting Passion to Action more involved. Also, Jeannie Kee is planning to be the Passion to Action liaison to the Commission because she is currently an advisor to the Network Leadership Council.
It was suggested that it would be good to have an additional table available at the Summit for older foster care alumni to attend; Ms. Washington agreed and said Mockingbird could do meet that request. It was also suggested it would be good if people could give feedback of what that they have done or what happened since the last Summit; Ms. Washington agreed and said they were considering doing something like that during the breakfast at 9:00 a.m.
Justice Bridge reminded the members to put June 29, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., at Seattle University on their calendars. She also encouraged Commission member attendees representing others to ask their principals to go as well, as this is a special meeting.
Child Welfare Decision-Makers Summit Oversight
Mr. Joseph Timmons presented the most recent Decision-Maker Summit Progress Report. He discussed the report and reminded members that it is updated quarterly. He explained that the underlined information is new information. He thanked members for their responses. He also asked members to contact him if they have any questions or feedback about the report that they would like to offer.
Justice Bridge also announced that Mr. Timmons’ last official Commission meeting will be the meeting on May 23, and that soon thereafter his work study commitment/internship will end. She hopes he will still be able to attend the Foster Youth & Alumni Leadership Summit in June, and she asked Mr. Timmons to give an oral summary of the Decision-Maker Summit progress report during the May Commission meeting.
Dependent Youth Interviews /Project
Janet McLane reported on the ESSB 6792 pilot program, and presented a hard copy of the “Dependent Youth Interview Pilot Program, Final Report to the Legislature, December 2010” to the Commission.
The pilot program was established in 2008 pursuant to ESSB 6792. The Legislature mandated the creation of pilot sites to implement an approach to give notice and encourage dependent youth 12 years or older to participate in hearings that involved them and to let them have a voice, including having one-on-one time between the youth and the judge. The qualified youth were given the right to (1) be notified of hearings and dependency proceedings that involved them, (2) to be present at those hearings/proceedings, and (3) to be personally heard. They were also given the right to have what the statute called an “in-chambers interview,” that would give youth an opportunity to speak privately with the judge.
Five counties were selected for the pilot program: Thurston, Spokane, King, and Benton/Franklin. Twelve judges within those counties were involved in the planning and embraced the project actively and enthusiastically, as did representatives from the Department. Ms. McLane said the objective of the study was necessarily narrow and intentionally did not look at the long-term implications and impacts of increased youth participation. Ms. McLane noted that there are currently no opportunities measure long-term impact; therefore, there is future research to be done. Ms. McLane discussed the following significant key findings of the study, which are located under the “Summary of Key Findings” in the Final Report:
The Commission and Ms. McLane discussed the findings, and some relevant takeaways regarding the findings included:
Justice Bridge followed up the presentation by addressing the issue of future research, noted under “Future Research” at the end of the Final Report. She said that Washington has been invited to participate in a national study with the University of Michigan, regarding studying the representation of youth in foster care (looking at the outcomes of youth with vs. youth without lawyers). The study will be four years long. There is a short timeline for signing on but it could be a great opportunity.
A motion was made by Judge van Doorninck for the Commission to support this study. The motion was seconded by Ms. Moore. The Commission voted unanimously to support this study.
Parent Representation Program Evaluation
Ms. Joanne Moore discussed the newest study, which is the sixth evaluation, of the Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) Parents Representation Program (PRP), this are conducted by Mark Courtney, Ph.D., Partner’s for Our Children. Ms. Moore also presented two handouts: “Washington’s Parents Representation Program, February 2011” and “Washington State Office of Public Defense Comments on the Parents Representation Program and Earlier Permanency.” The first handout is an abbreviated summary of the study, and the second handout includes comments from the OPD.
The PRP started as a pilot in 2000. It was successful and is now operating in two-thirds of Washington’s counties. The study followed 12,104 children who entered out-of-home care for the first time in 2004 to 2007, though the end of 2008. Ms. Moore summarized the OPD’s comments, and said the OPD is very happy with the results of the evaluation. The message is that lawyer representation makes a big difference in these cases, for process, timeliness, and outcomes. In addition, one main policy implication is that Washington should extend PRP to all counties.
A motion was made by Ms. Folkman to formally endorse Mark Courtney’s study of the Parents Representation Program & its recommendations. The motion was seconded by Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson. The Commission voted unanimously.
Court Improvement Training Academy Status Report
Mr. Jaasko-Fisher reported that during the last federal fiscal year CITA conducted over 40 trainings across Washington, either directly or in partnership with other entities. CITA wants training to be widely available to all child welfare professionals, and to date they have a listserv with almost 400 people subscribing to it. In addition, the CITA web site receives approximately 50 visits per day. They also have a second listserv with about 270 subscribers which is a sounding board for research in child welfare.
As of last year, CITA took over responsibility for facilitating the Reasonable Efforts Symposia (RES), and they are expecting to conduct eight symposia this coming year. Last year there were seven RES, and those generated over 50 local Action Plans that called for improvement in various aspects of the court/child welfare systems in the six DSHS Regions around the state. The CITA is also working on being more involved in those Action Plans.
The CITA is mainly funded through the federally-funded Court Improvement Program Training Grant through the Administrative Office of the Courts. One exception is the contract they have with Children’s Administration and Partners for our Children to train on solution-based casework (an evidence-based way to do social work) in 10 counties. In addition, CITA established nine “Tables of Ten” (working with 10 leaders within a community/county on child welfare), and seven of those are currently running strong and producing good work. Many of the Tables of Ten have been engaged now for a year-and-a-half to two years, and many good relationships have been established around the Tables. Mr. Jaasko-Fisher anticipates this coming year will be very similar to last year in terms of CITA progress.
There was good feedback given and questions asked by Commission members. Help is needed to take existing trainings on standards of representation of children and make them available statewide. It was asked if Tables of Ten include service providers, and Mr. Jaasko-Fisher said, “They can.” It was noted, the training landscape will change in the next year, partly due to change to performance-based contracting in July and implementation of 2106 (contracting out of different service providers). The efforts to set up a Table of Ten at the Tulalip Tribe were also applauded. Mr. Jaasko-Fisher thanked the members for their encouraging feedback and suggestions.
Best Practices Workgroup Membership
Justice Bridge announced that the Best Practices Workgroup now has a chair, Judge Anne Hirsch from Thurston County. Judge Hirsch will be working with Joanne Moore, as well as Justice Bridge and Joseph Timmons on the parameters of the Workgroup. This Workgroup will be focused on Best Practices in the Courts, particularly focusing on the “early end” and what we can do to process cases more quickly. Justice Bridge asked Commission members to let them know if they are interested, or if they have people they would like them to recruit as members for the Workgroup.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
Justice Bridge asked that the Commission keep it on the agenda for the next meeting.
Discussion: Annual Timeliness Study Preliminary Findings (Note: a full report on the study will be made by WSCCR during the Commission’s May meeting.)
A handout highlighting the Court Improvement Program’s 2011 grant awards and 2010 dependency court performance was distributed to members as an FYI. There was a significant increase (30%) in dependency filings in 2010, but the overall trends were positive. The full Annual Dependency Timeliness Report was delayed due to some FamLink data cleanup, and it will be presented at the next Commission meeting.
Other New Business
Jeannie Kee suggested that a “Culture of Foster Care” training be provided during the May Commission meeting and Mr. Timmons was instructed to place the training on the meeting agenda.
Justice Bridge reminded the members to put June 29, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., at Seattle University on their calendars.
The date for the next meeting is May 23, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. in the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s Reception Room.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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