Commission on Children in Foster Care
May 23, 2011
Washington State Supreme Court
Commission on Children in Foster Care
May 23, 2011
Justice Bobbe Bridge, (ret.) Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
Mr. Jim Bamberger, Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)
Ms. Beth Canfield, Co-Chair, Foster Parents Association of Washington
Mr. Mike Canfield, Co-Chair, Foster Parents Association of Washington
Mr. Ryan Cummings, Youth in Foster Care
Ms. Chorisia Folkman, NW Intertribal Court System 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
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, Washington State House of Representatives
Members not present:
DSHS Asst. Secretary Ms. Denise Revels Robinson, Commission Co-Chair; Senator James Hargrove;
Judge Laura Inveen; Ms. Barbara James.
Ms. Amanda Bevington, Youth Network; Mr. David Buck, Youth Network; Mr. Rick Coplen, AOC;
Mr. Deonate Cruz, Youth Network; Ms. Alexia Everett, DSHS; Dr. Tom George, AOC; Ms. Juliette Knight, DSHS; Dr. Elizabeth Kohlenberg, DSHS; Dr. Carl McCurley, AOC; Ms. Marna Miller, WA State Institute for Public Policy; Mr. Matthew Orme, AOC; Ms. Brenda Ortega, Youth Network; Ms. Susan Pollack, DSHS;
Ms. Barb Putnam, DSHS; Ms. Mahna Salter, FPAWS; Ms. Janet Skreen, AOC; Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty Ann van Doorninck; Ms. Diamonique Walker, Youth Network; Ms. Tiffany Washington, Mockingbird Society; Ms. Deborah Wilds, College Success Foundation.
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 Commission members and guests, and everyone introduced themselves.
Approval of March 7, 2011 Meeting Minutes
Justice Bridge presented the March 7, 2011, meeting minutes and asked for a motion to approve. A motion was made by Mr. Canfield to approve the minutes without any changes. The motion was seconded by Judge van Doorninck. The May 7, 2011, meeting minutes were approved unanimously.
Integrated Case Management
Dr. Elizabeth Kohlenberg, Ph.D., Director of Research and Data Analysis, Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Commission regarding the recently inaugurated Integrated Case Management (ICM) pilot project, and provided Commission members with a handout titled “Integrated Case Management (ICM) for Youth and Families Involved in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice.” Dr. Kohlenberg’s discussion included what the goals of the project are, which groups of youth and families are being served, and where the project is taking place.
The goals of ICM for youth and family include: health and wellness, safe and stable housing, job readiness and stable employment, life skills acquisition and generalization, educational attendance and completion, safe and stable in-home care (if possible), seamless transitions from out-of-home placements, stable and safe families, and safe health communities to include natural supports. The system goals include: removing barriers that inhibit services, maximizing funding through shared resources, streamlining services to create efficiencies that reduce duplication of work and services, and seamless case management to provide holistic care for youth and families.
The groups of youth and families served are youth (aged 7 to 17) and young adults (aged 18 to 21) and their families, who have a history of child abuse and/or neglect and have current juvenile or criminal justice involvement, or have developmental disabilities and current public safety behavioral issues. The project is taking place in Skagit County, the City of Tacoma, Thurston County, and Okanogan County.
Dr. Kohlenberg also went through the guiding principles of the project and shared data on the youth and their families. Justice Bridge explained this data is for the purpose of determining which children and families will receive the integrated case management services. Justice Bridge said this is the beginning of a long conversation the Commission will have on this topic. More information will be forthcoming about it in the future.
Culture of Foster Care Training (Part I)
Ms. Tiffany Washington of the Mockingbird Society gave Commission members a brief overview of the Mockingbird Network, and said there are approximately 345 youth across the state that are involved in the Mockingbird Network, with Network Chapters in Everett, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Yakima. She then explained how the Culture of Foster Care Trainings got started, and said the trainings are taking place all across the United States.
Foster alumni discovered, by talking to one another, that many of them have had similar experiences in foster care. This surprised them, and made them realize they weren’t alone or that different from others. Out of that, the Culture of Foster Care Training eventually evolved, and the purpose of the training is to help people understand what it is like to be in foster care.
The Culture of Foster Care Training is a total of two hours long, and it has two parts. Part I of the training was presented to the Commission today. Part I consisted of three different exercises presented by the following facilitators: #1) Ms. Amanda Bevington, #2) Mr. Deonate Cruz, and #3) Mr. David Buck, and was conducted as follows:
Exercise #1: Facilitated by Ms. Amanda Bevington
The first exercise was based on the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” It involved having one of the Commission members being blindfolded and being given a paper “tail,” with the goal in mind that they needed to “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” A picture of a donkey was placed in one part of the room, and it was the job of everyone else in the room to direct the blindfolded person towards the donkey—to ultimately “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Mr. Ron Hertel volunteered to be blindfolded, and the meeting attendees took turns telling him how many steps, in the direction of the donkey, to take. The catch, however, was that each time Mr. Hertel got close to the donkey, Ms. Bevington would move the donkey to another part of the room. This went on several different times, with the donkey being moved each time he got near it, until Mr. Hertel finally reached the donkey and was able to place the tail on it. Participants where then asked for their feedback.
Feedback/Feelings/Lessons Learned During the Exercise included:
Exercise #2: Facilitated by Mr. Deonate Cruz
In the second exercise, Mr. Cruz made sure everyone had a few post-it notes. Then he asked people to think about something they couldn’t live without—something very precious to them (i.e., a special doll, sentimental item, etc.). Then he asked them to write that on a post-it note. He asked for a couple volunteers to share what they had written. Then he asked people to crumple up their post-it notes, place it in the plastic bag they were given, and write their name on the plastic bag. Then he asked them to take off all their jewelry, wallets, cell phones, and everything else of any value on them, and to put those in the bag too. They were then asked to give away their bag. Once everyone gave their bag away, the group settled down and there was a moment of pause. Mr. Cruz then told them, “You have just entered foster care.” Mr. Cruz then asked everyone some questions, and their feedback included the following:
How do you think this activity resembles the differences between kids with parents and kids in the foster care system?
More Feedback/Other Takeaways
Ms. Tiffany Washington then stated that with all this in mind, there are things we can do as advocates in the foster care system to be proactive for the children. She also clarified that even if you ask, it can never be easy, but our hope is to make it easier for the children than it is.
Exercise #3: Facilitated by Mr. David Buck
Mr. David Buck asked everyone to think of a moment in their lives that they wish they could forget forever. He called it a “Vegas Moment” and said he is talking about something so embarrassing that you wouldn’t want anyone to ever know about it, ever (i.e., the type of thing that could end careers, marriages, etc). He then asked everyone to write down on a post-it note whatever that moment was for them. After everyone did that, he asked them to think about what they were holding in their hands (and again reminded them, these are the sorts of things that could ruin marriages, end careers, etc.). Then he asked them to crumple up their post-it note, and he went around the room and collected all of them together in one plastic bag. He then shook up the bag, and he walked around the room passing out one crumpled post-it note to each person. He asked everyone not to unfold their post-it note, but rather to just hold it out in front of them in the palm of their hand. He then asked them to really think about what they were holding. Then he asked the group, “Why would I make you do this?” Their feedback included:
Mr. Buck then said there is a word for what they are describing—it’s called, “The Case File.” He talked about what it is often like for foster youth to grow up with a case file following them around to different foster homes, and how it often gets to their next foster home before the foster parents ever meet the child or talk to them. He explained the problem with a case file is that it usually describes everything the child has ever done wrong—and doesn’t necessarily reflect why they did those things, who that child really is, the positive aspects of that child, or the full picture of that child’s life/situation. He said, rather, it’s often the staff’s “interpretation” of who the child is, and yet the new foster parents now have this preconceived, often inaccurate, notion of who they think the child is, right from the very beginning. He therefore encouraged the Commission members and others working with foster kids to be very careful about what they write in the case files, because if they aren’t, it could have a seriously negative impact on a child. He said that case files are necessary, but it’s very important that the writer knows the impact of what they are writing.
The Commission applauded the youth and thanked them for their presentations. Part II of the Culture of Foster Care Training is to be presented at the September Commission meeting.
Educational Success Strategy for Washington State’s Youth in Care and Alumni
Dr. Deborah Wilds, of College Success Foundation, briefly introduced the presentation. She explained its purpose was to give the Commission a high overview of the educational strategy developed between College Success Foundation and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), to give background of how and why they developed the strategy, and to identify for the Commission where their leadership has been instrumental in creating a more seamless way of supporting foster youth and alumni in terms of the educational success. Ms. Juliet Knight, of DSHS, then gave some background information and highlights on the work Children’s Administration (CA) has done over the last few years. Ms. Barb Putnam, of DSHS, followed that up with information on the genesis of the report that they passed out to Commission members, An Education Success Strategy for Washington State’s Youth in Care and Alumni March 2011.
It was explained that, based on a charge given by Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson, a workgroup was formed to develop a state education framework for youth and alumni of care. They worked from July – November 2010, looking at what’s been done in the state of Washington that’s relevant to improving educational outcomes for youth in care, with the hope of putting together a strategy that could be a comprehensive strategy from the perspective of multiple entities. The March 2011 Report resulted from that process. They are now looking for partners to help implement these strategies.
The March 2011 Report recommendations target three areas, which they feel are extremely important:
(1) stability; (2) educational quality; and (3) interagency collaboration, coordination, and communication; as well as the following subtopics:
§ Securing the most appropriate and best possible education placement
§ Educational records follow students’ school placement
§ Integrating community and educational services
Successful Educational Experience
§ Appropriate classification of learning needs
§ Low rates of out of class time
§ Quality education services
§ Academic progress
§ Smooth post care education transitions
Interagency Collaboration, Coordination and Communication
§ Data Sharing/Infrastructure/Confidentiality
§ Common understanding and training across agencies
§ Advocates for youth
Ms. Putnam and Ms. Knight talked about those target areas in detail, generating questions and discussion from the group. They also talked about CA’s next step and proposed a potential leadership role in that for the Commission. Specifically, they would like the Commission to consider assisting in moving this forward in the following areas:
1) Clarify and outline the process for “best interest” decision-making between social worker, school, caregiver, biological parent, and any other identified adult regarding school placement decisions.
2) Develop an educational stability training, based on the Washington State Judicial Checklist and the ABA Judicial Checklist, for Juvenile and Dependency Courts so judges have the tools and information they need to address education comprehensively at each meeting.
3) Replicate or expand RCW 74.13.560 within the education system to mirror the current child welfare expectations regarding educational outcomes of foster youth (in compliance with SHB 1058).
4) Ensure that dependency matters are not dismissed until a safe and viable transition plan has been identified for all youth reaching age 18.
Justice Bridge suggested that members read the materials they’ve been given on this topic before the next Commission meeting, and in the meantime they should direct any questions they have to the contact people. In addition, Justice Bridge will add the topic of this potential Commission leadership role to the September meeting agenda for further discussion.
WSCCR Timeliness Report
Dr. Carl McCurley, Manager of the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) at the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) introduced himself and his WSCCR colleagues, Dr. Tom George and Mr. Matt Orme—the newest member of the WSCCR who came from Children’s Administration (CA) and is very familiar with the data systems within the CA.
Dr. McCurley then gave an introduction to this year’s Timeliness of Dependency Case Processing in Washington State 2010 Annual Report, which is the 4th edition of the report. He provided an overview of this year’s objectives, which include two additional outcomes: (1) contact with court on delinquency and (2) high school educational outcomes for three groups: kids who achieve permanency through (1) adoption, (2) aging out, and (3) reunification. He said they also look forward to making this report more informative in the future, and increasing information sharing, providing more timely information for the courts, CA, Attorney General’s Office (AGO), and other participants in the process.
Dr. Tom George then discussed the six timelines and objectives of this year’s report and went over the findings. The findings include: Objective 1: Percentage of cases with fact-finding within 75 days has increased substantially over the last two years, and the median number of days to fact finding improved. Objective 2: Review hearings are going well—94% within the first six months. Objective 3: Permanency planning hearings within 12 months is now mandatory, and almost 90 percent now happen within the first 12 months (which is up substantially), and length of time has decreased to 10 months. Objective 4: Thirty-one percent achieved permanency within 15 months, adoptions achieved in 2-3 years, and 62 percent are meeting the 15-month permanency goal. Objective 5: Median number of out-of-home months to TPR petition decreased to 13.8 months. Objective 6: Percentage of cases with adoption completed within six months of termination order increased to 29 percent, and the median number of months from termination order to adoption completion decreased to 9 percent.
Dr. McCurley, Dr. George and Mr. Orme, addressed Commission members’ questions and concerns about the findings, and members were also directed to Appendices at the end of the report. In closing,
Dr. George reiterated how well we can do when the courts and other system actors work together to achieve common goals.
Decision-Maker Summit Progress Report
Justice Bridge announced that this will be Joseph Timmons’ last Commission meeting. His internship/work for the Commission is ending, and he is graduating with his Masters in Public Administration on June 10.
Justice Bridge reminded everyone that during Mr. Timmons’ internship with the Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ), a large part of his work for the Commission was collecting data for the Decision-Maker Summits Progress Report. Therefore, this being his last Commission meeting, Mr. Timmons gave Commission members an overview of the Decision-Maker Summits Report, including the purpose for the Report, what progress has been made, and what progress still needs to be made.
Mr. Timmons reminded the Commission members of the background of the Decision-Maker Summits, including that the Summits and Child Welfare Resource Data Bank were part of CCYJ’s inaugural work, and that three Summits were held in Olympia during October and November 2009 focusing on the following categories of recommendations from the Data Bank: 1) Funding & Agency Organization, 2) Adolescents, and 3) Court Processes. Decision-makers were brought together at those Summits, from all three branches of state government, to review the previous recommendations and to plan for prioritization and implementation of the unfinished recommendations. As a result of the Summits, over 60 commitments to reform the child welfare system were made, and the Commission on Children in Foster Care was designated as the oversight body for those commitments.
Mr. Timmons said, based on the data he collected during the last year regarding those commitments, the following progress was made:
· 79.4% Reported Complete/Partially Complete and In Progress (50)
· 20.6% Reported No Substantial Progress (13)
Of those Commitments with Progress:
· 48% Are Completed (24)
· 52% Are Partially Completed and In Progress (26)
Overview of Commitment Progress:
· 38.1% Are Completed (24)
· 41.3% Are Partially Complete and In Progress (26)
· 20.6% Had No Substantial Progress (13)
Mr. Timmons then took members through the “Levels of Commitment by Summit Category,” as follows:
Funding and Agency Organization Summit Commitments (11 Total)
· 6 Complete
· 3 Partially Complete/In Progress
· 2 No Progress Substantial Reported
Adolescents Summit Commitments (21 Total)
· 12 Complete
· 9 Partially Complete/In Progress
· 0 No Substantial Progress Reported
Court Processes Summit Commitments (31 Total)
· 6 Complete
· 14 Partially Complete/In Progress
· 11 No Substantial Progress Reported
He then discussed some of the barriers to commitment completion, which include:
· Financial Constraints and Budget Difficulties
· Future Process of 2106 Performance Based Contracting
· Not Clarified in Report/Reasons Specific to the Commitment
Mr. Timmons then shared some examples of successful commitments, and concluded that, (1) there is still work to be done, but substantial progress has been made regarding the Summit commitments during the last year and a half, and (2) the Decision-Maker Summits established communication and encouraged collaboration to successfully address recommendations from CCYJ’s Child Welfare Resource Data Bank.
The Commission applauded Mr. Timmons for his work on this project. Justice Bridge also said he has been helping to recruit his successor, and they currently have two great candidates—who are both Evans School students as well. Justice Bridge said she and Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson will be interviewing them during the next couple weeks, and they should have a new intern to staff the Commission again soon.
QIC Project on Representation of Children in Child Welfare System
Justice Bridge reminded Commission members of the opportunity she had mentioned at the last meeting, in which Washington State had been invited to be a part of a national study with the University of Michigan Law School. The study involves the representation of youth in the child welfare system (assessing youth with lawyers trained on best practices in representing youth in the dependency process with those who are not, as well as comparing outcomes of youth with lawyers vs. youth without lawyers), and is being funded by the federal Children’s Bureau.
Justice Bridge said that everyone involved has been working very hard to make this project happen. Thanks to all of them—including Jim Bamberger, Joanne Moore, Dr. Carl McCurley, Tim Jaasko-Fisher, Lisa Kelly of the University of Washington Law School, and Gina Cumbo and Hathaway Burden of CCYJ—we were selected to receive the contract. The state of Washington, through the Commission, will receive a grant in the amount of $250K, for each of the next four years, to do this work.
Justice Bridge explained that the Commission’s role will be to have general oversight for the progress, both studies in Washington. She said she and Jim will be on the front lines initially—recruiting the lawyers to participate in the study, visiting various courts and explaining how the study will work, etc.—and that will be going on this summer and into fall. She said that more details will be given at the September meeting, but some additional information, may be available before the next meeting.
Best Practices Workgroup Membership
Justice Bridge announced that the Best Practices Workgroup is having their inaugural meeting immediately following today’s Commission meeting in the Chief Justice’s Reception Room. The Workgroup is chaired by Judge Anne Hirsch from Thurston County.
Next Meeting/Future Meetings
The date for the next meeting is Wednesday, June 29 2011, 10:00 a.m., at the Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit, Seattle University Campus. Future 2011 meetings are on September 19 and December 19, at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s Reception Room.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Susan Peterson, AOC
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|