Commission on Children in Foster Care
September 19, 2011
Washington State Supreme Court
Washington State Supreme Court
Justice Bobbe Bridge, (ret.) Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson, DSHS Children’s Administration, Commission Co-Chair
Mr. Jim Bamberger, Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)
Mr. Mike Canfield, Co-Chair, Foster Parents Association of Washington
Ms. Chorisia Folkman, NW Intertribal Court System Representative
Ms. Carrie Wayno, Attorney General’s Office
Mr. Ron Hertel, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Ms. Joanne Moore, Director, Office of Public Defense
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, Washington State House of Representatives
Members not present:
Ms. Beth Canfield; Mr. Ryan Cummings; Senator James Hargrove; Ms. Barbara James; Ms. Jeannie Kee; Judge Laura Inveen
Ms. Stevie Atkins, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Elizabeth Whitney Barnes, NCJFCJ; Ms. Asha Boucree, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Hathaway Burden, CCYJ; Mr. Rick Coplen, AOC; Ms. Jann Hoppler, DSHS; Mr. Fredrick Kingston, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Laurie Lippold, Children’s Home Society of Washington; Judge Dean S. Lum, King County Superior Court; Ms. Sarah Mahaffy, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Brenda Ortega, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Barb Putnam, DSHS; Mr. Sean Reynolds, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Tammy Soderberg, The Mockingbird Society; Dr. Alicia Summers, NCJFCJ; Ms. Lorrie Thompson, AOC; Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck, Pierce County Superior Court; Ms. Diamonique Walker, The Mockingbird Society; Ms. Jennifer Zipoy, AOC.
Ms. Courtney Millan, CCFC Intern, CCYJ
Ms. Susan Peterson, Administrative Office of the Courts
Staff not present:
Mr. Michael Curtis, Executive Director
Call to Order:
Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson called the meeting to order.
Welcome and Introductions:
Ms. Revels Robinson welcomed Commission members and guests, and everyone introduced themselves.
Approval of May 23, 2011 Meeting Minutes
Ms. Revels Robinson presented the May 23, 2011, meeting minutes and asked for a motion to approve. Judge van Doorninck moved to approve the minutes without any changes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Canfield. The May 23, 2011, meeting minutes were approved unanimously.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Updates
Federal Program Improvement Plan
Ms. Jann Hoppler from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)/Children’s Administration (CA), gave an update on the Washington State Program Improvement Plan (PIP). She distributed the current draft of the PIP to Commission members and explained what changes have been made since the previous draft. They are currently addressing the comments they received from their federal partners and hope to move into the “improvement period” soon. The current plan requires that they report back over the course of eight calendar quarters in the 2 years beginning at the approval of PIP.
Ms. Revels Robinson said the PIP focuses on keeping children safe, and timely permanence and it reflects the work that has been going on around Washington State and the multiple partnerships across systems. She noted that as Commission members look through the PIP, they will likely see themselves within it. If Commission members have questions about the PIP, they can contact Ms. Hoppler.
Justice Bridge asked what the challenges have been in reaching the final PIP. Ms. Hoppler said they have included discussion regarding safety, details, timeframes, training, quality assurance/improvement, data streams, and how they will continue to monitor themselves and improve even after the two year period.
Educational Success Strategy for Washington State’s Youth in Care and Alumni follow-up Discussion
Ms. Barb Putnam, DSHS/CA, returned to answer any questions Commission members may have since their last presentation on the Educational Success Strategy at the May 23rd Commission meeting.
She began by explaining the purpose of the report. It started with stakeholder meetings over the course of roughly 8 weeks to develop a framework for Washington State around educational needs of children in foster care. Thirty-five recommendations that came out of the workgroup, three were chosen as priorities:
1. Use a Standardized Form: This has been put on hold because in July DSHS applied for an educational stability infrastructure grant from the federal government in the amount of $250,000and are waiting to see if they are a recipient. They should know by the end of October.
2. Look at the Judicial Checklist: This is to see if it needs to be revised and if more training is needed. They are working with Ms. Janet Skreen at the Court Improvement Project. This is scheduled for early next year, and they are considering a webinar model as a way to refresh the judiciary about what the checklist is and how to best use it.
3. Update the Social Worker Guide for Youth Transitioning from Care: This is to help social workers really focus in on high school graduation requirements, college requirements, and multiple pathways and options for post-secondary success. This is to help structure and support what youth need to graduate and to get them on a trajectory of post-secondary options.
Rep. Roberts asked if they had looked into the data with regard to suspensions and expulsions. Ms. Putnam said she doesn’t think so. It was a Braam measure, and the data systems are not great around that, so they used Treehouse data from their small window about suspensions. They are, however, taking a look at unexcused absences at this time, and trying to develop a measure that would give them more information about unexcused absences.
Justice Bridge mentioned there is information about unexcused absences available at the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), and she suggested Ms. Putnam contact Dr. Carl McCurley at the AOC, Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR), for more information. Ms. Elizabeth Whitney Barnes said the 2009 National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) have an education checklist which was updated in 2009.
Culture of Foster Care Training (Part II)
Mr. Frederick Kingston, Youth Network Coordinator for the Mockingbird Society, introduced himself to the group, and then he asked everyone in the room introduce themselves and what their relationship is to the Commission. Mr. Kingston then gave a quick overview of the Mockingbird Youth Network, the definition of the Culture of Foster Care, and their mission. He then gave a brief recap of the previous training, Culture of Foster Care Training (Part I),which was presented at the last Commission meeting on May 23.
Exercise #4: “Disparity Walk” facilitated by Ms. Diamonique Walker
Ms. Diamonique Walker led all the meeting attendees out of the meeting room down to the center of the Temple. She then asked for five volunteers, which included: Mr. Ron Hertel, Ms. Joanne Moore, Mr. Mike Canfield, Mr. Jim Bamberger and Ms. Elizabeth Whitney Barnes. They each took a profile card from Ms. Walker and then were asked to walk forward or backwards according to who they were on the card and in response to a series of life situational questions presented by Ms. Walker. By the end of the questions, three people were up at the front of the room, and two were at the back, showing how some foster care youth succeed and others are left behind.
From this activity, Commission members learned that the following could all come into play:
The meeting attendees then returned to the meeting room and Mr. Kingston briefly summarized the activity. He pointed out that (1) outcomes and tracking and how those outcomes evolve for individual youth in care are complex—it’s hard to know what’s going to happen ahead of time, and (2) there are trends, and if we can work to understand those trends, we can help make the child welfare system better.
Exercise #5: DVD Narrative of Youth in Foster Care in Canada and the United States
Due to technical difficulties, Mr. Kingston was unable to play the DVD narrative of a Canadian youth talking about trauma, loss, and lack of connection to community that the Network Youth brought to show the Commission. Mr. Kingston explained it instead.
The DVD showed individual stories of real youth who have experienced foster care in the United States and in Canada. They had prepared a short clip to show the Commission a youth from Canada who experienced the child welfare system, and who struggled with some feelings that are quite common for youth in foster care including: not knowing one’s cultural identity, or what it’s like coping with intergenerational trauma and loss around family and connection to community.
Following the DVD clip, the Mockingbird Youth Network representatives would then usually share their own personal connections to those stories. Because of limited time, they moved on to the next exercise.
Exercise #6: Slide Show: “Exploring the Culture of Foster Care: National Community Art Project”
The last exercise started with the Commission members watching a slideshow that showed different slides of post-cards created by the youth. Then each youth went through their slides and explained why they picked them and why they were important in their lives. Ms. Asha Boucree talked about struggles with violence and not getting along with foster families. Ms. Brenda Ortega talked about love and family. Ms. Diamonique Walker talked about kinship care and living with her sister. Mr. Kingston then offered the opportunity for Commission members to ask questions of the youth, and their questions included the following:
· Mr. Bamberger thanked the youth for sharing their stories and asked them, how do you cope when you have so many negative things coming at you? Ms. Walker said that is how addictions happen, but for some it’s important to find someone you can lean on and trust—everyone copes differently.
· Ms. Moore asked the youth, how did you hear about Mockingbird? Ms. Stevie Atkins said Advocacy Day; Mr. Sean Reynolds said independent living led him to Mockingbird in Spokane.
· Rep. Roberts and Mr. Canfield asked about life now and visions for their future. Ms. Ortega said she is enrolled in college online and working two jobs in Seattle. Ms. Boucree said she is transitioning out of care (she is almost 18) and is enrolled at Highline Community College. Ms. Walker is living with her “adoptive” family, is working for Mockingbird, and will be attending North Seattle Community College.
Lastly, Mr. Kingston passed out a survey form and asked Commission members for their feedback on the training. He said they could mail it back to him too if they preferred; Ms. Peterson will also collect the surveys left over at the end of the meeting and mail them to Mr. Kingston. Mr. Kingston also asked members to email him if they know someone who may want to be a part of this training; his email address is: email@example.com.
Cross Systems Prevalence Study
Ms. Jennifer Zipoy, of the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR), presented on the Cross Systems Prevalence Study entitled: Cross System Youth: Why We Need to Care. She gave a summary of her background, which includes spending much of her career being an advocate for children and children’s issues.
She explained that “crossover” youth are often confused with “dually adjudicated” youth, the latter having current juvenile justice and current child welfare involvement. “Crossover” youth” have current juvenile justice involvement and past child welfare referral. There is also a group called “dually involved” youth who have current juvenile justice involvement, but a past child welfare legal history that involves out of home placement.
The MacArthur Foundation identified the crossover population as a project they felt strongly about contributing to. Ms. Zipoy said the prevalence of these kids in our society is difficult to estimate because data systems don’t “talk to each other.” So the cross systems “prevalence study” was Washington’s first attempt at gauging the scope of the problem. The study was a collaboration between King County, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), and WSCCR. They selected 4500 juvenile offenders (with full records) in King County. King County then sent their data to NCJJ and WSCCR to match it with court data. Then through partnership with DSHS/CA, they were able to get CA data, and NCJJ completed the analysis.
They found four different levels of involvement in child welfare: (1) 33% had no involvement with CA, (2) 30% peripheral involvement with CA, (3) 16% CA initiated legal activity [dependency petition in place], and
(4) 21% named on one or more moderate-to-high risk CPS referrals accepted for investigation, and the last two had substantial CA involvement. Findings showed crossover youth have consistently worse outcomes across populations than youth who are in one system. Youth with more substantial child welfare involvement were younger when they were referred to the courts or detained in detention. They were also younger when detained in detention than those with no child welfare history. Girls and children of color were much more likely to have a substantial child welfare history. The more severe the child welfare history, the sooner the youth is likely to recidivate. Cross-over youth also tended to have more difficulty in other areas of their lives such as trouble in school, employment problems, gang involvement, family problems, running away, mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.
Lastly, Ms. Zipoy presented three maps created by the WSCCR which is an attempt to identify/map out these populations. She said the takeaway message of the study is that the scope of this problem is a lot bigger than people think it is, and this population has a lot of needs. Ms. Zipoy answered Commission members’ questions, and also asked them to please review the handouts that were sent to them via e-mail. For additional questions, Ms. Zipoy can be contacted at 360-704-4142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judicial Workload Study and King County Model Court by NCJFCJ
Dr. Alicia Summers, Research Assistant with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), distributed two handouts and discussed findings in their Washington Workload Assessment studies.
Ms. Summers said that statewide they found 38% have sufficient or more than sufficient judicial resources, 28% are within the threshold for sufficient practice, and 33% are lacking adequate judicial resources for engaging in “typical” court practice. However, when looking at estimates of the FTE needed to conduct “thorough, best practice hearings,” the number rose from 9.6 for typical practice to 18 for thorough practice. They found that 23% have sufficient judicial resources, 31% are within the threshold for sufficient resources, and 46% require additional resources to hold thorough hearings.
They further found that two-thirds of Washington courts are adequately staffed (or close to adequately staffed) to engage in typical court practice, but almost half of Washington’s courts are not adequately staffed to implement best practices and conduct thorough hearings.
Based on these findings, they chose to do an in-depth study of Spokane’s practices because of their sufficient judicial resources and performance on timeliness measures. Their findings showed: Spokane engages in several best practices, timely case processing, parents attend the majority of hearings, children are often placed in relative care, and they utilize family team decision meetings (FTDMs). Spokane routinely processes cases timely and efficiently.
They then compared Spokane to King County, by sending a self-assessment survey to both. Their findings showed that King County uses alternative dispute resolution techniques (mediation) more consistently than Spokane; however, Spokane performs better in the following areas: relevant parties being present at hearings, using reasonable efforts to locate family members, treating all who appear in court with respect and dignity, utilizing time certain calendaring, utilizing a one family/one judge model, conducting collaborative and non-adversarial hearings, making services available immediately for families, and maintaining a child friendly courthouse waiting room. The assessment showed that (1) Spokane regularly engages in 56% of the best practices identified in the self-assessment survey, (2) King County regularly engages in 34% of the best practices, and (3) Spokane appears to have a more ingrained culture of collaboration among stakeholders.
In addition they studied the effects of judicial workload on hearing and outcome timeliness in juvenile dependency cases. Their overall conclusion was that adequate judicial resources are related to: improved timeliness, higher percentages of cases that reach permanency in shorter timeframes, and overall better outcomes for children and families.
Following this conclusion, they identified programs that can improve efficiency of practice and might affect workload: Mediation (King County), Parent to Parent Program (King County), and Family Team Decision Meetings (FTDM; Spokane County). Ultimately, they found that thoroughness and engagement of parties seem to be key themes related to improved outcomes for children and families, and they improve workload and efficiency.
Dr. Summers said the next steps are finalizing the presented studies and projects. There was discussion and Dr. Summers addressed the Commission members’ questions. For more information, Dr. Summers can be contacted at (775) 784-7570 or ASummers@ncjfcj.org. Ms. Peterson will also email a copy of Dr. Summers’ PowerPoint presentation to Commission members.
National Adoption Day
Judge Dean Lum, of King County Superior Court, and Ms. Lorrie Thompson, Communications Officer for the AOC, discussed the upcoming National Adoption Day (NAD) on November 18, 2011. Judge Lum said last year they had their largest statewide NAD to date, and he discussed their plans for this year. This is the sixth year statewide, and the tenth year for King County. Last year 22 courts were involved, and this year they hope for more.
Ms. Thompson talked about the new NAD web page they are creating. They are also beginning to look for organizations that might be willing to donate bears for the adopted children, especially for newly involved courts. In the past they have received assistance from the radio station WARM 101.5 and the King County Bar Association, and they will likely be seeking out small donations from various resources for this year’s NAD. She also said they will definitely pass the 1000 kids adopted mark this year during the statewide celebration.
Judge Lum told Commission members they are very open to any suggestions or ideas they have to offer, and asked if they had any messages they wanted to send while they have people’s attention. The group discussed their thoughts and ideas, and thanked Judge Lum and Ms. Thompson for all they are doing for NAD.
Dependency Best Practices Workgroup
Ms. Joanne Moore gave the Commission a quick update on the Best Practices Workgroup chaired by Judge Anne Hirsch. She shared information about the retreat they had on July 30, and said the workgroup is going to produce a report regarding best practices currently occurring in the courts on a certain number of topics. She said it will be done in such a way that other courts can look up one of these topics and find out what’s going on in other courts around the state. Information will include who to call, how to carry it out, what happened when the court did carry it out, what issues a second court might find, etc. The goal is to make it like “Wikipedia,” and they will be responsible for keeping it updated and online. She said Mr. Tim Jaasko-Fisher facilitated the retreat on July 30, and will put the report onto his web page. This is the list of topics and their workgroups:
1. Case Management Process Systems Integration (workgroup = Judge Hirsch and Ms. Janet Skreen)
2. Youth Voice (workgroup = Ms. Jeannie Kee, Mr. Jaasko-Fisher, and Ms. Wendy Mayo)
3. Early Engagement (workgroup = Commissioner Jeske and Ms. Moore)
4. Services (workgroup = Sharon Gilbert Ms Smith and Ms. Moore)
5. Principles (workgroup = Judge Hirsch and Mr. Jaasko-Fisher)
6. Training (workgroup = Mr. Jaasko-Fisher)
7. Collaboration Efforts in the Courts in Different Counties (workgroup = Ms. Linda Lillevick, Mr. Michael Griesedieck and Ms. Moore)
8. Family Support (workgroup = Judge Hirsch and Ms. Moore)
9. Data (workgroup = Commissioner Royce Moe and Mr. Carl McCurley)
10. Forms (workgroup = Ms. Moore, Ms. Skreen, and Commissioner Moe
Mr. Jaasko-Fisher is in charge of the format for the report. The plan is to do a one to two page summary for each example of a best practice in these areas covering: key principles that were implemented by the practice, what was or can be achieved by implementing the practice, a description of it, what data was involved and data capabilities, contact information of key people who were involved in implementing it, and fiscal information. They have a conference call scheduled for next week to check workgroups progress.
Ms. Hathaway Burden, Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ), gave an overview on the
WA-QIC project, and talked about where it is going. She explained the University of Michigan Law School recently received a five-year grant in the amount of 5 million dollars to create a best practices model on child representation in dependency proceedings. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of it, they selected two demonstration sites around the country, Washington State and Georgia. The University of Michigan has completed and piloted the first half of their best practices curriculum. Mr. Bamberger, Ms. Burden, Mr. Jaasko-Fisher, and other CCYJ staff attended that training in June, and as a result the University of Michigan is doing some revamping of their curriculum with the help of Tim Jaasko-Fisher. The goal is that training will be ready at the beginning of the New Year.
In addition, they recently hired their resource attorney, Mr. Rob Wyman, who will be responsible for recruiting participating attorneys as well as providing ongoing support to make sure everyone is in compliance. Mr. Wyman will recruit100 attorneys who are practicing dependencies in Washington State. They will then be randomly assigned into the control group or the treatment group—some will receive the best practices training and some will not. Then during the next three years, they will be collecting that data with the help of Dr. Carl McCurley, WSCCR, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
Justice Bridge reminded everyone that the Commission is the oversight group for the WA-QIC. She said they will be receiving regular reports from Ms. Burden on the progress of this project, and Mr. Bamberger will be available to talk about how they are doing, as well. The study will also yield three years worth of data regarding comparisons with youth who have an attorney and youth without attorneys.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
Justice Bridge revisited the topic of Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup. During past meetings it was decided to delay making any decisions about it for the time being. This was an idea that originated with Mr. Mike Canfield at a retreat, but there have been reasons for not moving forward right away. Mr. Canfield told the Commission that Ms. Beth Canfield said there is work being done, but he’s not sure if that means we don’t need the workgroup at this time. Justice Bridge said this topic will be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
Decision-Maker Summit Update
Ms. Courtney Millan discussed the Decision Makers Summit and thanked everyone for their progress reports. She asked if Commission members would send reports related to child welfare, from 2008 to present, in order to continue updating the Child Welfare Database. Rep. Roberts suggested Ms. Millan talk to Linda Merrell about reports from the Legislature.
Commission meeting dates for 2012
Ms. Millan proposed dates for next year’s Commission meetings, and she asked Commission members to check their calendars and let her know if these dates would not work for them. The dates are:
· March 19
· May 21
· September 24
· December 17
Ms. Millan will also email the dates to members. The dates will be approved at the next meeting.
The date for the next meeting is Monday, December 19, at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s
There being no further business, Ms. Denise Revels Robinson adjourned the meeting.
Susan Peterson, AOC
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