Commission on Children in Foster Care
December 19, 2011
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
Ms. Joanne Moore, Director, Office of Public Defense
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, Washington State House of Representatives
Ms. Barbara James, Executive Director, Washington State CASA
Ms. Jeannie Kee, Foster Youth Alumni Representative
Members not present:
Ms. Beth Canfield; Mr. Ryan Cummings; Senator James Hargrove; Mr. Ron Hertel; Judge Laura Inveen
Ms. Hathaway Burden, CCYJ; Ms. Bonnie Glenn, DSHS; Ms. Laurie Lippold, Children’s Home Society of Washington; Dr. Carl McCurley, WSCCR; Mr. Matthew Orme, WSCCR; Ms. Megan Palchak, on behalf of Rep. Ruth Kagi; Ms. Barb Putnam, DSHS; Ms. Nancy Roberts-Brown, Catalyst for Kids; Ms. Janet Skreen, AOC; Mr. Kevin Solarte, Children’s Home Society of Washington; Ms. Janet Wiig, Co-Director of the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change Initiative at the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps; Mr. Greg Williamson, OSPI.
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:
Justice Bridge called the meeting to order.
Welcome and Introductions:
Justice Bridge welcomed Commission members and guests, and everyone introduced themselves.
Approval of September 19, 2011 Meeting Minutes
Justice Bridge presented the September 19, 2011, meeting minutes and asked for a motion to approve. Mr. Bamberger moved to approve the minutes without any changes. The motion was seconded by Ms. Moore. The September 19, 2011, meeting minutes were approved unanimously.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Updates
New DSHS Secretary
Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson shared that Robin Arnold-Williams will become the new Secretary for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) on January 3, 2012. She is replacing Susan Dreyfus. Ms. Arnold-Williams previously served as Secretary of DSHS from 2005 to 2008.
Title IV-E Waiver
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson gave an update about an opportunity Washington State has to apply for a waiver that will allow flexibility in using Title IV-E funding. President Obama signed new federal legislation that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (SHHS) to fund up to 10 states through the Title IV-E Waiver (approving up to ten new child welfare demonstration projects per year). In addition, the first statewide advisory committee to make recommendations to Children’s Administration (CA) has been established and will convene on Wednesday.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she wants Commission members to think about: (1) what do we want to do to continue our progress and strengthen our public child welfare system, and (2) what it is, based on this waiver, that we can use the money to fund, so that the money really follows policy, program values, and guidelines? She distributed a list of the parameters within which DSHS has to operate. She said since they do not have the federal guidelines yet, they are operating with what is in the legislation. The legislation indicates that the goals of the demonstration projects are to accomplish one or more of the following:
1. Increase permanency by reducing time in foster care and promote successful transition to adulthood.for former foster youth.
2. Increase the positive outcomes for infants, children, and families in their homes and communities, including tribal communities, and improve the safety and well-being of infants, children, and youth.
3. Prevent child abuse and neglect and re-entry into care.
Title IV-E is an uncapped entitlement program. The two areas of waiver include (1) prevention of removal and (2) continuing to work with children once they are reunified.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she will keep the Commission informed, and that federal guidelines would likely be received by September 2012 or later.
Summary of the Supplemental Budget
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson provided a summary of the supplemental budget reductions in the Governor’s budget. She also asked Commission members to let her know if they have any questions regarding the Govenor’s budget.
Child Welfare, Education and the Courts Summit: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Success of Children and Youth in Foster Care
Mr. Ron Hertel was unable to attend the Commission meeting due to illness, so Mr. Greg Williamson, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), reported on his behalf. He reported on the Child Welfare, Education and the Courts Summit: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Success of Children and Youth in Foster Care meeting that was held in Washington D.C. The meeting had representatives from all 50 states, from three different sectors, the U.S. Department of Education, HHS, and the Courts. Mr. Hertel, Mr. Williamson, Ms. Janet Skreen, Assistant Secretary Revels Robinson, and Ms. Barb Putnam were part of the Washington team.
Mr. Williamson said the meeting was convened by several national groups, and they discussed trends in foster care and how to use successful strategies. Presenters also discussed educational stability, information sharing data systems, best practices in youth engagement and working with foster care alumni. Attendees of the conference created state plans and talked about increasing stability and inter-agency work. Annie Blackledge, who worked with OSPI and has been on a one-year fellowship with the Department of Education, was able to help pull everyone together for this meeting.
In addition to the state planning, Mr. Williamson and Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson were able to have conversations on a new level of detail about CA and OSPI, their issues, and how the two agencies can better work together. They also brought Larry Fazzari from their OSPI Title 1 Office, and he was able to look across Title 1 Education, one of the biggest elements of federal education funding in Washington State. He said Judge Anne Hirsch was also there and invited him to participate in Thurston County’s foster care conversation on case management and systems change efforts.
Ms Janet Skreen, who also attended the summit, reported how far ahead of most states Washington State is. Yet there is still a long road ahead. Both she and Judge Hirsch were struck by how many conversations took place surrounding transportation. Arizona has an Education Coordinator in their juvenile court, and they work both with juvenile probation and their Children’s Administration to make sure their transportation issues, stability issues, and credits issues operate smoothly. Ms. Skreen wished every juvenile court could have this kind of coordination.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson reported that this was one of the best federal conferences on child welfare that she has attended. It was also the first one that required a team to include child welfare, education, and the courts. The Secretary of Education, Arnold Duncan, opened the conference through video which she felt sent a strong leadership message to child welfare agencies regarding the education system’s responsibility for taking care of the children in the child welfare system.
In addition, Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said California and other states have put resources into placing staff from the Department of Education into the court to coordinate the needs of the foster children. The Washington team spent a lot of time talking about how they could work together on some of their data needs so they could identify where children are being removed from, by zip code/area, to begin recruitment of more foster families and relatives of children and to build capacity for foster children in the areas the children are being removed from to increase stability for children.
Ms. Barb Putnam then gave a brief update about the components of the work plan. Two over-arching goals:
1. Improve school stability (with three focus issues):
(1) Work on immediate transfer of school records
(2) Create a geo map that would actually align active foster homes within school districts (they have already sent their foster home information over to OSPI, and they are aligning it out with school districts)
(3) Transportation (keeping school continuity through transportation)
2. Improve well-being of foster children
(1) Join with or highlight the need of youth voice (within context of their educational success)
(2) Create a broad-base communication strategy (so they have a way to make sure they are all talking about the same things and everyone understands)
(3) Really commit to doing their work together
Ms. Putnam will keep the Commission advised.
National Leadership Conference of Commissions on Children
Justice Bridge said an opportunity presented itself for a team of four to come together: she, Mr. Mike Curtis, Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson, and Mr. Ron Hertel attended the National Leadership Conference of Commissions on Children. They attended three meetings, and developed team goals moving forward.
Since both Mr. Curtis and Mr. Hertel were unable to attend today’s Commission meeting, Ms. Courtney Millan, CCYJ Evans School Intern, spoke on behalf of the Washington team. The three meetings they attended are summarized as follows:
This meeting was for teams to discuss the greatest impacts of their Commission. They discussed the Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA), the Annual Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit and the foster youth members, and the legal representation for children in the foster care system. They also discussed communication issues that are tied with funding, statutes regarding appointment of counsel representing youth in foster care system, strategies to make improvements and legal representation recommendations.
This meeting helped teams identify strategies to improve child protection systems. Both workshops they attended talked about Washington State being the leader.
When asked, what strategies they will pursue to recommend after this conference, they answered the following:
1) To expand the Supreme Court Associate Justices’ knowledge of engagement in child welfare-related issues and convene a child-welfare summit for the Washington State Supreme Court
2) Align efforts for improving foster youth educational outcomes with the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s agenda for high risk and vulnerable youth. They would essentially be taking the programs they already have and make them a higher priority for OSPI.
One workshop that stood out to Mr. Curtis was the “Meaningful and Ongoing Collaboration between State and Tribal Courts.” In Minnesota, they collaborate with the White Earth Tribal Nation. Ideas were as follows:
1) Workable alternatives to termination of parental rights (Indian children are 1% of the population in Minnesota, and 21% in foster care) so their parental rights are suspended, not terminated, and suspensions are reviewed after a year. If the child hasn’t been adopted, or adoption fails, or if an adopted parent dies, so they have the possibility of restoring the parental rights.
2) The child gets a Fetal Alcohol Screen. The early ID helps identify the need so issues can be addressed promptly.
Ms. Millan and Justice Bridge addressed Commission members’ questions. Justice Bridge commented that the opportunity of having these state teams has been very valuable.
Interactive Dependency Timeliness Reporting Site
Dr. Carl McCurley, Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR), gave an introduction to WSCCR and explained their purpose: to provide effective research that will inform decision making.
In 2007, WSCCR received a directive from the Legislature to work with Children’s Administration to examine the standards that exist for timeliness of processing dependency cases for children in foster care. In the first year they created a brief overview of timeliness for a handful of indicators at the state level. Since then, they increased their ability to examine data at a county level. With new hire, Mr. Matt Orme, Senior Research Associate with WSCCR, they are increasing their ability further. Mr. Orme has helped make connections between the courts information and information from CA.
Through partnership with the Assistant Secretary of CA, WSCCR created an interactive reporting site. They have now been working diligently for the last 6 months with Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Plan (FJCIP) Coordinators out of state to produce an internal reporting site where they can access their progress.
Mr. Orme and Dr. McCurley then demonstrated how to access the Interactive Reporting Timeliness Reporting Site and took members on a tour of the site. Mr. Orme explained the basic functionality of the reports and examined data from Spokane, Thurston, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.
Mr. Orme explained that this has allowed WSCRR to go from yearly updates to monthly and quarterly updates. He also talked about some of the ideas they have been discussing for next year with the Asst. Secretary of CA. Discussion followed and member’s questions were answered.
Reports and Updates
Dependency Court Best Practices Workgroup
Ms. Joanne Moore, Director, Office of Public Defense (OPD) gave an update on the Dependency Court Best Practices Workgroup chaired by Judge Anne Hirsch. Judge Hirsh sent her regrets she could not attend the Commission meeting; however, she expects to attend the March 2012 meeting. Ms. Moore reported that the Workgroup has met in person twice and had several conference calls. The Workgroup divided into smaller workgroups in July.
Their most recent meeting, November 15, included the Mockingbird Society’s Culture of Foster Care training. Ms. Moore also pointed out that other members of this Workgroup include Ms. Jeannie Kee, Ms. Janet Skreen, and Ms. Courtney Millan.
Also at the November meeting, they heard about the Spokane Model from Commissioner Royce Moe. He reported that some of the practices that are promoted by their model include reduction in continuances and a team approach — same judge, same AAG, same parents’ attorneys, same social workers, etc.—to achieve a one family one court system. In addition to fewer continuances, more parents attend their hearings than in other courts. ISSPs are never late, and they are able to use their online data to stay up-to-date. They have also discontinued ineffective processes freeing up time for other things. Over time, the Workgroup hopes to break these processes into separate topic areas so individual courts can use the practices that best fit their needs.
The Workgroup has had reports from their various sub-workgroups, one of which is “Early Engagement.” That subgroup did a survey to report on which early engagement activities are effective. They also had a great deal of discussion on whether there should be a youth survey on services. Ms. Jeannie Kee told members they have decided not to do that survey because they already had enough data collected from other sources.
Ms. Moore then directed members’ attention to the draft handout called “Family Connections Have Purpose, Are Planned and Improve Child Safety, Well-being and Permanency Outcomes.” She said it points out key principles they are reviewing and the expected results in court processes, how to track success, and specific resources courts can access..
Their next meeting is on March 24, and they are having a conference call before then. A report to the Commission is anticipated as soon as possible, but no date has been set. Ms. Moore also shared the list of brainstorming services that was put together by Sharon Gilbert and OPD:
Child Welfare and Housing
Ms. Nancy Roberts-Brown, Director, Catalyst for Kids, discussed child welfare and housing with the Commission. Over the last several years, Washington State has done a great job of looking at the intersection of child welfare and housing. When families get the right resources, including housing, parents and families can often reunite. They also know when parents have a voice at the table, they are able to influence policies and practices and improve outcomes.
Mr. Roberts-Brown then presented a PowerPoint presentation called: Housing Matters: “The Intersection of Child Welfare and Housing with the Commission,” which included some national data which she discussed with the Commission. These data suggest the following:
Ms. Roberts-Brown discussed the individual pieces of data surrounding these conclusions, and those can also be found in the PowerPoint handout she distributed to members. She then presented the following three strategies, which she said are currently taking place:
Ms. Roberts-Brown discussed the strategies. She also made the following Recommendations to the Commission:
– Advocacy for improved policy and practice
– Advocacy with child welfare involved families at all stages of the child welfare service continue
There was group discussion, and Ms. Roberts-Brown answered Commission members’ questions. She will also keep Ms. Millan updated on the dates of their upcoming forums, which will take place in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.
Integrated Case Management (ICM) Presentation
Ms. Bonnie Glenn, Special Assistant to Secretary, Department of Social Health Services (DSHS) gave a brief overview and an update to members on Integrated Case Management (ICM) project, a new case practice. Children’s Administration (CA) together with the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) and local communities developed four implementation sites—in Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, and Thurston Counties.
Ms. Glenn referenced the handout and said to date they have created a “Wraparound” process in which the parent voice is very important, as well as the youth voice. She said they have also put together leadership teams across the four jurisdictions, which are community driven and include: DSHS agencies, education, law enforcement, mental health, youth and families, juvenile courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, faith-based organizations, tribes, and natural supports.
She then discussed the target population and referenced the presentation previously given to Commission members by Dr. Elizabeth Kohlenberg. Ms. Glenn noted the ICM implementation sites have since refined their target populations as follows (see third checkmark on handout):
· Okanogan is focusing on children ages 8-11, with diversion and Children’s Administration (CA) histories
· Skagit is emphasizing work with youth ages 8-17; youth in detention who have unmet needs, youth being considered for Children’s Long-term Inpatient Program (CLIP), and youth with multiple and complex needs (She said that’s because they have a lot going on in Skagit County where they have the 1% funding, and both the High Fidelity Wraparound, as well as their ICM work. High Fidelity = the youth that have the most acute needs.)
· Thurston is focusing on the established target population
· Pierce is focusing on the established target population with a lens toward reducing DMC.
Skagit and Thurston Counties are focusing on both High Fidelity Wraparound and ICM target populations—Skagit has staffed eight ICM cases from May through November of 2011 (they have worked with 64 families through their High Fidelity Wraparound process) and Thurston is working to build the infrastructure to begin staffing ICM target populations (they have worked with 25 families through their High Fidelity Wraparound process). Okanogan County is exploring the use of High Fidelity Wraparound and working to build the infrastructure to begin staffing ICM target populations. Pierce County is focusing on adding youth voice and has staffed their first ICM case.
The ICM Development has broken down their goals into three areas: (1) Youth Goals (health and wellness, education, etc.), (2) Family and Community Goals (includes safety and stability), and (3) System Goals. She also discussed their Training and Status on DSHS Subcommittees (which include Practice, Policy, Data, and Legal subcommittees), and recent events.
Justice Bridge asked members for their questions and comments.
Reports and Updates
Justice Bridge clarified that this is their University of Michigan research project on child representation in dependency cases, and introduced Ms. Hathaway Burden, Project Coordinator, Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ). Ms. Burden explained that up until now this has been mostly in the planning phase, but she is happy to report they have now moving out of planning and into the action phase.
She then presented a one-page handout that discusses the basis of the project strategy. The handout, along with an introductory letter from Justice Bridge, have been distributed to presiding judges, judges/commissioners who hear dependency calendars, and juvenile court administrators, in 28 superior court districts.
Rob Wyman, who was just brought onto the project, is doing the individual attorney recruitments. To date, they have 40 attorneys recruited, and the goal is 115. Justice Bridge is also asking judges to provide lists of attorneys to assist them in the recruitment process. It is hoped that recruitment will be completed by February, so training can start in early spring. Ms. Hathaway answered members’ questions about the project, and said the response has been very positive statewide.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
Justice Bridge revisited the topic of Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup. Mr. Mike Canfield gave an update from Ms. Beth Canfield and it was determined that there is no need to move forward at this time.
Commission Meeting Dates for 2012
Justice Bridge reminded members of the dates for next year’s 2012 Commission meetings, and asked them to be sure they have them on their calendars. The dates are:
· March 19
· May 21
· September 24
· December 17
Specialty Foster Homes
Mr. Canfield noted the work that is being done to develop Specialty Foster Homes have multiple systems involved.
Coordination of School Districts and Child Welfare
Representative Roberts raised the issue of collaboration between school districts and child welfare. There is concern that some school districts may be more responsive and supportive than others, and this may be something that should be discussed with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The group discussed this. Justice Bridge suggested this topic be added to next meeting's agenda when Mr. Hertel returns. Asst Secretary Revels Robinson suggested a partnership between OSPI and school district specifically to focus on the foster children in each of their respective school districts. The goal in mind would be to work together with the school districts to make sure they all maintain their responsibility for guiding foster children in their individual school districts.
Night of 1000 Dreams
Mr. Canfield reminded members about the upcoming annual “Night of 1000 Dreams” scheduled for January 16, where they celebrate social workers, representatives in the Legislature, community groups, and many others who are supportive. The event will benefit foster children. Mr. Canfield discussed the details of this year’s event, which will take place at Great Wolf Lodge, and he distributed a flyer about it. Ms. Peterson will also email an electronic copy of the flyer to Commission members.
The date for the next meeting is Monday, March 19, 2012, at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s
There being no further business, Justice Bridge adjourned the meeting.
Susan Peterson, AOC
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