Commission on Children in Foster Care
September 24, 2012
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
Dr. Ken Emmil, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Ms. Chorisia Folkman, NW Intertribal Court System Representative
Ms. Jeannie Kee, Foster Youth Alumni Representative
Ms. Joanne Moore, Washington State Office of Public Defense
Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck, Superior Court Judges’ Association
Ms. Carrie Wayno, Attorney General’s Office
Members not present:
Ms. Beth Canfield; Mr. Ryan Cummings; Senator James Hargrove; Ms. Barbara James,
Rep. Ruth Kagi; Rep. Mary Helen Roberts.
Ms. Hathaway Burden, Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ); Ms. Callie Dietz, Interim Administrator, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC); Ms. Myra Downing, Gender & Justice and Minority & Justice Commissions; Ms. Laurie Lippold, Children’s Home Society of Washington; Dr. Carl McCurley, Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR); Ms. Nicki Oliver, Intern with Children’s Home Society of Washington; Chief Judge Mark Pouley, Tribal/State Court Consortium Member; Ms. Barb Putman, DSHS Children’s Administration; Ms. Janet Skreen, AOC; Ms. Lorrie Thompson, AOC.
Ms. Courtney Millan, CCFC Intern, CCYJ
Ms. Susan Peterson, AOC
Staff not present:
Mr. Michael Curtis, Executive Director
Call to Order and Welcome:
Asst. Secretary Denise Revels Robinson called the meeting to order.
Welcome and Introductions:
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson welcomed Commission members and guests, and everyone introduced themselves. A special welcome was given to Dr. Ken Emmil, the new Foster Care Program Special Assistant for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Dr. Emmil introduced himself to the group and shared his passion for children in foster care. He said he is excited to be part of this Commission and is looking forward to working with the group to create change in the lives of foster youth. Dr. Emmil is taking Ron Hertel’s place on Commission as the new OSPI Designee for Superintendent Randy Dorn.
Approval of May 21, 2012 Meeting Minutes
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson presented the meeting minutes from May 21, 2012. Motion to approve the minutes as written was made by Judge van Doorninck. The motion was seconded by
Mr. Mike Canfield. The May 21, 2012 meeting minutes were unanimously approved as written.
Approval of June 27, 2012 Foster Youth and Alumni Summit Meeting Minutes
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson presented the meeting minutes from the June 27, 2012 Mockingbird Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit. Motion to approve the minutes as written was made by Judge van Doorninck. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mike Canfield. The June 27, 2012 meeting minutes were unanimously approved as written.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Updates
Powell Fatality Review
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said the Child Fatality Review Committee released it’s report in August 2012. The Review group convened on April 26-27 and again on June 8. For the first time a member of the press was in attendance, a reporter from the Seattle Times. The Committee made the following four recommendations:
1. In dependency proceedings when there is an active criminal investigation, Children’s Administration should make concerted efforts to include and consult with the assigned detective prior to making changes in parent/child contact, e.g. visitation in accordance with the respective county protocols required by RCW 26.44.185.
2. Given the intrusive nature of a psycho-sexual evaluation, Children’s Administration should reassess parent/child contact (e.g. visitation duration, supervision, location) prior to the next parent-child visit when a judge orders a parent undergo such psycho-sexual evaluation in the course of a dependency proceeding.
3. Because the identification of domestic violence is critical when making case decisions intended to increase safety for children, on-going training and regular consultation on domestic violence for Children’s Administration staff is recommended. Training should address how to use the Children’s Administration’s Social Worker’s Practice Guide to Domestic Violence and assessing safety threats to children.
4. In cases where the judge orders a child’s placement with a specific caregiver over the objection of a parent, the Committee recommended the reasons be articulated in the court record.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said Children’s Administration (CA) is preparing a response to the Committee’s recommendations that pertain to CA and is hoping to have the response completed by the end of October. Also, although this was a Region 3 case, they will be responding from a policy perspective so it will be statewide, not just for Region 3. She will share the response at the next Commission meeting.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she welcomes any questions or feedback from Commission members. Ms. Courtney Millan will send a link to the Fatalities Report to all Commission members for anyone has not seen the report yet. The report is also available by going onto CA’s website.
Justice Bridge asked if there was counseling available for social workers after such traumatic events.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said that she met with Region 3 staff after the incident and that counseling was available for assigned staff, as well as access to a psychologist and other services. She said that peer support has also been very effective, and she hopes workers will see it as strength to ask for help.
Title IV-E Waiver Update
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said, as of the end of September 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will have the authority to approve up to ten flexible funding waivers each federal fiscal year for three years; starts September 2012 for a total of 30 waivers. Washington has applied for a waiver..
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson explained that Title IV-E is the only remaining uncapped entitlement, and in terms of federal funding and in child welfare, it is primarily used for reimbursement of out-of-home placement of children. She said, for every dollar that is spent on placement of a Title IV-E child, their federal partners reimburse the State 50 cents on the dollar, and although the federal policy has been to keep children safely in the home and avoid removal, the funding source has governed more for out of home placement. Thus very little funding has been available for keeping children in the home, which is CA’s purpose for this funding. There is no additional federal funding with an approval waiver however with the waiver, CA is asking that, as their foster care population goes down, they may be able to reinvest that money into keeping children safely at home. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said that they hope to do this through their Family Assessment and Response.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said CA’s application scored the highest in the nation, and all the applications are posted on the Children’s Bureau website s six out of 12 applications have been approved so far, CA is very close to being approved. The negotiation process should be finished by the end of next week. She also thanked those who have helped in this process so far for their input and support.
Ms. Chorisia Folkman asked if the tribes will be able to access those funds. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said the tribes have been a large part of the planning, and they will benefit on behalf of Tribal children who are served through the FAR program as that is how the federal savings will be reinvested. She said the tribal response has been very positive and CA will continue working with them.
Dependency Timeliness Report Presentation
Dr. Carl McCurley, of the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR), began by reminding members that Dependency Timeliness Report is required by the Washington State Legislature and that this will be WSCCR’s sixth year producing it. He then talked about this year’s developments including:
1. Improved ability to reach intended audience;
2. More timely updates to the report;
3. New indicators included for differences in process for youth who are defined/grouped in categories by age, gender, race, ethnicity
Dr. McCurley then introduced a new advisory group that will help make sure the report will be relevant for the end user. It is called the Dependency Timeliness Report (DTR) Advisory Committee.
Ms. Janet Skreen of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) discussed how the DTR Advisory Committee came about. The Committee will include members from the AOC, Attorney General’s Office (AGO), CA, Casey Family Programs, Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA), Office of Public Defense (OPD), Research and Data Analysis part of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Washington State Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee, and members of the courts. Ms. Skreen will likely be staffing the DTR Advisory Committee, along with help from Ms. Kate O’Donnell from WSCCR. They hope to have their first meeting sometime this fall and at that time establish mission and goals. They are excited to have fresh eyes look at the report and about the new ideas this group will develop. Ms. Skreen will be reporting to this Commission on a regular basis on the progress of the DTR Advisory Committee.
Justice Bridge asked if Mr. Matt Orme would still be involved and Ms. Skreen said that he would continue to be involved through the Court Improvement Program Data grant. Mr. Jim Bamberger suggested they include a member on the DTR Advisory Committee who would represent the interests of children: Ms. Skreen thanked him for the suggestion and said she will look into adding representatives from CASA and defense counsel who could represent children. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson asked when they expected the DTR Advisory Committee to convene, and Ms. Skreen said they are hoping to get this group together by the middle of November.. Dr. McCurley said they hope to be able to get some feedback from the group before the DTR is produced, so hopefully engaging them in November, in at least a draft form, will give them time to look at it before the DTR gets released in early session.
Dr. McCurley then distributed Timeliness of Dependency Case Processing in Washington State. At the top, the handout shows a snapshot from the printed version of the 2011 Annual Report and the link to the Report’s web address on the Washington Courts website. The online interactive DTR now includes continually updated detailed information, an outcomes indicator, the gender, age and race at the time of filing and drill down capability. Dr. McCurley explained the four sections in detail to members and answered their questions.
Judge van Doorninck said they use the Report all the time, and the ability to track data by county is critical. Dr. McCurley said he thinks the best thing about the report is that it gets court staff, the AGO, and child welfare workers engaged in tracking their own process and outcomes. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson thanked Dr. McCurley and Ms. Skreen for their report.
Washington Tribal-State Judicial Consortium
Chief Judge Mark Pouley and Ms. Myra Downing, of the Gender and Justice Commission and Minority and Justice Commission, gave a presentation on the Tribal-State Judicial Consortium Project. Chief Judge Pouley began by introducing himself and explaining he is a member of Swinomish Tribal Court, as well as a member of the Tribal-State Court Consortium and the Gender and Justice Commission. He explained the background of the project and how Judge Patricia Clark and Judge Theresa Pouley decided to pursue this project. He then distributed a handout to members, titled: Washington Tribal-State Judicial Consortium: “Walking on Common Ground,” that discusses the mission, goals, values, and scope of work for the Consortium project. He explained that this handout was created by Ms. Myra Downing and Ms. Janet Skreen, and that it is a “working draft” and fully explains what they want to do as a workgroup.
Chief Judge Pouley said this project can be wider or smaller depending on participation of the state courts and tribes, and the idea is to build relationships between tribal courts and state courts to develop policies, protocols, and court rules, so they can come up with solutions and institutionalize them to overcome or fill some of the gaps. Several of the areas they noted included: domestic violence protection orders, and dependency cases—where laws overlap interests of the state and tribes, but there are also a lot of gaps due to jurisdiction disputes, lack of communication, and differences in laws. Chief Judge Pouley said we have a lot of the same interests and goals, but we also have a lot of differences and divides to overcome. He said the path they are taking, from the state’s perspective might be easier than it would be from the tribal courts perspective. From the state perspective there is a clear hierarchy of courts, which is not the case with the tribal courts. The state courts cannot develop a system and force it on the tribal courts, or even assume the tribal courts will want to be involved. These differences in perspectives make decisions on how to address the issues difficult.
Ms. Myra Downing explained this would be a project in collaboration with the Gender and Justice Commission, the Minority and Justice Commission and the Commission on Children in Foster Care. Moving forward, Ms. Downing said they want to have all three Commissions on board, and Chief Justice Madsen will send a letter to all the tribes asking if they would like to participate. They are then hoping that two or three tribes will be interested in doing a pilot project. She then explained that they are here today talking to the Commission to see if they are supportive with this project.
Ms. Carrie Wayno asked what this project will do differently than what the state statues already do. Chief Judge Pouley stated that it would address the joint issues that the state courts and tribal courts have. Mr. Bamberger also responded to the question and said, from his experience as an Indian Child Welfare Act practicing attorney, he sees that the law is clear, but the practice is inconsistent. He also added that he believes it is important for this Commission to be involved and endorse this project. Ms. Folkman added that she sees it as best practices and thinks it is a great idea to have coordinated efforts to make sure all needs are being met.
Motion that the Commission join with the Gender and Justice Commission and the Minority and Justice Commission in the Tribal-State Judicial Consortium Project made by Mr. Bamberger. Judge van Doorninck seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously.
Chief Judge Pouley and Ms. Downing will continue to keep the Commission updated on this project.
Discuss 2012 Youth and Leadership Summit Recommendations
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson began by saying that all the Summits she has been to have touched her heart, but for some reason this one touched her very differently, especially because of the discussions around children not being able to see their brothers and sisters and the reasons why that was occurring.
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson said she was very touched by the presentations from youth and that we need to normalize their issues and take a “human” approach. She has also formally responded to the youth (through a letter which was distributed to Commission members). She said she continues to welcome ideas and recommendations, and she believes supervisors need to take a bigger role in this process. Justice Bridge said this is the first time that anyone has given a formal response to the youth, which she commended. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson agreed that it is important to respond formally to show the progress and ongoing commitment.
Mr. Bamberger asked if we have a tracking document for all eight years of these Summits Justice Bridge made a two-part motion to: back over all eight Summits and summarize where we are today and have this as a continuing report on the Commission meeting agendas, like the Decision-Makers Summit progress report, to track the continuing progress. Mr. Bamberger seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously. This will be a project for the Commission’s new intern, Alyson McLean.
Ms. Jeannie Kee suggested that Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson’ response letter be put onto www.independence.wa.gov so that youth can access it as well. Ms. Barb Putnam said she will put the letter on the website. Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson’ suggested also letting the youth know about the motion, and Justice Bridge said she will draft something from herself and Asst. Secretary Denise to be put on the site as well.
Dependency Best Practices Workgroup
Ms. Joanne Moore reported on the Dependency Best Practices Workgroup and its progress thus far. She said the Workgroup Report is almost done. She distributed a handout, titled Best Practices Report: Content and Order, that lists the primary reports (covers court practices), as well as an appendix. The primary reports are listed in order of level of research, and the order of services in the appendix has not yet been decided. Each report is approximately two pages long and contains the level of research, references, and contact information from someone working in this issue area.
Ms. Skreen said the report is expected to be placed in the Non-Offender Benchbook, as well as on the CITA website. Ms. Moore said the value of this report will be that it can be updated. Members asked questions and gave some suggestions about the report. Ms. Laurie Lippold suggested the report be open to adding new services and information as they come in; Ms. Moore agreed. The Workgroup hopes to have this report completed by the end of the year.
Ms. Jeannie Kee updated the Commission on the Normalcy Workgroup. She said the group has had four meetings so far and continues to work on their five tasks that were listed at the previous meeting.
Ms. Kee believes the Workgroup is close to drafting formal recommendations. The group also hopes to create a facts vs. myths document that CA and their community partners can use. They are looking at examples from other states, such as a “Don’t Say NO, Before you KNOW” document that Florida uses to expose myths within foster care policy. The group continues to create a definition for what is “normal”. They are also looking into including “Normalcy” on the Individual Service and
Safety Plan (ISSP) section of the Independent Living Skills Program, as something social workers will be required to discuss with youth at monthly meetings.
Ms. Kee updated members on the current membership of the Normalcy Workgroup, and she answered members’ questions. She said the group is very excited about what they are accomplishing so far.
Ms. Hathaway Burden updated the Commission on the Quality Improvement Center (QIC) project. She said the two-day trainings are now completed, and they have started doing the ongoing training sessions, POD meetings, and quarterly follow-up trainings. QIC has four data collection sources:
1. Administrative Data from SCOMIS—from the AOC through Carl McCurley and the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) team;
2. FAMLINK—through help from WSCCR;
3. 24 Jurisdictions Participating—who report to Ms. Burden;
4. Attorney Surveys.
In addition, they were just approved for another two-day training in March 2013 for one final recruitment. The QIC project currently has 116 attorneys but are expecting to have 125 by the end.
Ms. Burden also updated members on the second component of this project, which is comparing the outcomes for children with legal representation and those without legal representation. She said, from a statistical perspective, they are finding it is very difficult to find comparison samples due to a number of variables. So this may become more of an observational study, looking at instances in which children have representation vs. those who don’t, and still trying to compare as many outcomes as they can.
Ms. Burden answered members’ questions. She will continue to keep the Commission updated.
National Adoption Day
Ms. Lorrie Thompson discussed National Adoption Day. She last year’s event, and distributed a copy of the Washington State National Adoption Day 2011: A final report of the Washington State National Adoption Day Steering Committee. She reminded members that National Adoption Day began in 2005, with seven counties and 61 children adopted during that first year; in 2011 there were 20 counties and 168 children adopted. Also last year they also broke the 1000-children threshold, with a total of 1129 foster children being adopted since National Adoption Day began. The radio station Warm 106.9 also donated 300 teddy bears last year, and they used almost all of them. In addition, they created a new website which is available year-round at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/adoptionDay/?fa=adoptionDay.home).
This year, National Adoption Day will be held on November 16, 2012. One new county, Lewis County, has already requested to join. Eight children are already signed up. They also have some new members from DSHS on their Steering Committee. They have their first conference call scheduled for this-coming Wednesday and will soon begin working on all the details. They plan to ask Warm 106.9 to possibly become a permanent sponsor and hope to obtain a final proclamation from Governor Gregoire.
Everyone involved is very excited and looking forward to this year’s National Adoption Day.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
This is still pending, and it appears there is still no need to do anything at this time. The Commission talked about the possibility of a Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) presentation. They also discussed the issue of developmental delays, and that when this issue was originally brought forward it was broader than youth that had mental health needs. This will be placed on the December meeting agenda.
Discuss Parent Advocate Member
The Commission now has two names. Moving forward the Commission will ask both candidates for a letter of interest and resume. This is the same method the Commission selected their youth member.
Child Maltreatment and Gender Violence Proposal
Justice Bridge asked for a continuance of this topic and said she will have a proposal for the December meeting.
Commission Meeting Dates for 2013
Ms. Millan read potential dates for the 2013 quarterly Commission meetings. She asked Commission members to let her know if any of the dates conflicted with anything. The dates are as follows:
March: 11 or 18
May: 13 or 20
September: 16 or 23
December: 9 or 16
Susan will email members the dates and ask for their votes. Justice Bridge reminded members there will also be a June meeting—the Annual Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit.
Justice Bridge reminded members this will be Courtney’s last meeting and thanked her for her work for the Commission. Alyson McLean, from the Evans School, has been hired as the new intern taking Courtney’s place. Alyson will begin working with the Commission in October and will be at the December Commission meeting. Susan will email Alyson’s resume to Commission members.
Justice Bridge presented a two-page handout about Project Respect and gave members some background information about it. It is a project CCYJ is working on to develop protocol for better responding to cases involving Commercial and Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). This project is funded by a two-year federal grant that CCYJ received in partnership with the nonprofit YouthCare.
Their initial task is to develop a statewide protocol by the end of the year. They are doing so in consultation with approximately 150 people statewide, a survey of others, and five mini-summits they have conducted around the state that focused on the protocol development. They also have their statewide summit coming up this Friday where they will present their draft protocol. Once they have a consensus document, it will act as a template, and local jurisdictions will be invited to go through their own process of developing protocol using that template.
For the second year, CCYJ’s task will be to provide technical assistance and consultation if the jurisdictions need it, as well as look at how those things are being developed, reflecting on what they learned this past year, and seeing that the statewide response is holistic. YouthCare will also be participating in trainings on prostituted youth, including who they are, where they are and what their needs are (that we know about specifically and based on research).
Justice Bridge will come back to the Commission in December with a copy of the protocol, before it is finalized to get their thoughts on it, and with the results of the statewide summit.
Other New Business
Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson will be retiring in January 2013. She will say her final goodbyes at the next Commission meeting in December.
The next meeting is on December 17, 2012, at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s Reception Room.
There being no further business, Asst. Secretary Revels Robinson adjourned the meeting.
Susan Peterson, AOC
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