Commission on Children in Foster Care
March 11, 2013
Justice Bobbe Bridge (ret.), Washington State Supreme Court, Commission Co-Chair
Acting Asst. Secretary Jennifer Strus, 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 State (FPAWS)
Mr. Greg Williamson, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
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; Ms. Chorisia Folkman; Senator Mike Carrell; Rep. Ruth Kagi;
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts; Mr. Andrew Sachs.
Ms. Laurie Lippold, Partners for Our Children; Ms. Janet Skreen, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
Ms. Alyson McLean, CCFC Intern, Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ)
Ms. Susan Peterson, AOC
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. A special welcome was given to Acting Asst. Secretary Jennifer Strus, DSHS Children’s Administration, who is the new Commission Co-Chair.
Approval of December 17, 2012 Meeting Minutes
Justice Bridge presented the meeting minutes from December 17, 2012. Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck and Ms. Janet Skreen suggested changes. Motion to approve the minutes with the changes was made by
Mr. Jim Bamberger. The motion was seconded by Judge van Doorninck. The December 17, 2012 meeting minutes were unanimously approved with the changes.
DSHS/Children’s Administration Updates
Family Assessment Response (FAR) Program
Acting Asst. Secretary Strus reported that they are currently working on implementation of Family Assessment Response (FAR) legislation, SB 6555 as part of Title IV-E Waiver. CA is currently working with the Legislature to adequately fund program implementation.
Asst. Sectretary Strus said other states that have implemented differential response programs have found savings in a couple different areas. One is savings at the back end, in foster care; although the savings would not be seen until at least the 2nd biennium. The other is savings at the front end; when FAR families are diverted,many of those families never enter the CPS system.
Recent statistics have shown that foster care rates have gone up since requirements around use of VPA’s were made stricter. To mediate the situation they are loosening the policy and changing it from 7 or 30 days to 90 days, which they believe will have an impact. In addition, adoptions have decreased between 2011 and 2012. CA is looking into the cause.
Performance Based Contracts
Acting Asst. Secretary Strus reported that CA is currently working on implementation of Performance Based Contracting (PBC) legislation, HB 2264. She gave some background on the topic, and said their RFP did go out. The have received several letters of intent from providers though two large providers have since pulled out.
At this point, they have three options: (1) to go ahead with it as is, (2) to amend it, or (3) to recind it. She doesn’t know yet which option they will choose.
Lastly, Acting Asst. Secretary Strus has asked her staff to take a look at all the contracts that they currently are doing at CA to see which of them they could be implemented into the performance based contracting model. Mr. Bamberger asked for clarification whether she meant just moving current contracts into performance based contracting or outsourcing? She said they are not looking at outsourcing, but rather just applying performance based contracting principles to the contracts they already have.
Title IV-E Waiver Update
Acting Asst. Secretary Strus gave an update on the Title IV-E Waiver. She said they are struggling some with the budget. They are on time with the FAR implementation, and they plan to adjust their implementation in accordance with what the Legislature appropriates for them.
2013 Legislative Discussion
Ms. Laurie Lippold, Partners for Our Children, gave members a copy of the March 8, 2013 POC, weekly legislative update, which summarizes and tracks bills relevant to children and families. Ms. Lippold identified particular child-welfare-related bills in the document for members. Those bills included:
· HB 1302 – Relating to extended foster care services (Page 5)
· SB 5405 – Relating to extended foster care services (companion to HB 1302; Page 6)
· HB 1204 – Relating to sibling visitation for children in foster care (Page 3)
· SB 5389 – Relating to sibling visitation for children in foster care (companion to HB 1204; Page 4)
· HB 1140 – Relating to sibling visitation after a dependency has been dismissed or concluded (Page 2)
· HB 1285 – Relating to representation of children in dependency matters (Page 4)
· HB 1774 – Relating to measuring performance of the child welfare system (Page 13)
· HB 1284 – Relating to the rights of parents who are incarcerated or in residential substance abuse treatment (Page 7)
· HB 1821 – Relating to good cause exceptions during permanency hearings (Page 15)
· SB 5565 – Relating to background checks (Page 14)
· HB 1566 – Relating to education outcomes of youth in out-of-home care (Page 11)
· SB 5315 – Related to the Powell Fatalities (Page 16)
· HB 1675 – Relating to improving the adoption process (Page 14)
· SB 5147 – Relating to juveniles and runaway children (Page 34)
She discussed each bill and its current status, and answered Commission members’ questions. There was group discussion. Members also asked about how to get access to this weekly legislative update. Ms. Lippold will send Susan the link to the update, and Susan will email it to Commission members. (The link is: http://partnersforourchildren.org; after going to the site, click on “POLICY.” You can also contact Ms. Lippold directly at email@example.com, and she will put you on the email list.)
National Adoption Day
Ms. Lorrie Thompson was unable to attend today’s meeting. This item will remain on the agenda.
Ms. Jeannie Kee, Normalcy Workgroup Co-Chair, gave the Commission a status report on the Normalcy Workgroup. The Workgroup is close to completing their myth-buster document. Several Passion to Action youth have expressed additional concerns which they are trying to address.
The Workgroup’s hope is that their “myth-buster” document will be incorporated in the Guidelines for Foster Child Activities document (last updated in 2002). The Workgroup wants to recommend that that Guidelines document and the Youth Rights Manual be updated.
The Workgroup is working with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) regarding school activities, field trips, etc. They are looking to have pre-approved plans at the beginning of the school year if a child is going to be involved in sports or other activities that may require travel. The Workgroup is also asking for a clearer explanation for the overnight stays, but since some of the WACs are currently being updated, they want to wait to see what the changes are.
The Workgroup is planning to look at working with the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence and the Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA) to create a normalcy training workshop in their adolescent track trainings. They also hope to continue having Passion to Action speaking about their experiences and focus more specifically on normalcy. They will also continue trying to create a checklist for identifying the age-appropriate activities for the normal life of a child in care, and they are looking at examples from other states such as California, Idaho, and Texas. In addition, they are doing more research on potential strategies to give the caregivers the ability to use the prudent parent standards (for example, to allow the parent to permit the child to have a sleepover or a party). Lastly, they plan to start working on extended foster care normalcy for ages 18-21—on making recommendations they would like to see for that age group.
Mr. Bamberger asked about incorporating these issues into the Best Practices Report. Ms. Skreen suggested Mr. Tim Jaasko-Fisher be consulted because CITA will own the document, and they need to have a plan for how to best keep it updated. Justice Bridge suggested a letter could be written by her and Acting Asst. Secretary Strus to CITA suggesting that a plan be developed for where new best practices can be added to the report; Ms. Skreen and members agreed. Justice Bridge said they will do that and asked Ms. McLean to draft the letter.
Justice Bridge provided an update on WA-QIC. At the end of this month, CCYJ will be hosting a two-day training for a new group of treatment attorneys. The attorneys include those who were unable to attend the trainings last year, attorneys who recently rotated into the dependency division of the King County treatment agency, and those who have been recently recruited. They expect to train 10 attorneys.
They are also continuing their data collection. Chapin Hall (the research partner) continues go give kudos to everyone working on this project. They currently have a response rate of 95 percent from the attorneys involved (both experimental and control groups). That is in large part attributable to the fact that these attorneys want to participate because they want to learn how to make a difference in these cases.
Decision Makers Summit Progress
Ms. Alyson McLean, CCYJ Evans School Intern, gave an update on her “sunset review” of the Decision Makers Summit Report. She reported during the last three to four years, the following progress has been made on commitments to improve the child welfare system:
· 9 commitments have been completed
· 15 commitments have been completed though work towards them is ongoing
· 20 commitments have seen considerable progress and work is ongoing
· 2 commitments are no longer applicable
· 9 have seen little to no progress, and
· Despite success, 5 commitments are stalled due to funding cuts or budget restraints.
She said, in conclusion, the majority of them have made some progress through collaboration between entities, increase in trainings of entities involved in the lives of youth in care, and the inclusion of youth voice in the foster care system. Moving forward, she said despite some success some commitments have seen little progress or have been stalled due to state budget restraints, and they deserve to be readdressed when state funding improves. Those include:
· Providing funding for CASA
· Seeking funding to initiate a pilot project appointing attorneys for youth in dependency proceedings
· Investigating systematic causes for continuances, and
· Reviewing the legal definition of “parent.”
Judge van Doorninck said that Matt Orme’s work on timeliness is really going to help with this too. Ms. Carrie Wayno spoke about the Title 13 statute. Justice Bridge said this topic will be put on next meeting’s agenda once members have a chance to review the condensed report.
Creating a Foster Care Transitions Workgroup
There is no need to do anything at this time.
Discuss Parent Advocate Member
This selection is still pending. Justice Bridge pointed out that this member position has been authorized by court order now for over a year. She said they have tried numerous ways to recruit, and have continued to brainstorm and network for additional candidates. They currently have one promising candidate.
Child Maltreatment and Gender Violence Proposal
Justice Bridge reported on the options and asked members’ for their feedback and ideas, and there was group discussion.
Justice Bridge and Alyson will present the Child Maltreatment and Gender Violence Proposal to the Commission as soon as possible.
Update Commission Membership Roster
There have been several recent changes to the Commission membership roster. Justice Bridge circulated a draft of the new roster and asked members to make any needed updates to their contact information.
Other New Business
On behalf of Mr. Greg Williamson, Justice Bridge distributed a “Draft” of OSPI’s Report to the Legislature, Children in Foster Care: Cross System Collaboration for Stability and Improved Education Outcomes 2012, December 2012.
The next meeting is on May 20, 2013, at the Temple of Justice, Chief Justice’s Reception Room.
The Foster Youth and Alumni Leadership Summit is scheduled for June 24-26, 2013, at Seattle University. The Commission meeting will take place on June 26.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Susan Peterson, AOC
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