March 2, 2021
The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families’ (DCYF) draft Strategic and Racial Equity Plan is now available on our website. As an agency, it is our task to prevent harm to children and youth – as far upstream as possible. Threaded throughout this draft plan are investments in services and practices designed to prevent children and families from going deeper into our service array, and to move them out of higher tiers of service as soon as possible. Thanks to active input from staff, stakeholders, tribal partners, and community members, DCYF has a strategic vision and plan to integrate and align the work of our agency.
The initial 2020 draft plan focused on five strategic priorities. With the integration of the Racial Equity Plan, DCYF is now focusing on six agency priorities over the next five years:
- Eliminate racial disproportionalities and advance racial equity
- Safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care
- Create successful transitions to adulthood for youth and young adults in our care
- Create a high-quality integrated birth through age 8 (B-8) system
- Improve quality and intention of our practice
- Improve quality and availability of provider services
The first priority touches everything we do as an agency; the next three relate to our goals for children, youth, and families; and the final two relate to building necessary agency capacity to accomplish the first four.
We recently hosted three deep-dive webinars expanding on these priorities, which are now available on the DCYF website. If you were unable to attend and provide feedback at the webinars, you can still add your voice to the conversation by filling out this survey.
During these most challenging times, DCYF remains grateful for the dedication and commitment of our foster and kinship caregivers, who are taking such great care of children placed in out-of-home care.
We are excited to announce DCYF and the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence have signed a new agreement, which supports the launch of the Caregiver Retention, Education, and Support (CaRES) program on Monday, March 15.
Under this partnership, the Alliance will provide:
- Management of prospective foster parent inquiries
- First placement support
- Peer mentoring
- Robust resources
- Ways to connect on social media
- Foster Intervention, Retention, and Support Team (FIRST)
DCYF’s Office of Innovation, Alignment, and Accountability (OIAA), in partnership with the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) and the Office of Tribal Relations, has released its most recent report, Using Data in DCYF to Advance Racial Equity. This report presents an agencywide integrated approach to collecting and reporting data on race/ethnicity, equity, disproportionality, and disparity, and describes how we as an agency can create a common data approach for successfully advancing and measuring improvements in racial equity in a coordinated way across DCYF.
The report concentrates on two areas:
- Understanding race and ethnicity data as they are presently used within DCYF and establishing agency standards for collecting and reporting race/ethnicity data.
- Identifying race and ethnic disproportionality and disparity across DCYF programs and related outcomes.
Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) services were designated essential by Gov. Inslee in the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order issued in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, essential ECEAP services continued throughout the pandemic.
Statewide, a handful of ECEAP sites continued essential in-person ECEAP services from the beginning of the pandemic until the end of the contract year on June 30, or for a major portion of those weeks. Sites that remained open followed DOH guidelines to ensure safety of children, families, and staff. All contractors, regardless of whether or not they kept classrooms open, continued to provide services to 14,000 ECEAP children and their families across Washington State in a wide variety of ways, through increased hybrid and Non-Traditional/Modified Services. These services provided remote learning options and resources, including food, education, health and safety, parenting, economic, and mental health supports
ECEAP staff increased their visits and points of contact and connection with families to decrease isolation and risk. Given the ongoing pandemic in 2020-21, ECEAP contractors are working to provide an array of services that best meet the needs of children, families, and communities across Washington.
To learn more about ECEAP across the state, read the full ECEAP Services by Legislative District report.