In the midst of the ongoing crisis in the Washington foster care system, foster parents have few options when faced with what they consider retaliation. Officials from the Department Children, Youth and Families, Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds, Republican Senator Steve O’Ban and Democractic Rep. Tana Senn weigh in on whether foster parents should be afforded whistleblower protections.
Inmates at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex who are alumni of the foster-care system convened a conference that brought together officials of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Treehouse, a retired King County Juvenile Court Judge and members of the community to talk about ending the foster-care-to-prison pipeline.
After a report by a government-appointed watchdog group found Washington foster kids sent to a group home in Iowa were mistreated, InvestigateWest documents how dozens of other Washington foster kids remain at group homes in South Carolina, Wyoming and Michigan that also appear to have mistreated children, according to reports from oversight agencies in other states.
In what may prove a watershed moment for the state’s foster care system, Washington’s Supreme Court found the state has a broad duty to protect foster children from abuse. The decision in favor of five young women who were sexually, physically and psychologically abused provides a stronger legal footing for other foster children suing the state, which already has paid out hundreds of millions of dollar in similar abuse cases.
Youths entrusted to Washington’s foster-care system have endured “abusive” practices in a jail-like Iowa group home that inappropriately used painful physical restraints on children, according to a new report by a government-designated watchdog group.
The report, released today by the nonprofit Disability Rights Washington, documents numerous instances in which youths between the ages of 14 and 16 were held down by three or more workers. One child’s glasses were broken when staffers pushed the youth to the floor, and another was restrained for 45 minutes.
Abused and neglected kids in Washington State’s overwhelmed foster care system were housed at hotels and state offices at a higher rate than ever over the last year, new figures show — a practice that costs taxpayers millions. The state reports spending more than $2,100 nightly for each hotel stay, on average.
Kinship caregivers such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and close family care for an estimated 43,000 children in Washington State. Without kinship care, these children would enter the already stretched thin Washington state foster care system. But although these kinship caregivers tend to be older, poorer and in worse health than foster parent counterparts, they receive comparatively little financial support from the state.
Washington this year became the first state to provide financial assistance for foster youth to enter into apprenticeship programs that experts say provide hope and a paycheck for traumatized young people who otherwise are more likely to drop out of school or be jailed. Meanwhile, a June 2017 executive order by President Donald Trump may also help foster youth land apprenticeships.
Washington State legislature is considering a bill that would phase out detention of youth for non-criminal offenses including truancy. Opponents of the bill say Judges need detention as a last resort to get kids to comply with court orders, while others say these punishments are detrimental to the welfare and growth of the children.
Washington foster parents are organizing to demand more respect from the state, saying they should get at least some consideration when legal decisions are made about what happens to the kids in their care. They lost on that measure this year, although several other pieces of legislation designed to help foster kids remain alive this year.