In addition to the shortage of foster homes in Washington state, foster parents often cite retaliation by state case workers as a major issue. Widespread enough to be acknowledged by state child-welfare officials, these punitive measures can involve threats to remove foster children or reduce monthly state support payments. This is creating a culture of fear among foster parents and further exacerbate the foster care crisis in Washington state.
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.
InvestigateWest’s sustained in-depth coverage of a crisis of historic proportions in Washington state’s foster care system was instrumental in spurring six new state laws, including one setting up a new state agency to renew state efforts to help abused and neglected children and teenagers. The work also spurred $48 million in new state funding for the foster care system.
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.
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 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.
Housing abused and neglected children in Washington state is costing up to $600 a night in some cases, a clear indication that the state’s foster care system is dysfunctional, according to data obtained by InvestigateWest. The main reason is that there are far too few foster parents to handle the number of young people in the state care. With demand high, a small number of foster homes can reap huge financial benefits.