Record numbers of foster children are sleeping in hotels and state offices as Washington State struggles to find beds for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges. Having previously sent some of the hardest-to-place foster youths to out-of-state homes, the state is now working to bring them back, but it’s facing a lack of qualified in-state facilities in part due to low payment rates by the state.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Foster kids and foster parents in Washington state have something to celebrate as state officials carry out legislative orders, backed with extra millions in funding, to overhaul the state’s beleaguered foster-care system