FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

thinking firmly planted as a guiding post, KFT introduced House Bill 1227. House Bill 1227, the Keeping Families Together Act, passed in Washington State during the 2021 session: the bill elevates the standard of removal from a reasonable cause, equating to a terry stop and frisk, to probable cause. 9 It also created a legal standard consistent with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which only permits the state to remove a child in an emergency to "prevent imminent physical damage or harm." 25 USC 1922. ICWA is the "gold standard" of child welfare practice. 10 If children must be removed, KFT recognizes that children do better in relative care than in state offices and hotels. 11 The legislation also codifies that the state must make efforts repeatedly to place them with a relative or suitable other. And upon the initial placement, while relatives work toward a foster care license, the state, for 90 days, will provide a foster care payment to subsidized cost until the relatives receive their initial license. Keeping our momentum going in support of kinship caregivers, in 2022 the coalition introduced HB 1747, prioritizing the relational permanency bill. Recent guidance from the federal Children's Bureau strongly urges state lawmakers to prioritize “relational permanency” in resolving dependency cases in ways that maintain a child with their family. 12 When a child is in a dependency case and cannot be returned home, the state should prioritize ending the case by maintaining that child in their family and preserving the child's family and community relationships. The termination of parental rights does not always lead to adoption, and children with extended family support do not necessarily need to be adopted to be safe and stable. Indeed, research shows that youth with a high level of need moved to a family placement are more likely to achieve permanency than youth with low needs who were never placed with a family. Informed by research, KFT leads legislation seeking an overhaul to family separation as an intervention for families experiencing hardships. Public Financing Shift For these approaches to be successful, public funding must shift to focus on keeping families

together. The child welfare systems across the country only allocate 10-15 percent of their public funding to what is loosely referred to as "prevention." Most public funding is diverted to late-stage interventions. This type of funding structure supports a late-stage, reactive system that only activates when the funding thresholds of "medical necessity" or "imminent risk" are breached. Reactive systems of this nature force family trauma to increase and ultimately costs far more than identifying and supporting potential solutions earlier in a family's journey and child's development. It is estimated the cost of nonfatal child maltreatment is $830,928 over a child's lifetime, according to Casey. 13 Truly addressing inequitable social systems that maintain racial disproportionality will require a profound shift in how the sector utilizes public funding to significantly increase prevention-based efforts, eliminate inequitable outcomes, and decrease the numbers of all families with child welfare involvement. This shift will be necessary to create new pathways to strengthen families and communities rather than responding after families have experienced severe trauma. This includes creating innovative braided and pooled prevention funding models ______________ 9 Washington State Legislature, Public Law, Protecting the rights of families responding to allegations of abuse or neglect of a child. , 2021. https://app.leg. vmmary?BillNumber=1227&Year=2021&Initiative=false 10 National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Indian Child Welfare Act Judicial Bench book. US Department of Justice , 2017, wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NCJFCJ_ICWA_Judicial_ Benchbook_Final_Web.pdf 11 Ingalls, Chris. “No Bed, No Blanket: Social Workers Blow Whistle on Washington Forcing Foster Youth to Sleep in Cars, Offices as Punishment.” , 2021, no-bed-no-blanket-social-workers-blow-whistle-on- state-forcing-foster-youth-to-sleep-in-cars-offices- as-punishment/281-ae353838-1cf0-48bb-991e-17- 9e70cc20cb#.~.text=A%20four-month%20KING%20 5%20investigation%20found%20a%20years-long 12 “Informational Memorandum: Achieving Permanency for the Well-being of Children and Youth.” https://www. pdf. Accessed 24 April. 2022. 13 Casey Family Programs. Transforming Child Welfare Systems: What do we know about the return on investment in preventing child maltreatment? 2019, https:// TS_Research-return-on-investment-maltreatment- prevention.pdf

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