The bill will raise the standard of potential harm the agency must prove to remove a child, ensure that services be available to parents who want them, prioritize placements with relatives, and require the agency to offer financial supports for relative care while working to help them be licensed as foster care providers.
“The changes proposed by HB1227 are fully in line with our intention to safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care and provide a pathway to do that,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter.
DCYF has safely reduced the number of children in care by 18% since 2017. The agency and its leadership are committed to continuing to lower the number of children in out-of-home care and to eliminating the racial disparities observed in the entire child welfare system.
In a typical year, DCYF receives more than 125,000 calls reporting suspected child abuse or neglect that require dozens of safety assessments for each case. Today, millions of decisions are made based on that outdated decision-making process.
The agency estimates it will take two years to update that system. It will require rewriting administrative rules and policy, retraining thousands of caseworkers, putting new information technology systems in place, and ensuring prevention services are available when ordered by the court.
“To successfully implement HB1227 and safely reduce the number of children coming into care, we must update this entire system to support a decision-making process that prioritizes safety and eliminates racial bias, both implicit and explicit,” Hunter said.
DCYF is committed to reducing the number of children coming to care by:
- Increasing the availability of in-home supports and services to stabilize families and prevent abuse and neglect prior to it occurring.
- Improving the safety assessment to make better decisions.
- Ensuring consistency of quality decision-making with investments in continuous quality improvement (CQI).
For children that cannot safely remain in their home, DCYF is committed to reducing the trauma children experience and the length of stay in out-of-home care by:
- Increasing the percentage of kinship placements significantly, resulting in much better outcomes for children and shorter stays in care.
- Providing high-quality services to families so that it will be safe for children to return home.
- Improving the complex court process that results in significant delays.
DCYF’s Draft Strategic and Racial Equity Plan prioritizes prevention work, focusing on providing resources to families so they thrive. DCYF’s Prevention Plan is one of the most extensive plans in the nation and one of the first to be approved by the Children’s Bureau. DCYF believes HB1227, along with implementation of these plans, will result in positive outcomes for the children and families served by the agency.
“Keeping children at home, when it is safe to do so, is our top priority, and this bill reorients the system toward prevention,” said Hunter. “This bill will hold us accountable to deliver prevention services, be diligent in pursuing alternatives to out-of-home placements, and keep children within their communities.”
The above is a press release from DCYF. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content.