On Feb. 18, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order that sets in motion a new structure for delivering services to children.
A new cabinet agency will be charged with overseeing the services the state provides to vulnerable children and families. Many of these services are currently administered by the Washington state Department of Social & Health Services.
“Of all the resources we have in the state of Washington, our children are by far the most precious. But while we have entire state agencies dedicated to priorities like natural resources, revenue, and transportation, we do not have a department specifically dedicated to our children,” Inslee said. “Today, we are beginning the process to change that.”
Growing evidence from states, such as New Jersey, Tennessee, and Indiana, that have created separate children’s departments, suggest better outcomes due to the improved focus, visibility, and accountability on children’s services.
The idea to create a separate agency for child welfare was first introduced by legislators in 1988 and numerous proposals have been passed since then. In 2007, a Joint Task Force on Administration and Delivery to Services of Children and Families did an extensive review of the idea and recommended the state create a separate department.
Washington state made a similar move in 2007 to boost early learning by creating a Department of Early Learning.
Inslee’s executive order creates a blue ribbon commission on the delivery of services to children and families.
The commission is tasked with sending the legislature recommendations for the organizational structure, cost estimates for IT and capital, and measurable benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of the new department. The commission’s report is due Nov. 1. (end)
For more information, visit governor.wa.gov.