Legislative News from Representative Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle)

June 30, 2017

Legislature passes landmark bill to help children, youth and families succeed

OLYMPIA – The way government is organized signals its priorities. The legislature took a big step to make children, youth and families a priority for state government. With strong bipartisan support, the legislature passed House Bill 1661 to create the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The bill restructures existing early learning, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies into a single department that emphasizes prevention, reports directly to the Governor and is accountable for improving outcomes for children.

“The Department of Early Learning was created a decade ago and has greatly improved the quality of early learning programs across the state” said Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle), prime sponsor of HB 1661 and chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. “This bill builds on that success to assure the most vulnerable children, youth and families receive effective prevention and intervention services.”

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families will have an office of accountability and innovation to help drive reform and ensure that investments are used efficiently and effectively. Relying on data-driven and research-based practices will link kids with the right services at the right time to promote healthy development.

“The current system is failing too many children and young people involved in foster care,” continued Rep. Kagi. “This new department will implement changes to value and respect parents and foster parents, increase stability and permanency for children, intervene early to help families stay together and make sure that young people are supported as they transition into adulthood.”

Washington State House Democrats

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