“All children deserve the opportunity to be successful. This session House Democrats have demonstrated incredible leadership on this front – ensuring that all Washington’s children, even those who live in poverty, are in foster care or who need a second chance have the opportunity to succeed.
“There are over 32,000 homeless children in our state. This is unacceptable. Many cycle in and out of homelessness and struggle to find resources for shelter, food, clothing and education. House Democrats passed the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act to help prevent child homelessness and invest in stable housing, education and employment opportunities; develop positive, permanent connections between homeless youth and adults; and to address the emotional well-being of homeless young people.
“Foster children have no family or parents to care for them. They have to endure endless challenges and trauma. Because of this many foster children suffer from complex health and mental health issues. This session, House Democrats passed an important bill to ensure foster children have access to coordinated managed health and mental health services that will help them address the challenges they face.
“Ten years ago when foster children turned 18, many left their foster homes only to become homeless. This session, House Democrats closed the final loophole in our extended foster care system, providing help and resources for many more foster children as they age out of the system and assuring they have a path to a productive future.
“All children who make mistakes, rich or poor, deserve a second chance. Our current system of court fines has kept too many youth from having their juvenile records sealed. Our laws have allowed courts to charge thousands of dollars in court fees to a sentence, so only youthful offenders who have the means to pay are able to move on with their lives. House Democrats passed the YEAR Act to remedy this injustice and give all eligible youth the opportunity to seal their records, not just those from families who can pay.
“High quality childcare and early learning are critical to a child’s future success. The path starts long before he or she ever sets foot in a kindergarten classroom. But there are thousands of children in Washington who do not have access to these programs. House Democrats have made quality childcare and early learning a priority, expanding access and increasing quality through both our budget and Early Start.”