Washington State House Democrats


Senn Bill to Connect Foster Youth to DD Services Passes Unanimously in the House

OLYMPIA — Foster youth have no less need for developmental disability services than any other youth, yet in Washington State, foster youth can’t access developmental disability services. Washington State House Representative Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) sponsored House Bill 1188 to change that. Her bill to connect foster youth to developmental disability services passed unanimously in the House on Tuesday, February 28.  

Children in foster care and their families face substantial challenges: accessing developmental disabilities services should not be one of them. “It is outlandish that kids with developmental disabilities are not receiving the services they need simply because they are in foster care,” said Senn. “These services, such as positive behavior supports, specialized equipment or skilled nursing, may prove to be the critical intervention families need to stay together or reunite.” 

Receiving interventions earlier in life reduces the need for deeper-end services for the youth later in life. In fact, the inability of youth to access necessary developmental disability services can exacerbate their challenges and have severe systemic consequences, including putting pressure on children’s hospitals and the behavioral health system.  

House Bill 1188 will create a new developmental disabilities waiver specifically for youth involved in the child welfare system, ensuring these services are provided to all those that seek them. “It’s our job to care for the most vulnerable among us—children with disabilities who are involved in the child welfare system certainly fit that bill. This will make our communities more inclusive, supportive, and compassionate to every child in Washington,” said Senn.

House Bill 1188 will now advance to the Senate for consideration.