Washington State House Democrats


Senn Bill to Expand Access to Developmental Disability Services for Foster Youth Signed into Law

bill signingOLYMPIA—Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1188 into law today to provide better support to children in foster care with developmental disabilities. The legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), ensures that children involved with child welfare will have equitable access to developmental disability services just like their peers.    

According to Senn, “To think that children with developmental disabilities in foster care — in our state’s care — didn’t have access to needed services until now is shocking!” She added, “We know early interventions are so impactful. Access to these services will give our foster youth and their families more tools and supports to succeed in life.”   

Prior to the bill’s passing, foster youth in Washington were unable to access developmental disability services, despite having no less need for them than any other youth. The bill will expand multiple waiver services, including the Children’s Intensive In-Home Behavior Support Services waiver, and require Medicaid waiver services to be provided to eligible individuals who have received or are receiving certain specified child welfare services no later than December 1, 2024.   

House Bill 1188 also directs DDA to explore 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.   

 Receiving interventions earlier in life can reduce the need for continued intensive services like special education, hospital stays, and extended stays in foster care. 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.   

“Coordinated Care is thrilled to see this legislation pass. This addresses the gap that so many of our foster care children and youth have experienced over the last several years. We know providing these services will better promote permanency and well-being,” says Andrea Davis, Vice President of Government Relations and Communications at Coordinated Care, which provides health care for foster youth across the state. 

With the signing of this bill, Gov. Inslee and Rep. Senn have taken an important step towards ensuring that children in foster care with developmental disabilities have equitable access to critical services, just like any other child in Washington.