Olympia – Today, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) submitted a revised Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to the federal Children’s Bureau. The plan details the agency’s child welfare approach to improving safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children and families, as well as significantly reducing the number of children in out-of-home care.
The revised PIP incorporates feedback received from federal partners since an initial revision was submitted in January 2020.
“The primary changes in this revised PIP are related to an emphasis on Court partnership and judicial involvement in strategies to support permanency outcomes,” states Ross Hunter, DCYF Secretary. “While also enhancing strategies related to supervisory coaching and critical thinking and developing strategies to address access and availability of physical and behavioral health services to meet the identified needs of children, youth and families.”
DCYF submitted its initial proposed PIP to the Children’s Bureau in May 2019. Since then, negotiations have been occurring with the Children’s Bureau to address the performance areas identified in the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) of key areas of Washington’s child welfare programs and practices.
The purpose of the CFSR is to ensure substantial conformity with federal standards and understand what is happening to children and families engaged in child welfare services. Additionally, the CFSR assist in enhancing the agency’s capacity to achieve positive outcomes by identifying strengths and areas needing improvement.
“Washington’s PIP is focused on getting back to basics,” explains Steven F. Grilli, DCYF Director of Child Welfare Programs. “The PIP addresses areas needing improvement by reinforcing and enhancing the current tools and structure available to our staff; streamlining, aligning and integrating processes; and providing practice support to recapture and strengthen core social work practice.”
Throughout this process, DCYF engaged with various stakeholders, including staff, leadership, Tribes, parents, youth, judicial officers, the Administrative Office of the Courts and caregivers statewide to provide feedback in problem identification, root cause analysis and the development of goals, strategies and activities.
Ongoing negotiations with the federal Children’s Bureau will continue before the PIP is approved. Once the plan is finalized, the agency will have two years to implement the identified improvements.