- National Center for Youth Law - https://youthlaw.org -

Braam Foster Care Reform Shows Continuing Progress

Placement Stability Goal Fully Reached

The Braam panel [1], which oversees the reform of Washington State’s foster care system [2], released its report [3] covering progress made in the second half of 2011. The report details compliance with 21 outcomes set forth in the Revised Agreement signed in October of 2011.

For the first time in almost seven years, the State has reached full and final compliance on a number of outcomes required under the Agreement.

The three outcomes for which the State has fully complied for 18 months are:

  1. Placement Stability (more than 90 percent of children must experience two or fewer placements in the first two years in care). Placement instability was one of the key reasons for the filing of the Braam lawsuit. 2011 is the first year that more than 90 percent of children experienced two or fewer placements in their first two years in care.
  2. Timely Child Health and Education Tracking (CHET) screens (more than 90 percent of children must have completed CHET screens within 30 days of entering care). CHET screens, which have been required by law since 1994, are comprehensive early assessments of child functioning in multiple areas. The State was providing timely CHET screens to only 22 percent of children in 2005, but by 2010, this had increased to 78 percent. In 2011, compliance was at 92 percent (though a change in methodology makes comparison to previous years impossible).
  3. Ratio of Licensed Foster Care Beds to Children (State must have two licensed beds for every child in licensed care). The State has consistently met this requirement, with the ratio rising from 2.3 in 2005 to 2.6 in the last half of 2011.

“Compliance in these areas represents real progress in the State’s child welfare system over the past seven years,” commented children’s attorney Casey Trupin, of Columbia Legal Services. “There is still a ways to go in other areas, but the hard work is paying off, and the process is working.”

Columbia Legal Services is plaintiffs’ counsel in the reform case along with NCYL and Tim Farris, a private attorney in Bellingham, WA.

Progress continues in other areas. For example:

Still other areas show significant reason for concern:

The Panel’s report can be viewed at www.braampanel.org/reports.asp [4].

The next report will cover progress for the first six months of 2012. The Agreement is scheduled to expire after 2013. More background information can be found at www.braamkids.org [5] and www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/about/imp_settlement.asp [6].