In the State of Washington, when it comes to protecting the interest of children that are at risk of abuse, we believe that the key factors are management oversight and money.

In our view, management consists of aspects such as:

  • Ensuring that qualified management and staff are hired,
  • Ongoing training to become better at jobs,
  • Implementing technology to:
  • Identify and better screen foster parent applicants,
  • Identify relationships among individuals connected with foster parents who may pose a threat to those in foster care, and
  • Better monitor those placed in foster care.

In order to implement effective programs, adequate funds must be made available.

What Happens When Adequate Funds are Not Provided?

When adequate funds are not provided, DSHS must make choices concerning how to allocate the limited funds available. Fewer Child Protective Services (CPS) workers may be hired, which increases the average caseload for each employee. Ongoing training may be decreased or eliminated. Technological programs that may have helped identify dangerous conditions may not be implemented.

Unfortunately, when adequate funds are not made available, often the result is a dangerous, increased risk to children in foster care and to those living in volatile environments. At some point, when CPS workers are overloaded with work and cannot properly investigate referrals, or when DSHS fails to properly investigate potential foster parents or to conduct ongoing monitoring of those in foster care, children are harmed. When the state is negligent, it must be held accountable.

Changing Dangerous Situations

In our experience, a significant way for change to occur is through the imposition of large damage awards.  When damage awards exceed the cost of properly funding programs, the state will have a strong incentive to save money by properly funding and managing the programs in the first place, rather than paying even larger damage awards later.

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