HOUSE BILL REPORT
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
As Passed Legislature
Title: An act relating to implementing a program of tiered classification for foster parent licensing.
Brief Description: Implementing a tiered classification system for foster parent licensing.
Sponsors: By House Committee on Appropriations (originally sponsored by Representatives Kagi, Haler, Roberts, Walsh, Pettigrew, Dickerson, Conway, Green, Goodman, Kenney, Wood and Ormsby).
Early Learning & Children's Services: 1/29/08, 2/1/08 [DPS];
Appropriations: 2/8/08, 2/11/08 [DP2S(w/o sub ELCS)].
Passed House: 2/15/08, 72-22.
Passed Senate: 3/6/08, 46-2.
House Refused to Concur.
Passed Senate: 3/12/08, 47-0.
Passed House: 3/13/08, 96-0.
Brief Summary of Engrossed Second Substitute Bill
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EARLY LEARNING & CHILDREN'S SERVICES
Majority Report: The substitute bill be substituted therefor and the substitute bill do pass. Signed by 6 members: Representatives Kagi, Chair; Roberts, Vice Chair; Haler, Ranking Minority Member; Walsh, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Goodman and Pettigrew.
Minority Report: Without recommendation. Signed by 1 member: Representative Hinkle.
Staff: Sydney Forrester (786-7120).
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
Majority Report: The second substitute bill be substituted therefor and the second substitute bill do pass and do not pass the substitute bill by Committee on Early Learning & Children's Services. Signed by 21 members: Representatives Sommers, Chair; Dunshee, Vice Chair; Cody, Conway, Darneille, Ericks, Fromhold, Grant, Green, Haigh, Hunt, Kagi, Kenney, Kessler, Linville, McIntire, Morrell, Pettigrew, Schual-Berke, Seaquist and Sullivan.
Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 11 members: Representatives Alexander, Ranking Minority Member; Bailey, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Haler, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Anderson, Chandler, Hinkle, Kretz, Priest, Ross, Schmick and Walsh.
Staff: Kelci Karl-Robinson (786-7109).
In 2007 the Legislature enacted HB 1624 creating a work group to study the need for and feasibility of creating tiered classifications for foster parent licensing, including a professional foster parent classification. The work group was facilitated by the Assistant Secretary of the Children's Administration (CA) of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Executive Director of the Northwest Institute for Children and Families (NW Institute) at the University of Washington (UW).
Work group members included representation from the Legislature; Indian tribes; foster parents; the Foster Parent Association of Washington State (FPAWS); child welfare professionals; Partners for our Children at the UW; and the Washington Federation of State Employees. The work group met five times and held two stakeholder meetings. In addition, two subcommittees of the work group each met three times.
The draft report from the work group was published January 25, 2007, and included the following recommendations:
(1) The foster care level system should be re-examined for the overall foster care system.
(2) A specific model of skill-building should be selected for use by specialized foster parents who serve children with behavioral issues.
(3) The CA should work with foster parents, the UW School of Social Work, and child-serving agencies to further refine a number of specifics relating to implementation of a specialized foster parent program.
Issues identified for further work include the selection process and criteria for specialized foster parents; managing the risks of reduced permanency; how specialized foster parents would fit in the continuum of services for children; and federal funding and individual income tax implications.
Summary of Engrossed Second Substitute Bill:
Specialized Foster Home Program
The DSHS must select two or more geographic areas for implementing an intensive resource foster home pilot program (program). In determining the scope of phase one, the DSHS must examine areas where there are high concentrations of children with significant needs in foster care; consider areas of appropriate size that will allow for an analysis of the impact of the program on the continuum of out-of-home care providers; and determine the number of children to be served. Implementation of the initial sites should be undertaken with the goal of eventual expansion of the program statewide.
The DSHS must seek recommendations from foster parents and other out-of-home care service providers regarding the qualifications and requirements of intensive resource home providers; the needs of children who will be served in the program; and the desired outcomes to be measured or monitored. The DSHS must also consult experts in child welfare, children's mental health, and children's health care to identify evidence-based or promising practice models to be utilized in the program, including the appropriate support to be provided to intensive resource home providers to ensure program fidelity.
Using the recommendations from foster parents, the consultations with professionals from appropriate disciplines, and information from the specialized foster parent work group, the DSHS must:
(1) define the criteria for intensive resource home providers;
(2) define the criteria for identifying children eligible for placement with intensive resource home providers;
(3) establish rules for placement of children in intensive resource homes, including a limit on the number of children who may be placed;
(4) identify one or more models of skill-building to be used by intensive resource home providers;
(5) specify training, consultation, supervision, and supports to be provided to intensive resource home providers;
(6) develop a tiered payment system which may include a stipend to the provider to account for the additional responsibilities intensive resource home providers have with regard to the children placed in their care. Until such time as the DSHS has developed the tiered payment system, payments to intensive home providers under exceptional cost plans shall pay only for special services or supplies provided to the child but not to reimburse the provider for services provided to the child under the contract. A stipend of not more than $500 per month may be used to reimburse the provider for services he or she provides directly to the child;
(7) establish clearly defined responsibilities for intensive resource home providers; and
(8) develop a process for annual performance reviews of intensive resource home providers.
Beginning on or before October 1, 2008, the DSHS must begin selecting and negotiating contracts with intensive resource home providers. Contracts must specify at least the following elements:
(1) the model of treatment and care to be provided;
(2) the training and ongoing professional consultation to be provided;
(3) the method for determining any additional supports to be provided to the child or the intensive resource home provider;
(4) the desired outcomes to be measured;
(5) a reasonable and efficient process for seeking a modification to the contract;
(6) the rate and terms of payment under the contract; and
(7) the process for an annual performance review of the intensive resource home provider and an annual assessment of the child.
The DSHS must report to the Legislature and the Governor with an implementation status update by January 30, 2009, and with recommendations for phasing in a statewide expansion of the program by September 1, 2009. The recommendations for expansion must identify the essential elements of the intensive resource home program that should be addressed or replicated as the program is expanded to the next phase.
Implementation of the program is limited to not more than 75 intensive resource homes and use of only those funds specifically appropriated for the pilot program. The DSHS also shall allocate $200,000 of the appropriation to contract with an agency working in partnership with the University of Washington School of Social Work to implement the mockingbird model of foster care support in areas of the state not currently served by this model.
Fiscal Note: Preliminary available on substitute bill. No fiscal note requested on second substitute bill.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed. However, the bill is null and void unless funded in the budget.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony: (Early Learning & Children's Services)
(In support of original bill) The work group convened to study the area of professional foster parents did a good deal of work over the interim regarding how best to establish a specialized foster parent program. It was important to assure that whatever mechanisms were created, we would not jeopardize permanency for children. This is an extremely complex program category because the existing system is complex. This bill is not drafted as a pilot because it's not intended to be a pilot. Because of the need to move forward in a very thoughtful and measured way, we want to phase in the program in areas where there are concentrations of foster parents serving children with significant needs.
The program will help us to address some of the biggest concerns around hard-to-serve children who may experience numerous placements because foster parents do not have the necessary skills to support these kids. There are many children in foster care who need significant amounts of support. This bill will lead to more stability and will improve care for children. There already is a kind of self-selected group of foster parents serving these kids.
This bill is excellent but is missing the teeth it needs to address a crisis in the system. There should be a union of specialized foster parents. Highly skilled foster parents can help avert tragedies like keeping kids out of prison. Foster parents want to be recognized as professionals. Research supports investing in early child education, and the medically fragile children in the foster care system are some of the most at-risk children. We need a guarantee that the CA can effectively recruit and retain qualified professional foster homes.
(With concerns on original bill) The subcommittee of the workgroup recommended a contractual program versus a separate licensing category. Contractual obligations should be established on both sides because we want to be sure the consultation and professional supports are available to specialized foster parents. We also want to be very clear about the expectations and obligations of specialized foster parents who are selected. The time lines in the report are aggressive. There still is a good deal of consultation and collaboration needed with the appropriate entities.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony: (Appropriations)
(In support of substitute bill) This bill is a milestone in foster care; people have been talking about such a program for the past 20 years. There are a lot of children in foster care with significant physical and mental challenges. It is difficult to place these children in foster care or adoption, which leads to many placement disruptions. Informally, a specialized class of foster parents has developed to care for children with high needs. The bill would create a structure, standards, and accountability for what is already being done. Collective bargaining is an important element of the bill. The Department of Social and Health Services is authorized to set the aspects of the contracts; therefore, the foster parents need to have balanced representation. Only the small subset of contracted foster parents with a special set of skills would be included in the bargaining unit.
Persons Testifying: (Early Learning & Children's Services) (In support of original bill)
Dennis Eagle, Washington Federation of State Employees and Foster Parent Association of
Washington State; Elizabeth Rich; and Mary-Jeanne Smith, Foster Parent Association of
(With concerns on original bill) Cheryl Stephani, Department of Social and Health Services - Children's Administration.
Persons Testifying: (Appropriations) (In support of substitute bill) Representative Kagi, prime sponsor; Dennis Eagle, Washington Federation of State Employees; and Steve Baxter, Foster Parents Association of Washington.