The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) was created in 2017. In 2018, DCYF assumed responsibility over child welfare and early learning functions previously held by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the Department of Early Learning. On July 1, 2019, DCYF assumed responsibility over juvenile justice programs previously administered by DSHS.
DCYF administers child protective and child welfare services provided to families to protect children from child abuse and neglect.
If an individual suspects that a child has been abused or neglected, that abuse or neglect can be reported to DCYF Child Protective Services (CPS) office or to law enforcement. If CPS determines that the report is credible and meets screening criteria, it will assign either a 24-hour investigation response or 72-hour family assessment response, depending on the severity of the allegation.
Abuse or neglect means sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or injury of a child by any person under circumstances which cause harm to the child's health, welfare, or safety, excluding conduct permitted by law; or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child. An abused child is a child who has been subjected to child abuse or neglect.
Anyone, including DCYF, may file a petition in court alleging a child should be a dependent of the state due to abuse, neglect, or because there is no parent, guardian, or custodian capable of adequately caring for the child. If a court determines a child is dependent, the court will conduct periodic reviews and make determinations regarding the child's placement, provision of services by DCYF, compliance of the parents, and whether progress has been made by the parents.
By September 1, 2023, DCYF, in consultation with the Department of Health, is to produce and make available to DCYF staff a child malnutrition guide.
The child malnutrition guide must:
PRO: This bill creates a child malnutrition field guide for CPS and field workers of DCYF. Kids die of malnutrition and workers are understaffed and overwhelmed. A young man died in 2020 of child malnutrition. Food was used as a weapon and there were red flags but they were overlooked. The Office of Family and Children Ombuds, who conducts child fatality reviews, recommended a child malnutrition guide would be helpful. In this instance, CPS workers didn't know what child malnutrition looked like. The hope is to help save lives of kids in the future.