News Release Listing
Contact: Jennifer Struss, Assistant Secretary, Children's Administration,
Contact: Mindy Chambers, Office of Communications,
July 23, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES STATEMENT ON BRAAM RULING
The Department of Social and Health Services Children's Administration has the following statement on Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder's ruling Monday that the Department must come into strict compliance with eight of 21 outcome measures in the 2011 Revised Settlement Agreement under the 1998 Braam v. Washington lawsuit, related to the state's foster care system.
According to Judge Snyder, the Department of Social and Health Services Children's Administration's has made enormous strides in improving the state’s foster care system in since the initial Braam decision.
Among the improvements DSHS has made are reducing the number of placements for foster children, increasing the number of siblings placed together in foster care, and making sure foster children have annual health screenings. Specifically, 86 percent of children with brothers and sisters were placed with those brothers and sisters in foster care and 95 percent of children received a monthly health and safety visit from a social worker in 2013.
We agree with the Judge's remarks that the Department's undertaking to bring about this fundamental change should not be underestimated, and its progress has been remarkable. Because of that, he said, children in foster care in the state are well-served.
In order to continue its progress, the Department will move forward with a request in the 2015 Legislature to allow it to meet the strict compliance with the Braam agreement. “We can't get there without additional funding,” said Children's Administration Assistant Secretary Jennifer Strus, noting that Children's has experienced substantial budget cuts over the years, even as it has improved the state's foster care system, such as better serving the educational needs of children in out-of-home care.
DSHS and the Governor's Office remain committed to reporting on progress in complying with all of the measures. The Court recognized the progress that has been made and plans to review data submitted by the Department a year from now.
DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.