Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to remind you that on Thursday, Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Alex Ybarra and I will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting. If you would like to participate, you can register here. You can submit questions in advance when you register.
The three of us will provide a session update and take questions from you, 13th District residents.
If you're unable to join us on Thursday, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments regarding the Legislature or state government issues. My district office number is (509) 941-2346, or you can email me at email@example.com.
We look forward to visiting with you on Thursday.
Department of Children, Youth and Families Oversight Board
Since the Legislature created the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in 2017, I have been serving on the DCYF Oversight Board and I am currently the co-chair.
It was important to include the board as part of that legislation, not only for oversight purposes, but to ensure there is transparency and accountability moving forward with the new agency. The board was created because of extensive problems we have had with many of the youth and children's divisions of the Department of Social and Health Services.
Unfortunately, despite the new agency, there are still issues we are working through. It makes the Oversight Board that much more important. We need to make sure our youth are receiving the proper intervention and prevention services. The pandemic has made this more difficult as it has increased the challenges of our youth with mental health.
I had hoped to improve one of the subcommittees under the board this session as well as implement legislation to utilize a caregiver liaison within the department. I had two bills moving in the Legislature but neither were voted out of the House before the cutoff date. However, there could be an opportunity to include one or both in the budget.
- House Bill 1936 would streamline the Oversight Board and add a subcommittee to ensure we are filling these important positions with qualified individuals while still keeping youth involved in the process.
- House Bill 1945 would require the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to develop and implement a caregiver liaison program for improving communication between the department, caregivers, and primarily foster parents. The issue around the foster child Oakley Carlson has brought the lack of communication between the DCYF and foster parents to light.
It is imperative our Oversight Board be diligent with the operations and actions of DCYF. Despite my legislation not moving this session, I will continue to work hard and ensure this a priority moving forward.
If you are involved, concerned or just want to be aware of what is happening with the DCYF Oversight Board, I encourage you to sign up for the newsletter by clicking here.
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It is an honor to serve the great folks of the 13th Legislative District!