DCYF's Caregiver Connection - April 2021 Wrap-Up

Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families sent this bulletin at 05/04/2021 10:39 AM PDT

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May is Foster Care Month

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The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) joins the nation in celebrating National Foster Care Month, a time dedicated to recognizing those who play an essential role in the lives of children and youth in out-of-home care.

Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed May as Foster Care Month in Washington.

DCYF recognizes the 7,000 or so children in out-of-home care, our licensed foster homes and kinship caregivers. We also acknowledge the DCYF staff and partners who commit to the agency’s mission to protect children and strengthen so they flourish.

Join us in celebrating Foster Care Month!

Caregiver Survey: We Want to Hear from You

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Every year, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) contracts the Washington State Survey Office to survey foster parents and kinship caregivers about their satisfaction with the support and training provided by the agency.

This notice is to inform you that beginning April 12, someone on the survey team may call you if you are among the randomly chosen caregivers asked to participate in the study. Your honest feedback will help us make improvements or changes to policies that could be implemented in the future. Some of the things you may be asked include:

  • Treatment by staff
  • Social worker involvement
  • Agency’s responsiveness
  • Adequate information about the needs of children
  • Inclusiveness
  • Reimbursements
  • Training

To learn more about the study or read past reports, visit the Department of Social and Health Services, Research and Data Analysis webpage.

Alliance Trainings Provide Certificates of Completion

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The Alliance offers many trainings that provide certificates of completion so you can track your status or share with others.

Once you log in to your profile on the website, you have options dependent upon your course/training history:

  • Caregiver Core Training
  • Classroom and webinar trainings (not CCT)
  • eLearnings (not ILABS or READi Lab)
  • ILABS or READi Lab.

This guide walks you through how to navigate to each certificate depending upon course type and modality as listed above. If you run into any problems, email help@acwe.on.spiceworks.com.

Extended Foster Care Eligibility Update

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One of the populations hit hardest by the pandemic’s economic and social fallout is young adults, particularly those who don’t have the extensive family support networks that many of us and our children do. Youth and young adults in foster care are prime examples. Many of the jobs they would go into in retail, food service, or other in-person customer service jobs suddenly ceased to exist. The community college or high school they were attending suddenly ceased to provide in-person instruction, or even worse, just shut down.

Gov. Jay Inslee, the Legislature, Congress, and the new Biden administration have put some resources into ensuring that these young people don’t fall through the cracks and wind up in a worse place than they are now. Just like the moratoriums on evictions, the Children’s Bureau and the Legislature made it so that young people in Extended Foster Care (EFC) don’t become homeless through no fault of their own.

In January, Gov. Inslee signed Proclamation 21-02: Extended Eligibility for Foster Care Services, which extended eligibility for foster care services to those who have turned or will turn 21 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proclamation ensures that DCYF can follow the federal regulations (listed as Division X) in the new federal stimulus bill.

DCYF intends to remove all barriers allowed under this law to encourage youth to remain as participants in the EFC program.

Youth who turn 21 remain eligible for EFC until at least Sept. 30, 2021. If youth left EFC because they aged out during the pandemic (between Jan. 27, 2020, to present), they can re-enter EFC regardless of whether they are in school or employed.

Youth are only required to meet basic criteria during the pandemic as required under federal law. Youth are not required to engage in any school, work, or have a medical condition to be eligible for this program during the pandemic. Participation requirements are limited to the following:

  • Youth must agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written EFC Agreement per WAC 110-90-0190.
  • Youth must participate in the case plan, such as working on stated goals and making progress on them.
  • Youth must allow DCYF to access certain records.
  • Youth must remain in an approved foster care placement.
  • Youth must meet with their caseworker for monthly health and safety visits.

For any youth ineligible to re-enroll, we will make every effort to connect them to services and support to ensure they can be safely and stably housed.

If you have questions about EFC or what resources are available to young people in this situation, please contact dcyf.adolescentprograms@dcyf.wa.gov.

DCYF’s Caregiver Recruitment & Retention Team Hosts Virtual Event

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Nearly 150 prospective caregivers and stakeholders attended a caregiver recruitment and retention program virtual launch hosted by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

“We were overwhelmed by the amount of support we received from the community,” said Codie Veitenheimer, Caregiver Recruitment & Retention Program Supervisor. “We were overjoyed to have such great engagement and interaction during our time together.”

On July 1, 2020, DCYF created a new approach for caregiver recruitment and retention, consisting of community-focused, targeted recruitment (DCYF positions) and caregiver retention and support contracts (Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence).

DCYF’s Targeted Recruitment Specialists will serve as the point person and recruitment expert for their designated region. Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence’s Caregiver Retention, Education and Support (CaRES) program supports prospective foster parents and existing caregivers across the state.

This shift aims to attract a diverse pool of caregivers who can meet the unique needs of children placed in out-of-home care and achieve the following outcomes:

  • Increase the number of caregivers who are racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse.
  • Increase the number of caregivers who can accommodate sibling groups.
  • Increase the number of caregivers for medically fragile children.
  • Increase the number of caregivers for children with extensive emotional, behavioral, and physical needs.

For those who were unable to attend, you can view a recording of the event here.

To learn more about becoming a caregiver, visit our Become a Foster Parent page. For information about the Alliance for Child Welfare CaRES Program, visit the Alliance CaRES community.

View the Virtual Launch PowerPoint

May 2021 Caregiver Trainings

The Alliance is dedicated to training caregivers for initial licensing and continued skill development. Below is a list of upcoming trainings here.