Lawsuit Media Statement 12-8-14

Lawsuit Media Statement 12-8-14

12-8-14 Media Release

In conjunction with a lawsuit filed by the Foster Parents Association of Washington State (“FPAWS”), on behalf of foster families who welcome those children into their homes; please see the Media Statement below regarding the settlement of the lawsuit [FPAWS v. Quigleyet al, No. 3:11-cv-05051-BHS (W.D. Wash)].  

December 8, 2014 – Media Statement

Washington State Foster Families To Get Financial Boost

Settlement of Longstanding Lawsuit Results in Increases in Reimbursement Rate

Olympia, Wash. (December 8, 2014) – Foster children will benefit from the settlement of a longstanding lawsuit between Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Foster Parents Association of Washington State (FPAWS), a non-profit organization of foster parents and child advocates.

The lawsuit, filed in 2011 by FPAWS, asserted that DSHS did not comply with the Federal Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980.  FPAWS contends that DSHS does not provide adequate reimbursement to licensed foster parents to cover the costs of caring for foster children.

The final settlement agreement requires the State to calculate the amount it reimburses foster parents based on the actual costs of raising a child in the State of Washington.  The agreement results in a significant increase in the foster care maintenance payments made on behalf of each of the estimated 10,000 foster children in the State of Washington. 

Depending on age, each child will receive an annual increase between $1,532.50 and $2187.82.  In total, it is anticipated that over the minimum four-year term of the agreement, foster parents in the State of Washington will receive an additional $33 million of direct reimbursement to pay for the costs of raising the State’s foster children.  The Parties expect that this will also lead to an increase in the number of available qualified foster parents and improve retention of qualified parents, all to the benefit of foster children.

The State has already submitted a decision package requesting the necessary funding for the increase in the foster care maintenance payment.  It is anticipated that the new rate will be effective July 1, 2015.  The litigation has been stayed pending legislative approval of the new rate.

Additionally, under the settlement agreement, DSHS will make significant department-wide changes to its internal and external policies and procedures, as well as changes to its training of staff,  to ensure state-wide compliance with the Child Welfare Act and to ensure that foster parents have the support, training and resources they need to provide for the foster children in their care.

“FPAWS is thrilled that this day has come,” said Beth Canfield, Co-President of FPAWS.  “Washington’s foster parents have shouldered too much of the costs of caring for the State’s foster children for too many years.  We are committed to working with the Children’s Administration and its staff to develop a system that works in the best interest of foster children.  We believe that the immediate consequence of this settlement will be to attract and to retain committed foster parents who will make a difference in the lives of these children.” 

FPAWS is represented pro bono by Perkins Coie LLP, with the assistance of Lorraine Barrick, CPA/ABV/CFF, and Professor Mary Hansen, Ph.D.

About FPAWS: The Foster Parents Association of Washington State (FPAWS) is a non-profit corporation chartered in 1973 providing support and services to foster families throughout the State of Washington.  FPAWS has evolved over the years to develop direct support for adoptive, foster and kinship parents as well as initiating legislative action for the betterment of foster and adoptive families. FPAWS believes that all children are entitled to a safe and nurturing family experience and families choosing to provide such experiences deserve the respect and support of the community.  

For further information or for any questions, please contact Beth Canfield, co-President of FPAWS, at 360-377-1011 / [email protected], or Mary Gaston of Perkins Coie at  206-359-3910 / [email protected]

May 14, 2014 – Media StatementWashington State Sued For Violating Child Welfare Act,Jeopardizing the State’s Foster Care SystemAccording to a lawsuit currently pending in federal court in Tacoma [Foster Parents Association ofWashington State v. Kevin Quigley, Sec. DSHS, et al.] Washington State is dramatically underfundingits foster care system, harming foster children, jeopardizing substantial federal funding, andthreatening the entire foster care system in Washington State, which serves more than 10,000 abusedand neglected children each year. The lawsuit, filed by the Foster Parents Association of WashingtonState (FPAWS), seeks to force the State to comply with the Child Welfare Act, a federal law thatrequires the State to provide for the basic necessities of foster children in exchange for the Statereceiving federal funding for its foster care program.According to FPAWS, a non-profit group comprised of foster parents and foster children advocates,the State of Washington does not cover the costs of raising the State’s foster children, as required byfederal law. To the contrary, decades before the lawsuit was filed, a State task force calculated thecosts of foster children’s basic necessities and concluded that the State’s inadequate funding was“financially punish[ing]” foster parents by shifting a significant portion of costs of caring for theState’s foster children to voluntary foster parents whose personal funds were being depleted as a result.Using its own calculations, foster kids’ basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and clothing, cost 50%more than what the State currently provides for these abused and neglected children. The Departmentof Social and Health Services (DSHS) has known about the shortfall in funding for foster children fordecades. DSHS has even admitted that it has stopped trying to fix the problem. Instead, it tellsvolunteer foster parents to “absorb some costs themselves.”Since 2011, FPAWS has been seeking to force the State to comply with the requirements of federallaw. While conceding that it takes no steps to ensure the adequacy of its foster care rates, the Statenonetheless has spent well over $1.3 million to defend its current practices, including over $800,000 onhired experts. State documents and payment data discovered through years of litigation, however,have confirmed the State’s failure to adequately provide for foster children. Those documents serve asthe basis for FPAWS’s motion for injunctive and declaratory relief, which is currently pending beforethe court. The motion requests the court to declare that the State is in violation of the Child WelfareAct, and asks that the issue of the appropriate injunctive relief be addressed thereafter.Case: FPAWS v. Quigley, et al., No. 3:11-cv-05051-BHS (W.D. Wash.).FPAWS is represented pro bono by Perkins Coie LLP, with the assistance of Lorraine Barrick,CPA/ABV/CFF, and Professor Mary Hansen, Ph.D.For further information or for any questions, please contact Beth Canfield, co-President ofFPAWS, at 360-377-1011 / [email protected], or Mary Gaston of Perkins Coie at 206-359-3910 / [email protected].

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