Foster Care

Seth Weinig

State child welfare workers have outlined plans to implement new training and data management practices, hoping to finally push Washington's foster care system into full compliance with a decade-old legal agreement.

But state officials also say they'll realistically need nearly $7.8 million more from lawmakers' next two-year budget to hire back the staff they need to meet all 21 benchmarks for improving foster care laid out in the 2004 settlement of the Braam v. Washington case.

A judge in Bellingham has ordered the state of Washington to do more to locate foster children who run away.

Jessica Robinson

Adoptions are usually private affairs, sealed forever in court documents and known only to the families involved. But a recent decision by Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare exploded into the public sphere.

Washington state could do a better job when it comes to assisting families who’ve adopted children from foster care, according to a report by the state auditor's office. 

That’s especially the case for families who’ve adopted children with special needs or those who have been diagnosed with emotional or physical problems, the office found.

Close to 9,000 children were in foster care in Washington state last year, but the majority of these kids will eventually return home. Today, as part of Family Reunification Day, families are celebrating their reunions after overcoming obstacles that range from drug abuse to struggles with parenting skills.

Born addicted to heroin       

Talking to a professionally-dressed Nina Caso, it’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, her life was in total crisis. She hit rock bottom, and lost custody of her 2-year-old daughter.

An independent panel that oversees the state’s foster care system is going away. And it isn’t because of budget cuts. The panel was scheduled to disband this year.

The Braam Foster Care Oversight Panel, which held its final meeting earlier this week, was put in place seven years ago as part of a landmark legal agreement requiring foster care reform in Washington.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

About 1,160 children in King County spent last month in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services. Most were separated from their parents because of unsafe conditions at home, such as drugs, violence or neglect.

But it may come as a surprise to learn that most eventually will be safely returned to their parents.

Decades after the federal government stopped taking Native American children from their homes and putting them in boarding schools, Native families still face challenges staying together.

Photo courtesy of Women's Funding Alliance.

Two years ago, the city of Seattle got the results of a harrowing study: it estimated as many as 500 children in King County are involved in prostitution

More recently, FBI sweeps have found more girls victimized here than anywhere else in the country. Seattle is identified by the FBI as one of the top ten human trafficking centers in the country - due in part, perhaps, to more effective law enforcement.