Media Statement

Oct. 20, 2020

Contact: Debra Johnson


Statement on Out-of-State Youth

Olympia – In 2018, Disability Rights Washington released its recommendations to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) after conducting a case study of out-of-state youth. DCYF took immediate action to assess youth safety and deployed teams of executive and social work staff to visit every Washington youth placed in any out-of-state facility.

These visits included in-person meetings with youth without facility staff present, as well as interviews with staff and extensive reviews of incident reports and facility policies.

As a result of the review, DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter set a goal in August of 2018 to “bring them all home” within 18 months. The agency would in most cases prefer to have children placed in-state. An out-of-state placement can be appropriate if the most appropriate service for the youth is not available in-state.

At the time, DCYF had approximately 83 youth placed in out-of-state facilities. As of Oct. 12, 2020, DCYF has 17 youth in out-of-state group care facilities, an 80% reduction. The agency projects that number will decline to 14 by the end of October 2020. To get to zero, Washington will need more capacity to care for young people with very challenging behavior.

Disability Rights Washington recently raised concerns about placements with a specific multi-facility provider. DCYF agreed to review individual placements in those facilities and is doing so. We plan to complete the review by the end of October. We are on track to do so. DCYF will change foster children’s placements if the facilities they are placed in don’t meet agency standards, and will take broader action if the review identifies systemic concerns.