Secretary Newsletter - June

June 9, 2020
Smiling children arm in arm.

 

View the full June Secretary Newsletter.

Advancing Racial Equity

I want to acknowledge the range of emotions you may be feeling, including anger, confusion, grief, disbelief and numbness evoked by recent events. By now, we’ve all seen the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis – officers who are supposed to “serve and protect” the community. We’ve also experienced the painful loss of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many Black lives, just in the past few months.

George Floyd was somebody’s beloved father, brother and son. A byproduct of our toxic culture and environment of racism and white supremacy is dehumanization and insensitivity toward the suffering of Black bodies. Until we all feel the pain of these losses and our systems respond accordingly with just policies and practices that protect the health and well-being of all communities, we communicate resoundingly that Black lives matter less. 

This brutality is deeply rooted in American history and culture. Digging it out, root and branch, will require facing our complicity in creating current racialized outcomes, and a willingness to put in the personal and collective work to make change happen.

Read more

DCYF Recovery Plan

Despite everyone’s best efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. I worry about many things – my family, the health of our staff, the public health situation overall, the upcoming budget and other ongoing issues like racism, which I discuss in this newsletter. I hear the same concerns from many of you. This is not unfounded anxiety – the world is in a difficult place right now.

We’ve had 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among our 4,500 staff members, eight foster children and zero youth in Juvenile Rehabilitation. This information is readily available on the COVID-19 section of the DCYF website.

Large parts of the state (those parts with fewer people) are moving to phases past the initial one, making statewide management more complex. We’re starting to work through the planning for what DCYF will look like when we get a tighter grasp on this pandemic. For now, we’re not making any changes to our telework directives, and all social distancing work arrangements are still in place.

We have an agency-wide plan for how work arrangements are managed, and, for now, we are staying with the current rules. We will be doing significant telework until we are in phase IV. I do not expect to have any of our offices returning to the pre-pandemic situation regardless of the phase their county is in.

Last, in line with Washington State directives, DCYF is requiring all employees who enter a DCYF office or facility to wear face masks or cloth face coverings, effective June 8. Unless our staff are guaranteed to be working in a private space, they need to wear a mask in any of our offices.

Additional COVID-19 updates are available on the DCYF website

DCYF 2020 Budget Update Webinar

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) requested that DCYF, along with other state agencies, identify operating budget savings options for Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations. DCYF has submitted a budget reduction exercise to OFM on potential areas where the agency can reduce costs and save money. 

DCYF hosted a webinar last week to provide an overview of what we submitted to OFM. These reduction exercises were completed at the request of OFM and OFM has not yet directed DCYF to implement any budget reductions. Many items DCYF considered would take legislative action to complete.

The presentation is posted on the DCYF Legislative and Federal Relations webpage.

If you have any questions about the webinar, email dcyf.govaffairs@dcyf.wa.gov.