An October Washington Supreme Court decision found that many counties had over-allocated their available water. Now thousands of rural homeowners are stuck in limbo as counties grapple with implementing the decision and turn to the Legislature for help.
Foster youth in Washington state rally at the state capitol to demand the state Legislature better fund the foster-care system and make provisions to do more for foster youth who often become homeless when they “age out” of foster care.
Should fighting climate change translate into spending more on education? That’s what Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is advocating. Wrangling over this and related proposals to shore up longstanding education-funding shortages will likely overshadow most environmental issues in the 105-day legislative session that got under way this week. But builders, environmentalists, legislators and others in the environmental arena say that even with the education-funding debate taking center stage, they will try to move forward on a slew of fronts. Subjects likely to come up include growth management, water rights, Puget Sound restoration and cleanup of toxic waste sites.
In this Seattle Channel recording of the Town Hall event spurred by InvestigateWest’s reporting, panelists Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell, Representative Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle), former Department of Social and Health Services employee Dee Wilson, advocacy lead and Washington State Parent Ally Committee/Children’s Home Society of Washington staffer Alise Hegle, and Foster Parents Association of Washington State Executive Director Mike Canfield discuss paths forward with moderator and Town Hall Program Director Katy Sewall.
Tanya Copenhaver followed in her father’s and grandmother’s footsteps by becoming a social worker for Washington state’s Children’s Administration, a difficult but fulfilling calling she never expected to give up. During 15 years of working in the foster care system, on a job considered among the hardest in the state, she worked her way up to supervisor. But even with a master’s degree and a management position, the single mom struggled to pay rent and daycare. She and her daughter ate at her mother’s house to save money. Last year, Copenhaver finally left the vocation she cherished to take a post at a Pierce County hospital – with a 30 percent pay raise.
High turnover among unhappy foster parents is putting more stress on an already strained system and hindering the state’s ability to care for its most vulnerable children. Too often, the state’s program drives away its own foster parents.
Washington’s shortage of foster parents to care for abused and neglected kids is so overburdened that kids who are shuffled among hotels and emergency placements often miss school, further compromising their chances to become successful adults.