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Letter from the Executive Director

Letter from the Executive Director Annie Blackledge
Executive Director

Dear Friends and Allies,

“While we have made some progress since the 1980s when I was in care, the overall structure of the system that I experienced as a child is essentially the same. It’s time for this to change. We need bold action and public will.”

 

It is time. It’s time we stop “tinkering around the edges” of child welfare reform. Washington state is at a pivotal moment in our history, teetering on the edge of transforming how we care for our state’s youngest residents and their families. Our state has a strong and diverse movement of policy makers, community leaders, philanthropists, and advocates working together to address the most pressing issues facing our most vulnerable populations. The opportunity before us is twofold.

First, a new Department of Children, Youth and Families will lay the foundation to ensure Washington state’s families have access to supports, resources, and timely interventions when they are needed. Second, the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection (OHY) recently released a set of recommendations. These recommendations serve as a roadmap to direct the state’s investments and inform policy decisions towards the goal of ending youth and young adult homelessness. While we have made some progress since the 1980’s when I was in care, the overall structure of the system that I experienced as a child is essentially the same. It’s time for this to change. We need bold action and public will.

Unlike when I was in foster care and found myself living on the streets as a teen, we now know so much more. We know more about the importance of early brain development, the protective factors that early learning provides, the importance of caring for our caregivers, the impacts of trauma, and how the brain continues to develop into our late 20’s. We now have an understanding of the science of resilience. WE KNOW SO MUCH. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT by calling on the State Legislature to create the new department and implement the OHY recommendations. If we don’t, who will?

Sincerely,

Annie Blackledge

Annie Blackledge
Executive Director