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Current Issues

2023 Lead Legislative Agenda

Black and Indigenous youth, and other youth of color (BIPOC youth) are overrepresented in foster care, among those experiencing homelessness, and in our juvenile justice system due to historic and current systemic racism. We are committed to eliminating these racial disparities and addressing the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on young people. As always, our legislative agenda is guided and inspired by youth with lived experience.

Extended Foster Care

Extended Foster Care (EFC) exists to help young people who are dependents of the state when they turn 18. However, many young people in foster care are not receiving the support they need while in EFC, with COVID-19 exacerbating struggles. By expanding EFC eligibility requirements and available resources, Washington could better support its young people as they enter adulthood.

Solution: Make EFC more accessible and as close to an "opt-out" system as possible, increase monthly payments, and extend eligibility through age 26.

Champion: TBD

Limiting Access to Juvenile Records

Juvenile records have significant consequences for young people and can cause youth difficulties as young adults. BIPOC youth face higher rates of referrals to court and adjudications for criminal offenses than their white counterparts, which further impacts their adult life. Current record sealing laws do not adequately protect youth from lifelong consequences. 
 
Solution: Make juvenile records equally as confidential as dependency records, increase accessibility, and create accountability measures for those who illegally share sealed records.
 
Champion: TBD

Financial Capability for Youth in Foster Care

Young people in Washington state who are in foster care need access to financial literacy skills and a bank account at a young age, to help them be successful when they leave care. Without these resources, they can become trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Solution: Pass legislation directing DCYF to establish an account for youth in foster care ages 14+ with a monthly allowance deposited, paired with financial education beginning at 12 years of age. 
 
Champion: TBD

START

 Student to Adulthood Readiness Training, or START, will be a required course for high school graduation. Students will learn skills that prepare them for adulthood including financial literacy, professional development, basic mechanics, cooking skills, how to access resources in the area, and more. Doing this will prepare youth for success in adulthood, while simultaneously preventing homelessness in youth. 

Solution: Create a START curriculum and pilot program that can measure curriculum outcomes and success. 
 
Champion: TBD

Youth Access to Shelter

Youth under 18 cannot consent to their own shelter. In cases where youth cannot return home to a safe and supportive environment and their parents do not give consent or cannot be located, youth may end up experiencing homelessness. 

Solution: Create a pathway for youth to self-consent to shelter, develop a safety assessment for the youth, and provide a community support team. 
 
Champion: TBD

2023 Support Agenda TBD