The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) is committed to Washington’s children and youth growing up safe, healthy, and thriving. DCYF is Washington State’s newest agency and oversees several services previously offered through the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), such as Child Protective Services’ investigations and Family Assessment Response; licensed foster care; and adoption support, and the Department of Early Learning (DEL). Also included are all DEL services, such as the state’s preschool program, child care subsidy, and home visiting. Starting in July 2019, DCYF also will administer programs offered by the Juvenile Rehabilitation division and the Office of Juvenile Justice, including juvenile rehabilitation institutions, community facilities and parole services.
Children of color are underrepresented in the percentage of children entering kindergarten with the skills they need to be successful. Children and youth of color enter and remain in the child welfare system at greater rates. Youth of color are also disproportionately represented as they enter and progress through the juvenile justice system. Underlying systems, policies and practices are driving these disparate outcomes and experiences. DCYF is committed to transforming the way our agency operates to promote racial equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice, so each and every child, youth and family can thrive.
As a starting point, DEL will:
- Develop and implement a comprehensive racial equity strategy. This strategy will include a racial equity framework or shared approach to leading for equity, and a racial equity plan with specific goals and priorities that have the greatest impact on closing opportunity gaps and removing barriers for children, families and professionals of color.
- Develop and continually refine tools and processes necessary to implement the racial equity strategy, including tailored racial equity impact analysis tools, an agency-wide family, community and stakeholder engagement protocol, and disaggregated data and metrics to measure the impact of DEL’s actions.
- Train and support DEL staff to increase their knowledge, awareness and capacity to lead for equity. The first step is to convene and support a Racial Equity Team that will provide leadership in developing the racial equity strategy, tools, training and processes, as well as model culturally and linguistically responsive practices. The team will play a critical role in setting the conditions and environment necessary to engage others in racial equity conversations and efforts.
Evette Jasper is the State/Local Coordination Administrator at the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL). She coordinates efforts to increase partnerships and collaboration across state and regional levels to build an early childhood system that is responsive to the experiences and needs of Washington’s children and families. This has included managing the Early Learning Advisory Council, Parent Advisory Group, Birth to Three Subcommittee and prenatal to three systems design efforts. She is currently leading efforts to strengthen DEL’s capacity to advance racial equity and eliminate disparities in school readiness outcomes.