OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his appointments to his Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families.
Inslee signed an executive order in February to transform how the state delivers services to the children of Washington state. The executive order tasked the Blue Ribbon Commission with sending recommendations to the Legislature for the organizational structure of the new agency, cost estimates for IT and capital, and measurable benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of the new department.
The 16-member bipartisan commission will be co-chaired by retired Judge Anne Levinson and a legislator chosen from the legislative members of the Commission. Levinson’s two decades of public service included extensive work on system reform issues to improve effectiveness of government services. Levinson also helped establish and continues to serve as a founding board member of the Center for Children & Youth Justice, which has led numerous reforms in Washington’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Commission members include legislators, state agency leaders, tribal representatives, and experts in child welfare, education and economic issues.
“We have numerous agencies that play a role in supporting our state’s children and their families. By bringing those efforts together in one agency, we can be more strategic and effective in making sure children’s needs get the attention and resources they deserve,” Inslee said. “The commission’s work over the next several months will provide an important framework for this transformative effort and I appreciate having so many dedicated and experienced leaders at the table.”
“The commission provides a rare opportunity to assess current agency alignment and responsibilities, and to think creatively about how to better serve children and families through a single agency,” said commission member Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle). Kagi is a longtime children’s advocate and chairs the House Early Learning and Human Services committee. “I look forward to this work and to improving outcomes for children and families in Washington.”
The idea of a children’s state department was first introduced by legislators in 1988 and extensively reviewed in 2007 by a legislative task force that endorsed the idea. Inslee’s move was widely supported by long-time children’s and legal services advocates who say similar moves in other states have resulted in improved outcomes and better visibility and focus on children’s services.
The commission will begin meeting on May 10th. Its report to the Legislature is due November 1, 2016.